The worst of ’90s Bollywood choreography

Today, a song in Bollywood is accompanied by some stellar choreography, wardrobe design and direction. But back in the ’90s, one guy did all three things – often to disastrous results. Seriously though, one often wonders why Saroj Khan was considered as the best choreographer back in the day. Because other production companies could not afford a decent choreographer. “Karna kya hai? Gaana bajao aur naacho!” seemed like the mantra of the decade.
If you, like many of Bollywood’s actors, wish to forget the torture that was induced via dance steps in the ’90s, then you are in for a ride. Here’s why people are glad choreography exists in Bollywood now.
1. The stealthy switch


Aila, Karishma!
2. Do the Bobby!

I have a strong feeling they murdered the wrong person in this film.
3. Sunny side up

Ek-Do Ek-Do, Mountain ke upar se fek do.
4. Main bad dancer, tu bad dancer. Hum sab bad dancers

Dance steps so bad, they’re actually good. Plus 90s Saif Ali Khan.

5. Shetty can’t dance, saala.

10 points if you can guess who this is by the sheer laziness displayed in the moves.
6. Getting jiggy with Bhai

Hey look, a dancing Salman! Don’t see that more often, do ya?
7. Improv comedy or dance?

Don’t even ask where we found this.
8. How to dance when you have Hypothermia

In their defense, dancing on snow can be dicey. Too bad they didn’t fall in a crevice.
9. Got rain, will dance

Sometimes, actors just make up dance steps as they go along.
10. What are you doing Fardeen?

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the muscle violinist and the ummm, reiki love transfer girl?

Are you a ’90s kid? Then we pity you. 

World War Film Festival: Ivan’s Childhood: Screening Review – A technical masterpiece

Back in 1962, next to no one knew who Andrei Tarkovsky was. Today, his is a name every cinephile swears by. It is no wonder then, that one of the best world war films to have come out of Russia was a handiwork of this genius filmmaker. Ivan’s Childhood was Tarkovsky’s directorial debut. With his trademark camerawork and nonlinear storytelling, he went on to create cinematic brilliance that finds relevance to this day. 

The film more or less centers around Ivan (Nikolay Burlyaev), a 12-year-old kid orphaned by the war, who works as a spy for the Russian army. His diminutive frame lets him enter enemy lines unencumbered, so that he can relay valuable information back to the Soviet Army. Once he returns, the commander decides to stop putting the boy at risk and educate him. But young Ivan, hellbent on avenging his family, decides to venture into enemy territory once more. 

A parallel plot revolving around a female medical assistant plays out on the sidelines. The woman Masha (Valentina Malyavina) is coveted by a young lieutenant, but she seems aloof. This storyline, though seemingly disconnected, plays a pivotal role in explaining that war has no heroes or villains. War is just regular men succumbing to regular human desires. 

It is indeed rare for any film to be as immersive in its approach as Ivan’s Childhood. By using graceful POV shots, Tarkovsky makes sure we feel one with Ivan’s sorrow and angst. There’s crisp editing at work so no scene feels drawn out or cut short. One scene in particular sees the camera pan along the wide expanse of the beach, before stopping abruptly to give us a glimpse of two dead youths. This scene, like several others, sends shivers down your spine with its sheer honesty. 

Shot in rich black and white, Ivan’s Childhood set the benchmark for cinematography back in the day. I mean, we are talking Tarkovsky here. The man who made a fan out Ingmar Bergman. The dialogues are splendidly uttered in silence, with the music only added to add tension once in a while. In today’s age, where movies overdose on blare horns for every establishing shot, one often forgets the importance of quiet in a scene. This is a film that hits all the right notes to send the right message. 

Kudos to the folks at Matterden (formerly Deepak Talkies) to have brought this wonderful piece of cinema to the people of Mumbai. The theatre will be presenting one world war based movie everyday till May 14, 2015 as a part of its World War Festival. If you love world war movies like Life is Beautiful and Schindler’s List, then you should definitely catch the other lesser known movies that are stoic in their own rights.

Why should you watch this film? 

All in all, Ivan’s Childhood is a powerhouse of a film that leaves you saddened and elated at the same time. The innocence of a boy twisted and turned into an object of hate by the war makes for a tale that will live on for ages to come. 

The best of Ben Stiller

Some find him hammy while some say his brand of humor is crass. And some even confuse him with Adam Sandler from time to time. What? Yes.

But anyone who has watched any of Ben Stiller’s films will agree that he always delivers the goods. He has even gone on to shed the typecast comedic roles and given some bold and nuanced performances in recent times. His role in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is proof enough. We’ll soon see him as a middle-aged man trying to feel young again in While We’re Young alongside Naomi Watts. It takes serious dedication to stick out in with the roles Ben Stiller has. Here are some of the actor’s zaniest moments that make us want to fall in love with him every single time:  

The Walk Off – Zoolander

Zipper Trouble – There’s Something About Mary

Full Retard – Tropic Thunder

Hear Me Roar – Madagascar

Dance Dance Revolution – Starsky and Hutch

Spanish News Crew – Anchorman

Slapped by a Monkey – Night at the Museum

The wrath of the Volleyball – Meet the Parents

Which Ben Stiller moment leaves you in splits? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 things movies get wrong on purpose

Movies are a fictional entity. Even if you come across a hardcore biographical tale of a man who overcame AIDS and built a giant sentinel robot that cured others of the disease, you can be rest assured that most of it is fake. Okay, that scenario sounds fake enough. But here’s the deal, movies have been lying to us about a lot of things. They have been assuming that the audience is naive and will ignore certain details. And we have played right into their traps. I’m sure there must have been times when you were enraged about a misguiding fact and screamed at the 70 mm white sheet of lies, “That’s not how things work in real life.” You think they didn’t know that already? It’s just that they don’t care. Why do they still do it? Because it makes for great entertainment, that’s why. Here are 5 things that movies usually contort to suit their needs, ignoring the fact that the reality is starkly different:

1. Gun shots

Many big-budgeted action films usually hire a stunt coordinator/expert to choreograph/advice on the usage of guns. If you ask me, they should fire that guy right away. Because he is clearly lying about his experience with guns. For example, every time you fire a regular 0.5 mm caliber gun, the jolt from the propulsion is strong enough to leave your arm in a cast for a good couple of months. That is if you don’t grip the gun firmly with both your hands. Silencers don’t work the way they show in movies either. The weird “puchuk” sound created by a gun with a silencer on is totally off target (see?). If a gun was really fired anywhere near your ears, it would render you deaf with its sheer intensity.  And for all the stylish and slick gun maneuvers the characters pull off, the security aspect is completely disregarded. Tossing the magazine in the air and letting it gently slide into the allocated slot is not how it works. So the next time, a gun fight inspires you to pick a gun and go target practicing, remember to keep the ambulance on speed dial.

2. Gay people

Barring a few decent flicks like Milk, A Single Man and My Brother Nikhil, almost every other movie confuses a gay man with a transvestite. And a lesbian woman is basically a biker chick who is vegan and is also into goth for some reason. Someone really needs to shake the scriptwriters and director till they are jolted back to reality. Because in the real world, that is not how gay men/women dress up or behave. Well, not all of them. And even then, the behavior and characterization is so off mark, that is helps propagate the stereotype that there is a woman hiding inside every gay man’s body, and a man in a lesbian woman’s body. This is also surprising because the film fraternity has some very famous out-of-the-closet men and women who are just like any of us. The way filmmakers look at it is. “How else will the audience know he’s gay?” How about he kisses another man. Both of whom happen to be absolutely normal.

3. Aliens

Here is another classic example of the “creative” folk using their own imagination and stretching it thin beyond recognition. While we have enjoyed several terrific alien-based movies over the years, one can’t help but notice a similar pattern. The human brain, with all its intellect, is quick to assume that man is the most perfect-looking creature in the entire universe. As a result, the aliens are portrayed as grotesque and deadly and/or grotesque and cute. And yet, the most iconic representation of an alien is akin to a kid suffering from malnutrition. Feeling too bad about your ugly appearance, weird alien creature? Here’s a superpower to keep you happy.

No one knows what aliens look like. Or whether aliens do exist. Also, “aliens” is the wrong term. Because for  them, we are the alien creatures. Well, here’s hoping we come across another planet with conscious beings to help bust this myth.

4. Vampires

When Bram Stroker wrote Dracula in 1897, little did he imagine that his vampire would one day allegedly play ancestor to Edward Cullen. Yes, we cannot get over Twilight. And we cannot forgive it either. Vampire Diaries and the Blade Series are also to blame. Count Dracula is a monster from Gothic folklore who has always roamed the back alleys of Victorian literature. But when he came to life in films, he was immediately given the persona of an aristocrat, with a suave east European accent to go with his ponytail. A few more years down the line, vampires developed an entirely new set of superpowers like super speed, telepathy and sparkling skin (what’s the big deal with that anyway?). The original source material went straight down the drain and Hollywood producers laughed as they drove off into the sunset in their expensive cars.

5. The Rastafari culture

Movies owe a lot of gratitude to the stoner culture. That is where most of the creativity flows from. It is easy to look at this fact as a way of life. But often times, movies go on to confuse Rastafari with being high. For them, it is all about growing dreadlocks and consuming Marijuana. Basically, the very personification of Bob Marley. Well, there is more to this culture that movies easily ignore. For starters, it is a deeply rooted philosophy that thrives on consuming organic food items and treating one’s body as a temple. But what do the movies give us? Mangled bodies of people blowing white smoke in the air, twisting and writhing in misery, whilst sporting the black, red, yellow and green of the Rastafari flag. While the underlying message happens to be, “don’t do drugs”, they need to be reminded that it’s not about Cannabis in the first place. Stop being mean to people of Jamaica movies! They have been through enough, for crying out loud.

So there you go, these are the ways movies deceive us about some really simple worldly facts. What grinds your gears? Feel free to share your ideas with us.

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8 things Bollywood fans had trouble getting on board with

Bollywood fans are a forgiving race. By that, I mean they are not particularly known for hating most of what the film industry dishes out. How else would you explain Rohit Shetty films? Over time, Bollywood has pulled off some risky maneuvers to impress its fan base. But not everything floats with everyone. God bless their soul, for they never stop trying. Do they?

Here are 10 things that proved to be tough pills for even the most hardcore Bollywood fans to swallow:

1. A clean shaven Amitabh Bachchan in the ’90s

Today, Mr. Bachchan is the face of the Indian film industry. But not too long ago, he went through a weird slump. His career graph resembled that of his son’s today. Those were the days when he made a couple of movies in an entire decade, including the horror that was Sooryavansham. A beardless Amitabh Bachchan was cool in the ’80s. Then age caught up with him. Thank God KBC happened. Which brings us to point number 2.

2. Anyone else hosting KBC

After overcoming the dry spell, AB Sr. and his iconic voice reached an entirely new level of fame with Kaun Banega Crorepati. For its third season, however, the producers decided to bring Shah Rukh Khan in as the host. And what a disaster that turned out to be. We are not saying SRK is annoying as a host. Wait… that’s exactly what we are saying. 

3. Them shiny 8 pack abs

Okay, this is where we draw a line. For someone who grew up watching Govinda, the whole “hunky hero” concept was still too alien. And then along came Salman, Hrithik and Shah Rukh with their perfectly chiseled abs. But this inhuman atrocity didn’t stop there, did it? Aamir Khan, Mr. Perfectionist himself, had to push the envelope further and force his body to sprout two more abs. Suffice it to say, this trend didn’t quite catch on.

4. Plagiarised music and films

“The art of stealing” – A crash course in “inspired” film-making by Bollywood. 
That’s a catchy book title if there ever was one. And a stolen one at that. Bollywood has enjoyed way too much leeway in the past wherein its content and music was shamelessly lifted from sources which Indian filmmakers thought the masses would never discover. The urban audiences were soon to catch up on this though and immediately raised their displeasure. There’s only so much copying David Dhawan and Anu Malik could get away with. A glimpse at their career now is enough to help us understand why copycats don’t go to heaven.

5. A married Madhuri Dixit

There was a time when Madhuri Dixit smiled and the first four rows in a cinema hall fainted simultaneously. Not really. But you get what I’m trying to say. Madhuri Dixit had captured a crazy fan following, which weirdly enough, quietly dispersed when she got married to Dr. Nene. The classic example of Aishwarya getting all the love when Devdas released should tell us why we, as fans, are so obsessed with our imaginary love stories that we don’t shy away from hating the star we once loved openly. 

6. Vivek Oberoi

Vivek Oberoi who? Exactly!

7. Films with Logic

Ask a Bollywood fan to say logic three times in a row. Step away and watch their soul burn.
Race 2, Dhoom 3, Bang Bang and of course, some more Rohit Shetty. That’s our staple diet in films these days. So yeah, give us a Lunchbox or a Paan Singh Tomar and we’ll run away from it like directors run away from Tusshar Kapoor (and Vivek Oberoi).

8. Movies without item numbers

Your father is dying? Here’s an item number. Your brother is suffering from Cancer? Here’s an item number. You love me? Let’s go dance in the fields… JK, here’s an item number. Lol. 

Have feet, will dance in minimum clothing. Why? The fans need it bro.

What aspect of Bollywood do you have trouble going along with? Don’t be shy. Let us know in the comments below.

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Dharam Sankat Mein: Film Review – A less-than-intelligent satire

Religion is a tricky topic for Indian filmmakers to tackle. Given the current scenario in the nation, you have to walk on eggshells in order to keep everyone happy, while also uncovering the truth behind blind faith. It is only recently that the genre of Religious Satire has been explored in Bollywood. Two films that immediately come to mind are 2012’s OMG – Oh My God! and 2014’s PK. Both these films had stellar concepts backed by diligent acting. Dharam Sankat Mein follows closely on this set path. Director Fuwad Khan delivers an entertaining film but fails to leave a lasting impression. Based on the 2010 film, The Infidel, this movie is a mishmash of themes, which forgets the point it is trying to make halfway down the line.

Paresh Rawal more or less reprises his role from Oh My God! He plays a businessman named Dharampal who is not particularly fond of rituals and doesn’t like visiting temples to pray. But his life turns upside-down when he finds out that he was adopted by his Hindu parents. He was, in fact, born a Muslim. Disgruntled, he now has to learn to be a Muslim before he can meet his biological father. At the same time, he also has to adapt to a stringent Hindu lifestyle so his son can get married to the girl of his dreams. All this is to impress a famed Baba named Neelanand (Naseeruddin Shah), who doesn’t do much to salvage the already tarnished image of Babas in the country.

The only person who comes to Dharampal’s aid is his neighbor, Nawab Mehmood Nazeem Ali Shah Khan Bahadur (a brilliant Annu Kapoor). Together, they try to deal with the dilemma that Dharampal finds himself in. There are some insanely funny moments in the first half, most notably a montage which is laced with intelligent satire on religious identities. Alas, these laughs are very limited in supply as the plot takes ten different directions. By the second half, the film has lost most of its charm and employs regular tropes such as a courtroom scene and a final monologue to tie things together. But the biggest disappointment is the twist ending, that leaves you flabbergasted. The most common reaction in the cinema hall was, “Did that just happen? Oh man, I was rooting for this film to work.”

Barring a couple of songs, the background score is jarring for the most part. It is used unabashedly in places where it isn’t really required. Dharam Sankat Mein also falls prey to commercial cliches, with enough shameless brand placement to make you cringe. Yet in the end, it is the earnestness with which this film is made that makes it stand out. Add to that Paresh Rawal and Annu Kapoor’s interactions that breathe life into even the most dull scenes. 

Eventually, Dharam Sankat Mein is a movie that has a great cast and theme, but fails to go anywhere in particular with them.

Why should you watch this film?

Paresh Rawal is one of the finest actors in the Hindi film industry. While the overall plot starts falling apart, Rawal rises to the occasion to deliver a grounded performance. His comedic timing is spot-on and the dramatic bits are also noteworthy. The film has some genuine moments where it drives the point of communal harmony home without being preachy. The climax of the film leaves a lot to be desired, but just for its overall theme, Dharam Sankat Mein deserves a watch.

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Jon Snow is not a good dinner guest

He knows nothing. The cost of war and relationships, and table manners included. Late Night Show host, Seth Meyers was successful in taking the character of Jon Snow home for dinner. And what follows next, is pure comedy gold. Jon is certainly not a good dinner guest. Hey, at least he’ll complement your Brussel sprouts.

Kit Harrington, the actor who plays Jon Snow, stays entirely in character as he gives his two cents on certain topics. It’s true that we are only a couple of days away from the new season premier and it’s so cool to see the actors of the show promoting it in new and innovative ways. No wonder Game of Thrones is now a world-wide pop-culture phenomenon.

Joining him in this hilarious dinner table sketch is 30 Rock’s Lutz and Seth Meyers himself. Watch this video right now if you haven’t and laugh your hearts out!

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The legend of James Corden

A couple of week ago, the reins of The Late Late Show were handed over to a Brit named James Corden. The show, which was hosted for almost a decade by the insightfully hilarious Craig Ferguson, has a huge fan following in America and around the world. So when they hired a relatively unknown guy to host the show after Ferguson, some amount of backlash from the fans was expected. Little did the Americans know that James Corden is a household name in the UK and has been in showbiz since he was 16. 

If you have been living under a rock as well, it’s time to witness the legend of the one and only, James Corden.

1. Corden rose to prominence with The History Boys, starring in the play and the film versions. He has also won numerous awards for his role in the hit comedy series, Gavin and Stacey. Since then, he has starred in numerous comedic as well as dramatic roles. More recently, he has appeared in Hollywood films like Into the Woods and Begin Again.

2. For all the good work he’s done, Corden isn’t afraid of accepting his career mishaps, especially with the film Lesbian Vampire Killers. He is humble and charismatic at the same time. This man, is awesome.

3. He made a splash on New York’s Broadway with his play One Man, Two Guvnors. He won a Tony Award for this performance.

4. He was also in two episodes of Doctor Who! What? Yes.

5. He also has mad dancing skills. Not even kidding.

6. At 36, he is the youngest late night TV show host. His first The Late Late Show episode featured Tom Hanks and Mila Kunis. Corden ditched the desk to sit close to his guests. During the show, Kunis confessed her marriage to Ashton Kutcher.

He also teamed up with Tom Hanks to recreate all of Hanks’ movies in less than 6 minutes!

This is just a sign of all the awesome things that we will get to witness from James Corden.

7. Corden has time and again shed his clothes to recreate famous pictures of stereotypical hunky models. Except for the fact Corden isn’t exactly “in shape”. There’s no denying that he is an inspiration to all of us who are conscious about our body weight.

8. If he isn’t busy mimicking David Beckham, he is busy shooting pseudo-underwear ads with him

9. He knows how social media works. Totally.

10. Despite the fact that he didn’t start as a stand-up comedian, the network has trusted him to host the show. He went to CBS with a script for a new show, and worked out something even better. Good on you, James. Good on you.

So fall prostrate before the next big thing in the world of comedy and late night TV . Here’s a man destined to do legendary things.

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Why you should date a super villain

Life has been fair to me, more or less. I wake up every morning, put my villain suit on, hatch a devious plan with my henchmen, challenge a superhero in broad daylight, fight with him/her and get home tired. All I want to do at the end of my day is rest in the arms of my beloved. But no one will date me! It’s probably the shame that comes with being a super villain. People immediately assume that I am a “bad” person. Why? Just because I held a few people hostage, killing a few of them maybe? Just because I challenged that idiotic superhero’s goody-two-shoes nature? Don’t I deserve love? Why won’t anybody swipe right for me on Tinder? Alas, my questions remain unanswered and I’ll probably have to loot a bank or two just to feel good about myself.

But let me tell you that we super villains are not so bad after all. We have some great attributes that make us date-worthy. Here’s why you should date one:

1. They’ll wear make-up for you

2. They’ll play crazy games with you

3. They always know the train schedule

4. They come loaded with the best fireworks

5. They have good fashion choices

6. They have a great sense of humor

7. They know their botany well

8. They’ll take up new hobbies for you, like surfing for example

9. They’ll find unique ways to meet you, even if you stay on Alcatraz

10. And let’s not forget, they would gladly conquer the world for you.

So go on, take a chance on a super villain. Who knows, you might just get to rule the universe alongside them. Bwahahahaha!

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Hola Venky!: Film Review – A bold but misdirected effort

Small movies don’t usually stand a chance when compared to the big-budgeted, star-studded ones that eventually rake in the moolah. So there’s no doubt that indie films rely on their audience and word of mouth to succeed. In the recent years, we have seen some tremendous movies that were either crowd-funded or shot on shoe-string budgets. Hola Venky! is one such film, shot with a budget of mere 10 lakhs by a three-member team (comprising the director, camera and sound guy). It certainly looks like an ambitious project. The problem, however, is that Hola Venky! has nothing to offer as a film. Emotionally, it is vacant and story-wise, it brings nothing interesting to the mix.

The movie follows the life of Venky (Roger Narayan), a divorced techie who lives in Mumbai and is set to get married for the second time. But just a week prior to his wedding, he is sent to the USA by his company for a fortnight. Here, he reconnects with his old college mates, only to find himself in world of pain and loneliness after a night of crazy drinking. But he finds his silver lining when he bumps into a private investigator named Inez (Sonia Balcazar).

It is clear from the get-go that Hola Venky! wants to capture the angst of an Indian visiting America for the first time. However,  it takes lot of effort to show that angst, thanks to extremely hammy acting from some of its key members. The movie also tries to force some done-to-death jokes down our throats, coming across as too desperate to find acceptance with the “urban audience”. The direction and editing also leave a lot to be desired.

Despite its pitfalls, Hola Venky! sneaks in some heart-touching moments, but they are so far apart, your eyes will be parched for something worthwhile to look at in the meantime. There are some great camera angles and casual shots at play that give the perception of looking at the world through the titular character’s eyes. The film also uses a decent soundtrack but again fails in the dubbing department. It is reminiscent of The Room in many ways, and that is not a good sign.

Why should you watch this film?

Hola Venky! holds its ground as a technically-sound film. The guerilla camera work and the breezy soundtrack give this film a fresh feel. The story, however, isn’t exactly fresh. It does little for the character of Venky, as all he does is stumble from one scenario to another. That said, this is a bold effort by director Sandeep Mohan. One that needs to be lauded and encouraged. Hola Venky! goes on to fortify the fact that movie-making is not about money all the time.

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