Dienstag, 7. Oktober 2014

Haider Needs To Go To The Oscars - Haider Review By My Very First Guest Writer

My friend  is the first guest writer on my (sadly rather inactive) blog. She wrote a Haider review and posted it via twitlonger. She kindly let me put it on my blog, too.
(Sidenote: I've been depressed ever since it became clear Haider wouldn't be shown here. So I have to wait for the DVD. But rest assured, I'll write a review then.)

Here it comes:

 @shahidkapoor @rekhabhardwaj @Shahid_Online I normally don't do this but after watching #Haider today I gotsta. So here's an honest review by a dedicated shanatic.

Dear @shahidkapoor - and by extension #VishalBhardwaj c/o @rekhabhardwaj - thank you. A long time ago (read 3 years) I didn't watching anything from B-town. It was too illogical, too silly and required a suspension of belief on my part that I wasn't ready to part with. Then I happened to watch #Kaminey by chance. I was shocked at what played out on my screen - a beautifully interwoven masterpiece of a story, acted out brilliantly by shahid and directed with great aplomb by Bhardwaj. It was, as I've said many times before, eerily reminiscent of the kind of movies Quentin Tarantino makes - with a lot less humor and if possible more savage. I loved it, and I ended up loving Shahid thereafter.

Imagine my anticipation when #Haider was announced - my childish in-yo-face glee at each and every positive review that came out since the movie premiered, and finally today when I actually skived off work to attend the matinée show of Haider as an Eid gift to myself.

Boy was I not disappointed.

Haider is a masterpiece - destined to become a cult classic, by which movies of this genre, and in fact all Hindi cinema should be judged by. Of course, being adapted from Hamlet, the Shakespearean work that continues to beguile and enchant readers and actors alike, one could argue that Vishal couldn't have gone wrong. But he could have. Shahid and Tabu and Irfan and KK and Shradda and every single other actor that played any kind of minor role could have bungled the job. They didn't. Thankfully.

What they made together with their genius of a director had me glued to my screen through out the movie, and I am pretty sure I stopped blinking after the interval. I've never had as many goosebumps watching a movie before. I've never heard/watched a bollywood movie song so emotionally raw as #bismil. I've never seen a bollywood movie dare to so blatantly examine and criticize. (Aside: No country is ever in danger by citizens cognizant of its wrong doing, and who brave the jingoists to bring said actions to light. The time to be afraid is when no one thinks for themselves and blindly regurgitates what the politicians feed them. As Thomas Jefferson said "Dissent is the highest form of patriotism". ) So hats off to Vishal Bhardwaj, to Shahid Kapoor and the entire cast and crew that believed and delivered.

I am not a film critic. I am not an actor. I can't review the powerful dialogue or the background score, nor aptly describe the breathtaking cinematography. I can't describe how the music, the lyrics, the words helped facilitate my experience of the movie so that I could feel Haider's pain, or Ghazala's struggle to be happy. I can only tell you what I felt as i watched this movie. I felt so much, so deeply, that by the end of it I wasn't a spectator in a movie theatre, but I was Haider as he descended into chaos, I was Ghazala as she grasped at all the straws she could, I was Arshi as she loved Haider sincerely, honestly and innocently ...

Without giving out any major spoilers, perhaps the most poignant part in the movie for me was Haider's non-verbal vehement NO at a moment when Ghazala was saying quite the opposite verbally. I felt that if she had just looked up and seen the magnitude of despair in his eyes she would have stopped. If she had glimpsed how close to the edge he was standing then, she may have desisted. As it were, she didn't. To me that point was when Haider fully crossed over the small thin line between madness and sanity and I grieved for him.

There were many other moments - in fact the movie is a string of innumerable and beautiful moments strung together - some of which the critics have pointed out in their favorable reviews - the beauty of Kashmir, the background score, the visual innuendos, the dancing (oh my god the dancing in bismil is outstanding!), the songs: bismil, aree aao na, khul kabhi tu, the nod to Mehdi Hassan's gulon main rang bhare, haider's monologues, the climax - each worthy of a book written in its praise.

This should be India's contender for the Oscars. This should be a must-watch movie for anyone who watches bollywood/hollywood.

To me Vishal Bhardwaj is a giant among giants - it makes sense to bracket his name in between Martin Scorcese and Christopher Nolan and for Haider to have the all the visages of the action/thriller/drama and morality of TDKR, while simultaneously recapitulating the sad misery, the hopelessness of the Pianist. I am making comparisons to help explain how good Haider is. To be honest, once you've watched the movie you won't need to. It forms a class of its own and stands as a monument and testament to intelligent writing, spectacular story telling, and immaculate acting.

So thank you Vishal. Thank you Shahid. Thank you Tabu and Shradda and Irfan and KK. It was a pleasure. It was an honor. I'm going back to rewatch it because your collective brilliance demands, and is justified by multiple viewing.

love always,

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Samstag, 13. September 2014

My Two Cents On GQ-Gate

Imagine Shanatics' joy and excitement when we got to see for the first time GQ India's cover featuring Shahid Kapoor.

Everyone was very much looking forward to that issue's release - I checked my ipad every hour from 31st August on to see if it was out. And our expectations were exceeded by a superb photoshoot, backed up by a brilliant Haider themed video.

Alas, reading the cover story by Dave Besseling, Shanatics were in for a rude shock.

Many Shanatics perceived the article to paint Shahid in a very negative light and made their displeasure known to the writer on twitter in no uncertain terms. Besseling had fun feeding the trolls (as he admits here) and got into an all out flame-war with Shanatics, making fun of their spelling and grammar (having lived in India for a while now, as I take it, he could know that for many Indians English is not the first, but rather the second or third language [as pointed out to me by @DiliwalaFoodie]. However, if you abuse someone using faulty language, you can't be surprised you don't get taken seriously.)

Where does all this fury on Shanatics' part come from?  I did manage to have a reasonable discussion with Besseling (which he obviously didn't deem worthy mentioning in  the piece he later wrote for Slate) and while I do have some points of criticism, on others I do see his point.

Besseling's attempts to be witty backfired, admittedly because many people didn't read the story carefully. I confess I had to read it twice to realize the piece actually compliments Shahid in serveral ways, rather than trashing him.

"What I really want out of this meeting is to decode the online bollocks dipped in bullshit that have fused into a public persona akin to this: Shahid Kapoor is the most arrogant, difficult, time-wasting, womanizing, talented egomaniac in Bollywood."
 (quotes in bold are from the cover story)

Many people overlooked the first part of that sentence and thought Besseling was calling Shahid arrogant etc. (Besseling boasts of not having written the Bollywod-typical sugar-coated feature, but I doubt he'd ever call a well-established Bollywood actor these things in an article, even if he thought them to be true.) If you read the first part, however, you'll see he wants to find out if all these rumours are true (and no big spoiler when I say he came to the conclusion most of them aren't.)

“Sorry to keep you waiting,” says Shahid, a few steps ahead of his scuttling entourage, hand out for a shake. In my woozy state, he’s a Top Gun-era Tom Cruise, but with a better tan. “I was with a director I’ve been meaning to meet for ages.”
(Is that the “time-wasting, keeping people waiting forever” for which he’s been so scorned?)

The answer to this rethorical question is clearly, no, Shahid isn't arrogant, even though he's not always on time.

The second thing that had Shanatics up in arms was the mention of Shahid's smoking. Since a picture says more than a thousand words, here ya go:
Hi Blitz June 2012

I remember the shocked outcry  about the possibility that Shahid could be smoking  that happened a few years ago. All I can say is, we already knew that he does, and if you choose to forget facts about your beloved celeb that don't please you, you're gonna get shocked on a regular basis. I'm not advocating smoking here, it's unhealthy and we all know that, but it's not a crime, there are worse things a person could do. So if you're one of those enraged by this, please get over it. (If Shahid wanted to hide the fact he's smoking, do you think he would do such a photo shoot or smoke in front of a journalist?)

I thought about where these delusional image some people have of Shahid comes from, and I think it's probably that many fans don't distinguish between Prem, the perfect son-in-law, the character Shahid played in Vivah, and the real person (which is a pity, because the actor is so much more interesting than goody-two-shoes Prem).

"(All that “womanizing”…) This cat’s packing mojo fierce enough to have pulled babes like Piggy Chops and Kareena Kapoor."

Girls, men see the above as compliment. It's not meant as an insult, it's relicts from the cave-men era, locker-room back-patting put in writing. Again, if you aren't aware Shahid is no monk, you're very selective in the interviews you watch and read. So please get over it. I do have an issue that Priyanka and Kareena have to be mentioned all the time by journos, because who cares! It's ancient history.

Another thing that fuelled the attacks on Besseling is that Shanatics generally feel, and imo rightly so, that Shahid is under-appreciated by the media, who don't feel the need to suck up to him because he's not from a big filmy family, and the industry alike (as Vishal Sir said, he's the best actor of the younger generation, and th
 I agree, forget about another Kapoor who usually gets all the accolades.) So we're feeling protective of him and a certain amount of lashing out can be explained, if not excused, by this.

A big issue that I had with the article was that R...Rajkumar was put into the flop category, which it wasn't.

Mahezabeen has a very good point when she says any journalist set to interview Shahid could at least be expected to research enough about him to know what the term Shanatics means.

The result of what I call GQ-Gate is that Shanatics are now known as lunatics with poor grammar and spelling. The story even made it on  Slate, which kinda breaks my heart, because I'm a Slate fan.
The moral of the story is that everyone should mind the manners their mothers hopefully taught them and realize that disagreeing with someone doesn't make that person your mortal enemy. Also, if you want to call a person names and rant about them, download a chat-app which allows you to do so privately with a selected group of trusted friends. Been there, done that :) Public name calling never accomplishes anything good.

Dienstag, 8. Juli 2014

There's Method In This Madness - Haider Posters and Trailer

HAIDER - or as I call it "The movie Shahid sacrificed his hair for".

I trust Shahid, and I trust Vishal Sir, so I was always confident the movie would be worth this ultimate sacrifice (My blog's title, cafuné, is the portugese term for running your fingers through the hair of someone you love. I'm a big fan of great hair. And we all know Shahid's hair is awesome.)

And the posters made a real impact on me, especially the skull one. Check them out:

 How intense are these!

And then, today, came the trailer:

I could now list 50 adjectives to praise Shahid's superb acting, but we all know it's superb (he's an utterly convincing madman), so I'll leave it at that. The trailer is visually stunning, I love the use of colours set off against the white of the snow. I'm looking forward to the action and to the music (the song used in the trailer is great) and to the great Hamlet monologues delivered by Shahid - I love his voice and the more he talks, even if it's crazy stuff, the better. Every time I see Shahid WITH hair, I still feel a jolt of happiness :). In most of the scenes, I just wanna hug Haider. Whether this is because I sympathize with the tough situation the character finds himself in, or because I'm just so happy to see Shahid in a new movie, I'm not sure. I assume the romance won't be on the forefront, but as you can see in the umbrella scene, it will be an added bonus.

Which leads me to give a word of advice - do not expect Haider to be rom-com or a masala movie. Haider, from the looks of it, will be so much more!

Please read this very good article, that I agree 100% with:
Guide To Enjoying Haider 101

Sonntag, 16. März 2014

Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela Review

Ram Leela is an Indianized, modernized version of Romeo and Juliet, starring Deepika Paadukone and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Leela and Ram are members of mobster families who have been arch enemies for 500 years, yet they fall in love and this changes life as people knew it for everyone in the village.

All technical aspects of Ram Leela, like cinematography, choreography, costumes, dialogue in verses as a nod to Shakespeare, are superb. It is a joy to watch Deepika and Ranveer put their acting muscles (and in Raveer's case, his literal muscles :D) to good use. Their chemistry is remarkable, these two set the screen on fire whenever they are in the frame together. 

A big shoutout to SLB for promoting gender equality on many different levels. First off, Ranveer is semi or even full on shirtless all the time. And shallow as it may be to say this, Ranveer is very very nice to look at :D (I wish he hadn't had a beard, but the gorgeous long hair made up for that and Ram Leela makes good use of his, and Deepika's, hair. Bollywood, I love you for your flying hair scenes). Ranveer's introduction song is a non at all sublte invitation to drool over him, an item song for the females and gays amongst us. So thank you for this, SLB. 

Yes, he IS taking off his shirt :)
On a more sophisticated level, women aren't damsels in distress or meek homemakers, they rule, case in point Leela's mother, who is a female don who puts the fear of god (or rather the goddess) in the men she commands. Leela herself is quite the feisty girl.

So did I totally love Ram Leela? No, I didn't. I had major problems with the actions the lead characters took and more importantly to figure out their motivation for doing certain things. I first thought it might be a cultural issue, Desi fine points I was missing, but a conversation on twitter has revealed I'm not the only one who's baffled by certain things. I can forgive and ignore logical faults very easily in a movie when it's about technical aspects or continuity, etc., but I do need to be able to understand (not necessarily relate to) why the characters do what they do. I will now go into detail of what confused me, which means:


Here's another shirtless screen shot of Ranveer, just because ;)

First off, I'm not into Romeo and Juliet all that much, but they have the good excuse of having been over-hormonal teenagers, which is not the case for Ram and Leela. Leela's brother kills Ram's brother in an accident due to male stupidity and Ram immediately shoots him (on purpose). What transpires when he meets Leela shortly after that is this:

Leela: "You shot my brother!"
Ram: "Sorry!"
Leela: "Oh, ok, nevermind, let's screw, you look like Ranveer after all and you're super hot and semi naked all the time."

So yeah, Ranveer is really hot, but I'd have expected her to mourn her brother and be pissed at Ram for longer than 2 seconds. No matter how much I loved a guy or how hot he was, shooting a family member would be a deal breaker. But maybe that's just me.

And the second big thing that irked me was the ending. I get that killing off your lead pair is supposed to add drama and depth, but in this case, it was so very un-necessary, since everyone changed their opinon and was perfectly happy to let them live happily ever after and rule together. So their legacy is they turned their village into a peaceful paradise, but it would have been the same outcome if they had lived. Their mutual murder/suicide wasn't heroic and self-sacrificing (especially since they didn't know that their love had reconciled the village), it was stupid and selfish.

FINAL VERDICT: Watching Ram Leela was enjoyable for many reasons, but it missed the chance to get on my list of fave movies due to its lead characters' stupidity.

Mittwoch, 11. Dezember 2013

My R…Rajkumar Light Bulb Moment

I'm a die-hard Shanatic. R...Rajkumar is full of Shawesomeness. (You can read my review here)
I'm not at all a fan of masala movies. I mostly find them stupid. I've always been baffled by how Salman's masala movies could be so successful. I had fun making fun of these movies. But beware, somewhere in the middle of watching R...Rajkumar I had an epiphany:

For people who love Salman as much as I love Shahid (though why one would choose to love Salman when one could love Shahid is a mystery to me :D) stupid Salman masala movies are full of Salman-ness, hence they enjoy them so much! Salman fans, you were right and I was wrong.  Aap sab humme maaf kar dijiye! 

It was always my opinion that success or failure at the box office says little about the quality of a movie. Objectively, R...Rajkumar has its weaknesses and I won't hold it against critics to point them out. What I do hold against them is the gleeful  bashing of R...Rajkumar that's going on, when none of these critics dare to utter a word against a Salman movie out of fear of getting on his wrong side. Even if critics don't like the movie, how can they presume to tell people not to watch a movie! It's their job to watch movies and be objective about them even if they don't like them.
And in case of R...Rajkumar's BO success despite critics' best efforts to bring it down:
 In your faces, a*******!

Montag, 9. Dezember 2013

Eight Reasons Why Shahid Kapoor Shouldn't Go Bald

When I first heard Shahid would do Vishal Bhardwaj's  Hamlet remake, I was one happy fangirl. Kaminey is one of my all-time fave movies and sealed the deal on Shahid and on the whole of Bollywood for me, so there couldn't have been better news. When I first heard the rumours that Shahid would go bald for Haider, I had a bad feeling about it.

I was pretty sure it was true. And then Shahid confirmed it. And went on to do all the R...Rajkumar promos with a head full of his longish, black, gorgeous, silky ( I know it's silky. A good friend of mine touched it, and she said it was silky. Which I knew it would be. SIGH.) and voluminous hair. And I thought: "Please don't shave!" And then I watched R...Rajkumar. And he ran his fingers through his hair. And I thought: "PLEASE DON'T SHAVE!!!!"

As service for you, esteemed reader, so you can better understand where I'm coming from, here are 8 reasons why Shahid Kapoor really shouldn't shave his longish, black, gorgeous, silky and voluminous hair:

Number 1:

Number 2:

Number 3:

Number 4:

Number 5:

Number 6:

Number 7:

OMG, Javed!

Number 8:

Romeo, oh Romeo, thou are seriously gonna shave THAT hair?

Yes, I know. Shahid is amazing and loves his art and it is super admirable of him to do this. And I will keep loving and supporting him if he never grows another hair on his head (on his shoulders - shoutout to the GL girls :D) ever again. But that doesn't mean I can't whine. Fair warning: I will whine until his black, gorgeous, silky and voluminous hair will have grown back to where it is now. So if Shahid should decide (please, god, no!) to sport short hair for a while after Haider, I guess I'll get to know who my real friends are, because they are the ones who will tolerate or maybe even join my whining :D

(Thanks Keshie, for the pic!)

Samstag, 7. Dezember 2013

Romeo Ki Jai Ho - My R...Rajkumar review

This review contains major spoilers. Do not read, unless you've seen the movie. You have been warned.

Critics love to bash movies, even more so when the lead actor is not someone who has the cushion of a filmi family to soften the blows. So they are having a field day trashing R...Rajkumar. Is R...Rajkumar a formulaic movie? Yes, of course it is. But so are most Hollywood films (Thor, anyone? And I love Thor!). Sure, out of the box movies are nice, but familiar fare is also nice, especially with a young, daring, intense, ruggedly handsome looking Shahid Kapoor in the lead. Shahid plays Romeo Rajkumar, who is a character with shades of grey, given that he works for a drug lord. While he is not actually seen murdering anyone, save one exception in the end, he does quite a lot of questionable deeds. Despite that, if I only had one word to describe Romeo, it would be: COOL. The intensity Shahid brings to the character is overwhelming. I loved the parts where Romeo was in charge, playing with Shivraj and putting Chanda's sleazebag of an uncle into his place.

My country is a Bollywood desert, so the only Bollywood movies I get to watch are those produced by Eros (thank you, Eros!). So every time Shahid signs with them, I do a happy dance. Seeing Shahid on the big screen is a rare and special treat for me (as it is for my lovely friend Bia, who drove 7.5 hours to watch R...Rajkumar - hats off to you, girl!) and getting to enjoy Shahid's superb dancing on the big screen made my year. I'm so glad someone used his dancing skills properly for a change. Thank you, Prabhu Sir!

In one scene, right before the movie launched into Dhokha Dhadi, Shahid runs his fingers through his hair. I sighed. Loud. Bia sitting next to me had to laugh. :) But his hair is so gorgeous and he's gonna shave it ... argh! I mean, this blog is named for my love of hair ... sorry, I digress.

I also appreciated the cool visual images, like Romeo's reflection in the mirror of the truck he just ruined.

What I didn't like all that much about R...Rajkumar are complaints that I have about most Bollywood movies. I have never understood and will never understand the "you hate my guts, but I'll totally ignore that and just stalk you until you love me, nevermind that I never spoke a word with you and just love you deeply because of your looks" thought of school. The Western world got its dose of supposedly romantic stalking with Twilight, but it's a staple that Bollywood just loves. Has that approach ever worked in real life? I can't imagine it has.

Indian masala humour does not work for me, which is why I liked the second half better than the first, contrary to what seems to be the majority opinion (Did I mention how intense Shahid is? These scenes happen more often post interval).

Also, when Romeo said "I could take Chanda away, but I won't" or something to that account, I was like "why the hell not"? But hey, it would have deprived of some very cool happenings in the movie.

There have been accusations of R...Rajkumar being misogynistic and yes, it is, in the usual Bollywood way. No is not accepted to mean no, women serve the men, women are reduced to their bodies. I don't like it and I'm aware it is a problem. Luckily for me I can enjoy movies despite that. And in R...Rajkumar's defence, I think having Chanda (Sonakshi) perpetually slap Romeo was their idea of a strong women (not that her strength helped her any when it came to her arranged marriage, Romeo had to come to her rescue). I'm not sure what to think about the rape scene. Many agree it was unnecessary and I think so too. Maybe it was meant to show what an evil asshole the police officer in question was.

Verdict: R...Rajkumar delivers what it promises - full on masala. In addition to that Shahid shines in this movie. You'd miss out on superb action, brilliant dancing and powerful acting if you didn't watch it.