FILM SPOTTING: Ticket To Bollywood (December 2008)


The fourth edition of Ticket to Bollywood (a Bollywood mini-festival) will take place in Warsaw in about a month’s time (5th-7th December). Tickets are usually hard to get, so if you’d like to attend some films with me let me know soon :) There’s some general info about what they’re showing here and the schedule for Warsaw (Muranów) looks like this:

20:30 U, me aur hum

Saturday - all night
20:30 Jodhaa Akbar / Paheli

17:30 Dor
20:00 Mr and Mrs Iyer

Ticket prices:
10,- zł one film on Friday or Sunday
20,- zł Saturday night (two films)
50,- zł all films

I’m not sure what my plans are yet :) I’ve already seen Paheli and I don’t feel like I really need to go again. On the other hand Jodhaa Akbar is probably the film I most want to see of these… I guess I’ll be making my decision based on company *grin*

More about the films below…

Jodhaa Akbar (India, 2008)

Polish Distributor: Blink (date unknown but probably early in 2009 - I’m not sure if it’s straight to DVD or if it will make it into cinemas)
Director: Ashutosh Gowariker
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai, Amitabh Bachchan
Production House: UTV Motion Pictures, Ashutosh Gowariker Productions Pvt. Ltd.
Plot: A 16th century love story between between a great Mughal Emperor, Akbar and a Rajput princess, Jodhaa. It is based on legends and historical accounts.


Why it might be worth seeing
Since Lagaan in 2001 (one of only two Indian films that were ever nominated for an Oscar) every film by Ashutosh Gowariker gets a lot of attention in the Indian media. This one probably got even more attention because there was much controversy surrounding the historical accuracy of the film (many say Jodhaa was Akbar’s daughter-in-law, not his wife).
Personally, I have disliked all that I’ve seen from Gowariker, but that’s just me ;) However, I really want to see this anyway because firstly, Gowariker and this sort of costume film seems like a strange combination to me and secondly, ever since I started following Bollywood news and tabloids this film is the first time when Hrithik got good reviews for his acting lol I’ve never had a particularly high opinion of him as an actor, so I’m very curious *grin*

U Me Aur Hum (India, 2008)

Polish Distributor: Blink (December 2008 - I think it’ll be a cinema release but I’m not sure)
Director: Ajay Devgan
Cast: Ajay Devgan, Kajol
Production House: Devgan Films
Plot: It’s some sort of love story with psychiatry in the background.


Why it might be worth seeing
There was a lot of excitement about this in India, though I think in the end reviews were mixed (some were very good though - especially in regards to the story).
Ajay Devgan and Kajol are married in real life, but the funny thing is that their pairing on screen has rarely gotten people excited. Apparently, the first time they appeared together in a film (I think this was still before they were married) most people thought there was no chemistry whatsoever and the film flopped! They have kept appearing with each other though and in U, Me Aur Hum most of the audience seem to have been positive about the pairing, but the raves have not been anywhere near the ones for Kajol-Shahrukh or Kajol-Aamir.
I’ve never seen them together so I guess I’m quite curious about that and the other thing is that this is Ajay Devgan’s debut as a director.

Paheli (India, 2005)

Polish Distributor: Blink (14th November 2008)
Director: Amol Palekar
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Rani Mukherji, Amitabh Bachchan, Juhi Chawla, Anupam Kher, Naseeruddin Shah, Sunil Shetty
Production House: Red Chillies Entertainment
Plot: A folk tale about the love between a woman and a ghost.

The trailer is here

Why it might be worth seeing
This feels a little strange cause I already have seen this one (and even own the DVD), but it would have been odd to leave it out, so here goes…
It’s a folk kind of story, which is very rare for Bollywood. It’s not a popular genre (this film flopped too). But despite that it was (controversially) chosen to represent India at the Academy Awards.
My main reason for seeing it at the time apart from the above was of course Shahrukh ;) He both starred in and produced the film. It’s very unusual to see him in this sort of film so I remember being very curious about that, but in the end I didn’t like him in it that much. Rani Mukherji, however, is terrific and she totally steals the show (and Shahrukh knows it - it was obvious from his interviews about the film). I think this was the film that made me into a big Rani Mukherji fan *grin*

Dor (India, 2006)

Polish Distributor: Blink (probably early 2009)
Director: Nagesh Kunkunoor
Cast: Ayesha Takia
Production House: Sahara One Motion Pictures, Percept Picture Company
Plot: (from imdb)

Shankar Singh and his wife, Meera, live in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India along with widowed paternal grandmother, Laxmibai, his mom, Gowri, and dad, Randhir. The family feel that they are blessed after Meera’s entry in this family. Shankar must go and abroad in Saudi Arabia and bids farewell to Meera, promising to keep in touch, which he does, and also sends them a large portion of his earnings, which is used to pay off the family’s debts. Then when no word is received from him, a worried Meera phones, and is devastated to learn that Shankar has been killed by being thrown off a 10th floor balcony. Her status quickly changes, her jewelery, ornaments, fancy clothes are taken off, and she is told to remain indoors. wear dark clothes, and is only allowed to pray at a Mandir. Things brighten up for Meera when she befriends an Islamic woman, Zeenat, who has come all the way from Himachal Pradesh to look for her husband, Amir Khan. Shortly thereafter, Meera’s world is turned upside down when she finds out that her father-in-law plans to make her the mistress of a wealthy building contractor, Chopra, for a sum of Five Lakh Rupees; she endures further trauma when she finds out that Zeenat is the wife of the man who has been accused of killing her husband, is merely here to persuade her to sign a Mafi-Naama, which would ensure the release of her husband from the Saudi jails, and prevent his death. Hurt, humiliated and confused Meera refuses to sign this document, and is confined to a locked room by Randhir. It looks like Zeenat may lose her husband after all, and Meera may end up being Chopra’s temporary mistress.

The trailer is here.

Why it might be worth seeing
To broaden horizons ;) I haven’t heard much about this film, but it sounds like it’s a less commercial film and I often find the less commercial Bollywood stuff very interesting.

Mr and Mrs Iyer (India, 2002)

Polish Distributor: Blink (sometime in 2009)
Director: Aparna Sen
Cast: Rahul Bose, Konkona Sen Sharma
Plot: (from imdb)

A bus is setting out to Calcutta from a village in West Bengal. Meenakshi Iyer, who is from a strict orthodox Hindu background, is leaving to Chennai for her husband, with her young child, after the vacation with her parents. By chance, she gets a co-passenger who is also to Chennai, Rajah, a photographer, introduced by one of the friends of her father. During the journey they build a good relationship. But a Hindu-Muslim communal riot sets out in the meantime, in some areas they had to travel. Then she comes to face the fact that Rajah is not a Hindu but a Muslim whose real name is Jehangir. Even though she curses herself at that time while some Hindu fanatics evade their bus she saves him introducing as Mr. Iyer. But they have to reach their destination while the other passengers know Rajah as no one else but Mr. Iyer.

I couldn’t find a trailer or a decent clip from the film, so instead here’s a funny clip from an interview with Rahul Bose and Konkona Sen Sharma. Mainly it’s about nudity, kissing etc. (in context of this film), but really it’s just them argueing all the time - it’s hilarious *grin*

Why it might be worth seeing
First things first - this is not Bollywood, it’s a Bengali film. Bengali language cinema has some of the strongest traditions of any of the Indian film industries. Satyajit Ray, who AFAIK is the only Indian filmmaker who was ever awarded an Academy Award (for Lifetime Achievement), made Bengali films. I was blown away when I first saw the Apu Trilogy - it’s up there quality-wise with the European and American classics of the 50s.
So one of the reasons I’d really like to see this is that I’ve seen no modern Bengali films. I should finally change that… Also, Aparna Sen (the director) is quite an important name and I’ve seen none of her films. Finally I really like Konkona Sen Sharma and have wanted to finally discover Rahul Bose. He’s interested me ever since I first saw the interview I linked to above and that was years ago ;)

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