Category Archives: Bollywood

Aamir Khan: India’s First Superhero

Aamir Khan: India’s First SuperheroThe Oscar nominated movie Lagaan forever put Aamir Khan on our maps. It was his production company’s first movie and, boy, did he get it right. Since then he has become one of the most elusive and perplexing celebrities of Bollywood.  He avoids all award ceremonies and manages to stay under the radar for months at a time. We haven’t seen much of him since his small acting role in Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) which was his wife, Kiran Rao’s, directorial debut in 2010. However, this past Sunday, Aamir Khan managed to push another boundary.

 SMJ Theme:

For months now, there are has been a lot of speculation surrounding Khan’s upcoming TV show. Until recently, it was unheard of for successful Bollywood movie-actors to return to TV. That was until the rise of reality TV which displayed a wide range of well known celebrities, from the likes of Amitabh Bachchan to Shilpa Shetty hosting some sort of reality show. Most assumed that Aamir Khan had decided to go the same way but he managed to stay true to his reputation and do the unexpected.

Satayamev Jayate (SMJ), which translates to Truth Alone Prevails, aired its first episode on Star World this past Sunday at 11 AM (IST). Khan started the show by saluting mothers and their undeniable love for their children. In all his humility and sincerity, he- went on to touch on the most despicable of illnesses that Indian society faces today: Female Infanticide. Khan’s guests were everyday women that had been victims to these societal ailments and he didn’t shy away from shedding a tear or two for their adversities. It was painful and uncomfortable to watch. It was an hour and a half of soul awakening stories punctuated by statistics and scientific proof mentioned by Khan. In true Lagaan style, he ended his show by professing his love for his country and countrymen. He made sure to remind all that these problems were everyone’s and even showed how everyone could get involved right away. As the screen darkened, there was not a dry eye in all of India.

In a country where movie stars are treated like royalty, celebrities have long been used to endorse products and companies. Khan, in all his brilliance, has figured out the formula to apply his celebrity status to endorse morality. Depicting reality in a Bollywood movie has been a known ingredient for disaster at the box office, but SMJ manages to pull back the rug to expose the dirt that has been brushed under it. Stories regarding female infanticide and the skewed gender ratios in many parts of India have always been pushed aside for the hard hitting journalists to deal with. Khan has the nation not only talking about it but poised and ready to do something about it. It is only through educating and informing that change can be achieved and it is only fitting that the perfectionist of Bollywood is the one exposing the imperfections.

You can watch the full episode on SMJ’s official YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1vASMbEEQc

http://browngirlmagazine.com/2012/05/aamir-khan-indias-first-superhero/


Love, sex, passion…murder?

In what seems to be a Bollywood sequel to Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, an intense story of a tragic love triangle has emerged. The individuals involved were attractive, intelligent, and on the path to bright careers.

Maria Monica Susairaj is an up and coming actress from Karnataka, India where she had already starred in 3 movies. In 2008, at the age of 27, Susairaj decided to move to Mumbai to try her luck in Bollywood movies. She left behind her long-time boyfriend, a Navy Lieutenant named Emile Jerome Mathew, who was then 25 years old. Though they maintained a long distance relationship, Mathew grew increasingly suspicious of Susairaj. Specifically, suspicious of the nature of Susairaj’s relationship with a small time TV executive named Neeraj Grover, also then 25. Susairaj and Grover met through a mutual friend in Mumbai and hit it off from the start. They began to meet every day from April 29, 2008 to the fateful day on May 7, 2008.

Neeraj Grover

 

In 2007, Susairaj had discovered a six month long affair between Mathew and a Bangalore-based woman. After Susairaj confronted her boyfriend, he promised to end it. In true Bollywood-style turn of events, Susairaj and Grover began an intimate relationship in 2008. They met at coffee shops and spent nights at each other’s apartments. Grover had moved to Mumbai from Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh for his chance at stardom. He spoke to his parents twice a day and was popular with the ladies. Grover had promised Susairaj a part in an upcoming television show and had already told his friends that he was in love with her. Susairaj knew this and claimed the attraction was one-sided, pointing out that she planned to marry Mathew.

On May 6, 2008, Susairaj asked Grover for help setting up her new apartment. As they were doing so, Mathew called and overheard Grover ask loudly, “Is that your boyfriend?” The next two times that Mathew called Susairaj’s cell phone, it was switched off. Mathew then called Grover’s cell phone and spoke to Susairaj, he told her to make sure not to let him spend the night. On account of his suspicions, Mathew took a 3:45 AM flight to Mumbai and arrived at Susairaj’s door at 7:30 AM on May 7. When Susairaj opened the door, Mathew looked at her calmly and walked into the bedroom with her close behind him.

“Mathew walked into her bedroom and found Grover there. He woke him up and the two fought bitterly before Mathew got a knife from the kitchen and stabbed him in the chest. He then attacked him several times till he was dead. The whole thing was over in 10 to 15 minutes. Mathew then slapped Susairaj once or twice, after which they had sex. They then decided on the best way to get rid of Grover’s body,” said Rakesh Maria, then Crime Branch Joint Commissioner of Mumbai.

Susairaj made a trip to the nearby mall and bought a large knife, plastic bags, air freshener and drapes to replace the ones that had been bloodied in the struggle. Upon returning to the apartment, they dragged the body into the bathroom and chopped Grover’s body into pieces and packed it into the plastic bags. They packed away their bloody clothes along with it. Susairaj then arranged for a car and helped Mathew carry the bags to the car, which the doorman witnessed. They stopped to pick up some gasoline and drove around Mumbai for 3 hours, finally finding a desolate area to burn the remnants of Grover’s body.

On May 9, Mathew returned to the Kochi Naval Base where he had been previously stationed. On May 10, Susairaj went with three of Grover’s friend to file a missing person report with the police. It wouldn’t be until May 21 that Rakesh Maria’s investigation would lead to the arrest of Susairaj and Mathew followed by a three-year long court case.

On July 1, 2011 the final verdict was revealed. Emile Jerome Mathew was convicted of murder in a crime of passion and guilty of destruction of evidence resulting in a sentence of 10 years. Maria Monica Susairaj was found guilty of destruction of evidence and sentenced to 3 years, which she had already served at the duration of the case. She walked free on July 2nd.

The stunned masses of India are only left to question. Was justice served? What would drive two individuals from upstanding backgrounds such as theirs to commit such horrendous acts? Who is truly to blame?

The upcoming book Death in Mumbai by Meenal Baghel (excerpt) follows the families and individuals involved and the court cases, raises other questions on a much broader spectrum. Questions relating to sexual equality, the role of “casual sex” in Indian society, and the generation gap are explored. All the individuals came from middle class, achieving families but the parents never understood their children and the kinds of lives they lived. In a recent interview Baghel says (about Susairaj), “She really wanted to marry Emile. He wasn’t committing to her. It’s a fact. So, she came to Mumbai. She got acquainted to Neeraj and that led to his murder.” Baghel goes so far as to call this a “Crime of Youth.”

On August 19, Ram Gopal Verma released the movie Not A Love Story. It follows the storyline of this incident but the official statement from the director is that the movie is not based on the true crime. The announcement was made after the Grover family expressed their disapproval towards the making of a movie about the death of their son.

The movie focuses on the love and passion shared between the partners in crime and skims over the emotions of the families involved. It gives an uncomfortable interpretation and makes an attempt to almost justify the murderers’ actions. It portrays the female character as a victim of circumstance. Only the passion is held responsible for the crime. The final message of the movie states, “The prosecution wants them killed. Their lawyers want them to kill each other. They want to be killed together.

http://browngirlmagazine.com/2011/08/love-sex-passion-murder/

 

 

 


Spoiler Alert! 7 Khoon Maaf Analysis

Dun dun dun, I am ready to take on the un-thinkable! I’ve been searching all day online to see if anyone else has done any analyses on this movie just to see what others have understood of this movie. So far, nothing. Anyway, so here’s my take on the movie.

I just want to say that I really did enjoy this movie. It had moments that made me cringe, but that is the kind of movie this is. It has a dark, gloomy and looming feeling. It’s not a suspense or a thriller. It’s a biography of a deeply disturbed woman. The classic story of a femme fatale from beginning to end. Despite being the good-natured person you are, you find yourself rooting for Susanna throughout the movie. Mentally urging her on to kill her next husband and feeling a sigh of relief at the death of her last no-good, waste-of O2 of a husband.

This is the list of her husbands that she marries and kills off, along with their fatal flaw:

1. Edwin Rodrigues (Neil Nitin Mukesh) – The crippled army major who is verbally abusive and overly possessive.

2. Jimmy Stetson (John Abraham) – The musician who steals his music and is a drug addict, along with issues of infidelity.

3. Wasiullah Khan (Irrfan Khan) – The physically abusive poet.

4. Nicolai Vronsky (Aleksandr Dyachenko) – The Russian spy with a second wife and children in Russia.

5. Keemat Lal (Annu Kapoor) – The sex addicted police inspector.

6. Dr. Modhusudhon Tarafdar ( Naseeruddin Shah) – The Bengali doctor who tries to kill her for her money.

What’s that you say? That’s only 6 murders? Wait for it, will you!

At the end of this movie, I’m sure a lot of people walked out thinking “What the hell did I just watch?”

My take on the general theme of this movie is that her husbands, each one of them, embodied one of the 7 deadly sins as seen in Christianity. I haven’t read the original short story (Susanna’s Seven Husbands) by

Ruskin Bond so I’m not sure if the adapted characters in the movie are exactly as he describes them in the book or not. But, as far as the movie goes, each husband was portrayed in such a way that one of the 7 Deadly Sins was embedded into the personality of the character.

1. Edwin is Vanity. He is so proud of being an esteemed Army major that he cannot stand for his wife to do things that he does not approve of. She is required to be a dutiful and submissive wife. She must do as she is told and not argue. His vanity is further proven when Susanna expresses that their problems with conception are not her fault.

2. Jimmy the Musician is Gluttony. Though he is a man of many faults, his drug addiction is what pushes Susanna over the edge to finally murder him.

3. Wasiullah Khan, the poet, is Wrath. I think this one speaks for itself. Despicable. The contrast should be made here that anger is a hot emotion and Wasiullah’s death is by burial in the cold snow.

4. Nicolai is Envy. This one is a little different because the Deadly Sin is not seen in her husband, rather, in Susanna. She envies that he has another wife who has borne him children. I was the saddest about seeing this husband be murdered. I felt he deserved a second chance and that he may have truly loved her. I felt that she didn’t give him enough of a chance to explain himself. By this point of the movie, Susanna had begun to descend in to madness.

5. Inspector Keemat Lal is Lust. Self-explanatory. This is the relationship Susanna was least emotionally invested in. Death by Viagra.

6. Finally, Dr. Modhusudhon is Greed. Also, self-explanatory. Death by Russian Roulette.

The final sin that we’re missing here is Despair. Susanna is Despair throughout the movie and it is despair that leads her to become a nun at the end of the movie. Based on the overall theme of the movie, I think it is safe to conclude that the 7th murder is of her old self. The Susanna that searched high and low to find a partner to share her life with and be complete with. The death of her faithful maid in the fire goes hand in hand with this because it was Susanna’s Despair that caused her to light the fire. The skeleton of her maid was used to prove that Susanna had died in the fire.

Naseeruddin Shah and Neil Nitin Mukesh did a great job in this movie. Of course, Priyanka Chopra as well. Not an easy job to play the anti-heroine of a movie.

I felt that there was a lot of the movie that was left up to the audience to figure out and I would’ve liked a little more detail on Susanna and her motives. I would’ve liked to see this movie be done backwards. Starting from the ending of her becoming a nun to the last murder and moving into the first murder and at the very end of the movie, explaining her childhood and the loss of her parents and how that affected her psychologically. That would’ve made a better and more conclusive movie to watch. Even better, maybe completely chop up the movie into bits and show a scene of Susanna talking to one husband, then walking down the aisle with another, then listening to poetry from another, then killing another, and finally ending the movie with somehow tying it all together and making sense of it. That way, the audience would figure it out and watch the movie a second time knowing what to look for and to get a full understanding of it. Still, a good effort but there was much room for improvement. This movie definitely hasn’t done well at the Box Office because you can’t expect people to get such a detailed understanding from this movie by just watching it. However, it will definitely go down in the books as a commendable effort by Priyanka Chopra.


Band Baaja Baaraat Review

I don’t really have too much to say about this movie. It’s not deep or dramatic like most of the movies I review on here but it is a good movie to watch if you wanna watch a movie that doesn’t have you sitting on the edge of your seat for 1.5-3 hours (depending on whether you’re watching a Hollywood or Bollywood suspense movie haha). At the end of the movie, it leaves you feeling happy and totally in love with the characters. 

Ranveer Singh is debuting with this movie and I am totally head over heels! He doesn’t come from a film-y family history like 99.99% of Bollywood today. He is living proof of dreams coming true by working hard for what you want, definitely an inspiration! He has bagged all the awards for Best Debut Male for 2010 and seeing him crying while accepting his first award at the Star Plus Awards Ceremony made me love him that much more. This movie came out over 2 months ago but I waited so long to watch it because 60% of what B-wood churns out is total crap and especially, with newcomers you never know what to expect (usually expect the worst). Only reason I decided to watch this movie is because of the awards Ranveer won. Also, the trailer didn’t do much for me. Only after watching the movie was I all giggly and teenage girl like, haha.

Anushka Sharma does a great job as well. I think the chemistry between her and Ranveer were definitely the reason for that. To be honest, I never liked her in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (her debut movie) or Badmaash Company but she is definitely love-able and enjoyable in this movie. Her character didn’t annoy the crap out of me like most of the female characters in Bollywood movies.

Overall, good movie. Watch it on a bad day and it’ll help you feel better.

EDIT: OH heyyyyyyy, It’s Vday! Perfect day to watch this movie!


Spoiler Alert! Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries) Ending Analysis

I’ve been wanting to do this post for a few days now but haven’t found the time to. My busy schedule makes me question my ability to dedicate myself to this blog but so far so good!

Anyway, let’s begin by reminding ourselves of the last few scenes of the movie.

Arun (Aamir Khan) comes to the ending of Yasmeen’s (Kriti Malhotra) third video-letter to her brother. Her face is touched with agony, her tone is grave and her words are decisive but apologetic. She asks for understanding and forgiveness from her brother and family. It is obvious what she is planning to do. 

The portrayal of Arun’s relationship with Yasmeen is a beautiful one. This woman that he has never met in real life teaches him to appreciate the intricate beauties in life. Yasmeen’s own life is so tormented and full of deceit, yet her innocence and love for all things beautiful is apparent. She becomes Arun’s muse and he, once again, learns to be happy and enjoy life. Even Shai (Monica Dogra) points out at one point that he seems happier. These videos of a woman that could’ve lived even ten years before him in that apartment becomes a cathartic experience for him.

The next time we see Arun, he is sitting on his couch with his eyes closed and is in complete distress over Yasmeen’s final words. He opens his eyes, and once again, his eyes fall upon the hook in the ceiling and the frayed piece of rope on it. These were amongst the first things he had noticed when he first moves into that apartment.  The shock and emotions that overtake Arun as all the pieces fall into place are so human that I couldn’t help being moved. Arun runs out of his apartment and is overwhelmed by tears. The juxtaposition of his silent and un-moving neighbor that looks upon him as he cries is very strong. This seemingly emotion-less man who is overcome by such emotion and a frail, lonesome woman whose years of difficulty are written into each line of her face are the only two people in this powerful scene.

Next, Arun is seen at the beach, thoughtfully turning over Yasmeen’s ring and necklace in his hands. We can only assume that he tossed it into the water, symbolizing the letting-go of his own emotional afflictions.

The consequent scene is of Munna (Prateik Babbar) at his brother’s funeral, Salim (Danish Hussain). For me, this signified the burial of two things; Yasmeen’s story and Munna’s love for Shai. Also, a realization by the two men that life is short. This is also the pivotal scene where we realize that Munna is now a changed man. He is no longer the dhobi with the boy-ish charm but, rather, a man who is ready to take on the responsibility of his younger brother and mother. We see him pack up all his things and move his family into a bigger place to live. We see him approach a man about wanting any role, no matter how small, in a movie.

Arun moves into a newer apartment. As he looks out the window of his new apartment we see that it is far removed from the main city of Mumbai, whereas previously, he had specifically wanted a place that was right in the middle of it. Once he is moved into his new apartment, we see him unpack his new painting and admire it. Something we have never seen Arun do; admire his own art work. At this point, I think it is safe to say that Arun has a new appreciation for life.

Jumping to the final scene of the movie; Munna rips out Arun’s address from his book and hands it to Shai. She is shocked that he has it because of his earlier insinuation that Arun probably went back to Australia to his ex-wife and child. Soon, Shai comes to a realization and we see a tear roll down her face as she balls up the address in her hand. Munna tearing out that page signifies him cutting off all ties with Arun, and maybe even Shai. Shai realizes the finality of this but also becomes aware of her own feelings towards Munna. That, after all, getting information about Arun wasn’t the reason she had wanted to spend time with Munna but, that she actually enjoyed spending time with him. Munna walks away with an elusive smile on his face; satisfied with choosing his ambition and family over his love for Shai.


No One Killed Jessica

This movie is based on the real-life story of model Jessica Lall who was killed by Manu Sharma, the son of a wealthy Congress politician from Haryana, in 1999 when she refused to serve him a drink at a club.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and theme of this movie. Isn’t it always fun to expose how corrupt our politicians are? Yea, I think so too.

The main characters of this movie:

Sabrina (Vidya Balan) is Jessica’s sister and makes it her responsibility to make sure that justice is served to the criminal.

Meera (Rani Mukherjee) is the badass journalist who gets involved in the case when the judicial system seems to fail.

I loved Sabrina’s character.  The older and responsible daughter who takes it upon herself to be the one to alleviate her family’s pain and agony in the months and years following her sister’s murder. I guess, I relate to her in many ways since I’ve known myself to step into those shoes whenever my family experiences distressing times. Also, Sabrina’s fashion sense and dressing goes perfectly in sync with her character. Raj Kumar Gupta has done a great job of creating (at least one) believable and realistic character. Vidya Balan does a great job of portraying Sabrina. Sabrina’s pain and anguish is never lost in any scene.

Meera…where do I begin? WHY? WHY GUPTA WHY? I understand that Myra’s character was supposed to be a stark opposite of Sabrina but why the obscenities? You can be a bad-ass without having to curse. And fine, she curses but WHY in English?? Are there not enough obscenities in Hindi? Even in American movies, most of them that are rated R for obscene language, I feel like that it can be avoided by them NOT cursing. 99.99% of the time the language isn’t essential to the plot of the movie. (And yes, I am referring to the f-bomb. Oh yea, they’re doing that in Bollywood these days. Scandalous, huh?) So why here? Meera’s role, like I mentioned above is supposed to be of a bad-ass journalist who does not fear anything. I think that could have been well captured without the f-word. She often referred to herself as a bitch, which didn’t make sense because, really, no one is proud of calling themselves that.

Also, I would’ve liked to see Rani in a much more cleaned up look for the scenes when she is in the office, something more of an Eva Mendes look from the movie Hitch. It would’ve made the inverted personalities of Meera and Sabrina more blatant. Also, what was the deal with Rani using cliched phrases unnecessarily? Here’s some of the ones she used:

“Fly solo”

“Straight from the horse’s mouth”

It just sounded awkward and out of place even though the context she was using it in was correct. I think I would’ve liked to see Priyanka or even Kangana Ranaut in this role instead of Rani. Maybe even, (shall I dare say it?) Kajol! For me, Rani did a mediocre job in the movie.

Overall, this movie gets a B+ from me considering the story line and lack of a male protagonist.


Dhobi Ghat (Mumbai Diaries)

My first post and I’m starting with my best foot forward; an Aamir Khan Production. I really should be studying or something else but I just have to get off my chest how amazing this movie is. I must say, you might want to watch the movie first. I really don’t hold anything back.

The movie is a bout 4 different characters living in Mumbai coming from different social classes.

Arun is a painter that likes to be alone.

Munna is a dhobi by day and rat killer by night and, yet, aspires to become an actor.

Yasmeen is a newly married woman that records her everyday life on a video camera to send as a video letter to her brother.

Shai is an investment banker who has come to Mumbai on sabbatical leave to photograph the lives of average Mumbai-ans.

Without getting too much into the story line, I want to talk about the deeper meaning that I took away from this movie.

At first, as an avid Bollywood movie-watcher, I found the ending to be very anti-climatic and felt slightly cheated. I mean, a cliff hanger is definitely not what you expect from a Bollywood movie. As I tried to fall asleep that night,  my mind kept wandering back to Munna and the tears that Shai shed at the final scenes of the movie. This is where the movie captures you. It is the picturization of the little things that stay with you, just as they do in real life. It is as though you are reading a book into the lives of these characters’ intertwined lives, thus the name Mumbai Diaries. The open ending tells you that, just like in real life, there isn’t a conclusion to everything. Most of life is open to interpretation.

Most of Bollywood focuses on things people want to have, this is the first movie that tells you to make the best of whatever you have. That happiness isn’t in your material possessions but in your experiences with the people you meet and friendships you make and break. That love isn’t always happy and all-conquering. That reality isn’t an over-produced, glitzed and glam-ed Karan Johar movie. That true beauty lies in emotions and your connections with those around you.

Despite this movie taking place in Mumbai, it is the human nature and emotion that makes everyone feel a connection to the characters. The strongest scene in this movie is the silent and un-moving neighbor of Arun. How many people do we see every day but aren’t able to reach out to?

I love this new wave of Hindi movies that Aamir Khan has opened up the door to. The attention to detail and the understanding of what the audience needs to see, rather than wants to see. This movie lacks the racy scenes that are blatant (and disgusting) in most Bollywood movies these days. The intimacy between the characters is accomplished by the tender and fleeting touch of hands or Arun’s soft touch of Shai’s toe-ring. This gives it an air of class that other movies just fail to achieve.

Directed and written by Aamir Khan’s wife, Kiran Rao, it is obvious that she has made her mark in the film industry by this first film. Her choice of new faces and giving her star-husband the smaller, but complicated, role of Arun are all commendable directorial decisions.

I already can’t wait for my next dose of Aamir Khan!