Tag Archives: Blue

Movie Review: Patiala House (2011)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

For Americans interested in learning about Bollywood, sports movies are a good way to start. The formula is largely the same the world over, with a few country- or culture-specific differences. As such, Patiala House feels familiar and offers a good introduction to Bollywood for newcomers.

Part of the reason for Patiala House‘s familiarity is that the plot shares much in common with 2002’s The Rookie, starring Dennis Quaid. In both movies, an ordinary guy gets his first shot in the big leagues at an age when most athletes are considering retirement. In The Rookie, the game is baseball. In Patiala House, it’s cricket.

Akshay Kumar plays Gattu, the dutiful eldest son of a prominent Indian immigrant leader in the London suburb of Southall. In the 1970s, Gattu’s father, Gurtej (Rishi Kapoor), responds to violent attacks on Indians by organizing the immigrants and shunning white British culture. He turns their cul-de-sac into a Punjabi enclave within Southall.

Gurtej’s hatred of white Britishers is so intense that he forced Gattu to turn down an invitation to join the English national cricket team when the boy was 17. Now, at the age of 34, a dejected Gattu manages his father’s corner store, only playing cricket when he practices pitching by himself at a local park late at night.

An English national team scout notices Gattu’s solo practice sessions and asks him to try out for the team. Gattu doesn’t wish to anger his father again, but he’s pressured to try out by Simran (Anushka Sharma), a lovely girl with a tarnished reputation. Gattu’s younger siblings also beg him to join the team, reasoning that if loyal Gattu can stand up to their domineering father, it may give them a chance to follow their own dreams as well.

The movie offers some insight into the insidious nature of racism as it pertains to immigrants. In an effort to protect his family, Gurtej cuts himself off from the dominant culture so completely that he doesn’t notice that things have changed. The fact that he lives in a different world than that of his children takes a toll on the family.

Gurtej makes Amy Chua’s “Tiger Mother” seem like a kitten. He’s so convinced that he knows what’s best for his family — and all the Indians in Southall, really — that he’s impossible to argue with. When his children threaten to engage in any activity that seems remotely British, he threatens suicide. It’s no wonder Gattu’s siblings see him as their only hope for a future they choose for themselves.

The siblings don’t get enough airtime to become fully formed characters. In fact, I’m not 100% certain that they are all biologically related to Gattu; they just live in the same house. Screentime is dominated by Gurtej, Gattu and Simran.

Kumar gives a restrained performance as Gattu, a man so bound by duty that he sacrifices his own happiness. It’s a much stronger showing for Kumar than some of his other recent dramatic roles, as in Blue and 8×10 Tasveer.

Sharma is emerging as one of Bollywood’s brightest stars. She’s beautiful, charming and effortless. Sharma has a wonderful, subtle comic sensibility, and she handles most of the jokes in Patiala House. Her face is so expressive, and she’s able to pull off a pratfall without overdoing it.

The fact that Patiala House is somewhat predictable is actually a selling point. Sports fables should be predictable. We go to them to feel uplifted and hopeful. Patiala House does a fine job being exactly what it’s supposed to be.


Worst Bollywood Movies of 2009

There are a number of factors I considered when selecting candidates for Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009. Movies featuring racist jokes, such as Kambakkht Ishq and All the Best, obviously made the list. Incoherent plots brought Wanted and De Dana Dan to my attention, whereas Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna ignored traditional story structure and skipped the climax all together.

Ek — The Power of One deserves mention for its ridiculous title, which translates in English to “One — The Power of One”.

What’s Your Raashee? was easily the biggest disappointment of the year, coming from Ashutosh Gowariker, the filmmaker responsible for great flicks like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar.

2009 was a particularly bad year for Akshay Kumar. In addition to Kambakkht Ishq and De Dana Dan, he also starred in the bland supernatural thriller 8×10 Tasveer. His two other releases during the calendar year, Blue and Chandni Chowk to China, were fine but forgettable.

Because of their spectacular misunderstanding of human emotions and dubious moral messages, I thought about giving the award to either Kal Kissne Dekha or London Dreams. Kal Kissne Dekha suggested that one’s value is dependent upon one’s ability to save lives via superhuman powers, while London Dreams excused abhorrent behavior so long as it was committed in pursuit of a selfish goal.

But the ultimate winner had to be the most annoying, most cliché-riddled movie of the year, the worst of the worst. And the winner of Worst Bollywood Movie of 2009 is: Do Knot Disturb.

Do Knot Disturb, which deserves the honor based on its stupid title alone, contains all of the bad clichés that dominate Hindi comedies at the moment. The plot is based on a series of misunderstandings which could be clarified if the characters actually had conversations with one another. The jokes are written based on volume instead of quality, under the mistaken belief that what was funny the first time is even funnier the sixth, seventh and eighth time.

Case in point, the high-pitched screaming match between characters played by Govinda and Ritesh Deshmukh. The characters get spooked by something and start shrieking in girlish voices. The gag isn’t original, but it’s not inherently annoying. But in Do Knot Disturb, the characters scream dialogue at each other in those high-pitched voices for the next ten minutes of the movie.

After one minute, the gag had already stopped being funny. After ten minutes, it was unbearable. I actually walked out of the theater and only convinced myself to return out of a sense of journalistic duty. By virtue of having watched all but one minute of the movie, I can say that Do Knot Disturb is the worst Hindi film of 2009.

Previous Worst Movies List

Opening October 30: Aladin and London Dreams

If you can’t get enough Sanjay Dutt, you’re in luck. He’s back in theaters in one of the two new Bollywood films opening in the Chicago area this weekend.

Dutt plays the villain in a live-action version of Aladin, which also stars Ritesh Deshmukh as the title character and Amitabh Bachchan as the genie. Aladin‘s runtime is listed as 2 hrs. 12 min.

This weekend’s other opening is London Dreams, starring Ajay Devgan and Salman Khan as pals whose friendship is tested by international rock stardom. London Dreams has a runtime of 2 hrs. 30 min.

Both movies will open in the Chicago area at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington. London Dreams will play at the AMC Loews Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles as well.

Older Hindi movies sticking around in theaters include Blue and All The Best, both at the South Barrington 30 and Golf Glen 5. Blue will also continue showing at the Cantera 30.

Other Indian films in Chicago area theaters this weekend include the Telugu movie Ek Niranjan and the Malayalam movie Pazhassi Raja at the Golf Glen 5. Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove will show the Tamil movie Kanden Kadhalai.

Movie Review: Blue (2009)

blue2 Stars (out of 4)

Buy the DVD at Amazon
Buy the soundtrack at Amazon

I recently read a post about older actors, including guys like Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone, who should retire from action roles. It’s time to add Sanjay Dutt to that list.

I’ll admit that Dutt was perfectly suited for his role in 2008’s Kidnap, in which he had to kick butt in order to rescue his daughter. But his role in Blue should’ve gone to a younger man.

In Blue, Dutt plays Sagar, a broke fisherman who lives in the Bahamas and works for his pal, wealthy playboy Aarav (Akshay Kumar). Their friendship doesn’t make much sense; I doubt that in real life Kumar goes clubbing with his gardener.

Even more ridiculous is Sagar’s relationship with his girlfriend, Mona (Lara Dutta). Dutta is nearly twenty years younger than Dutt and looks it. Why Mona — a hot, young woman living in the Bahamas — would settle for a poor, old fisherman with no prospects defies explanation.

After some opening scenes in which Sagar and Aarav wrestle a shark (I’m not kidding), the movie cuts abruptly to a new set of characters. A young guy named Sam (Zayed Khan) races motorcycles and gets involved with some shady people, including the lovely Nikki (Katrina Kaif). He’s paid to deliver a satchel to an address somewhere in Thailand.

As I was watching the movie, this task seemed tricky to me since Sam only had a motorcycle. Perhaps he had to take the satchel to the airport?

After an explosive motorcycle chase, Sam tells Nikki, “I’m going to hide out in the Bahamas.”

Wait! We’re not in the Bahamas anymore? A simple line on screen saying “Bangkok, Thailand” when the scenes with Sam started would’ve been nice.

Turns out Sam is Sagar’s younger brother. Much younger, apparently, since Khan is 21 years younger than Dutt in real life.

There’s only the thinnest thread of a plot holding Blue together, and it involves finding treasure on a sunken ship in order to pay off the people from whom Sam fled. Scenes involving the story account for approximately 15% of the movie; the rest is made up of chase scenes, dance numbers, underwater fights, shark footage, shots of womens’ butts and crotch-shots of bikini-clad Lara Dutta. Blue embodies the phrase “style over substance.”

The action scenes are reasonably well done, and the underwater shots are impressive. But being impressed by the movie’s technical execution doesn’t lead one to care about the characters, and I simply didn’t care about any of them.

Perhaps I’m not in the demographic Blue is hoping to appeal to. If I were a 15-year-old boy, I might be more  easily dazzled by the girls in bikinis and the water ski chase scenes. But wouldn’t a 15-year-old boy rather watch an action hero who’s closer to his own age than to that of his father? Or worse, his grandfather?

Opening October 16: Blue, All The Best, and Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna

The Diwali holiday weekend brings three big Hindi films to Chicago area theaters, with Sanjay Dutt playing major roles in two of them.

The first is Blue, an undersea adventure in which Dutt and Akshay Kumar search for treasure on a sunken ship, surrounded by sharks. Kylie Minogue adds a song to A. R. Rahman’s soundtrack: the absurdly-titled “Chiggy Wiggy.” Blue‘s runtime is listed as 1 hr. 55 min.

Next is the second Sanjay Dutt starrer, All The Best. It’s a comedy involving gangsters and a plot to trick Dutt’s wealthy character into believing his step-brother is married. I can’t make heads or tails of it based on the official story summary, nor can I figure out how Ajay Devgan’s auto mechanic character figures into the plot. I have very low expectations for All The Best, which has an official runtime of 2 hrs. 24 min.

Finally, the drama Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna, starring Kareena Kapoor as the title character. After a falling out with her husband (Salman Khan), she must choose between him and another man, played by Sohail Khan, Salman’s real-life younger brother. Main Aurr Mrs. Khanna has a runtime of 2 hrs. 15 min.

All three movies will open on Friday, October 16 at Big Cinemas Golf Glen 5 in Niles, AMC South Barrington 30 in South Barrington and AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville. Blue will also open at AMC Pipers Alley 4 in Chicago and supposedly the Milan Theaters in Waukegan (call the theater first to verify).

Entering its third week in theaters is Wake Up Sid, which has earned $611,574 in U.S. theaters so far. It will continue to play at the Cantera 30 and South Barrington 30. Also continuing for a third week at the South Barrington 30 is Do Knot Disturb. Its total U.S. earnings amount to $213,525.

Other Indian films playing in the Chicago area this weekend include the Tamil film Aadhavan at the Golf Glen 5 and a trio of movies at Sathyam Cinemas in Downers Grove: Eeram (Tamil), Unnaipol Oruvan (Tamil) and Mahatma (Telugu).