I updated my list of Bollywood movies on Heera because the Amazon channel just increased its Hindi film collection by more than 25%! Heera added 79 movies to its streaming catalog, including a ton of titles from Yash Raj Films and a bunch of interesting older fare. Highlights include Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham…, Ishaqzaade, Mere Brother Ki Dulhan, and Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. I’m inordinately excited that the horror flick Khamoshiyan is now available, just because it gives me an excuse to post a screenshot of one of the movie’s many amazing set decorations (seriously, if anyone knows where I can buy this painting, please let me know!):
[Update: The scoop from Sofia on Twitter is that these may not be “new” additions, as they’ve all been available to her since she subscribed last month. They only appeared in my results on Saturday, and I check Heera’s catalog everyday. Hrmmm…]
Netflix added a bunch of Hindi films to their streaming catalog today, according to Instant Watcher. Most of the titles are old favorites that were temporarily dropped from the service. I’ve reviewed many of the movies, so here’s my ranking of the films just added to Netflix:
In 2008, the Indian film industry proved that it’s still the most reliable source for romantic comedies. International settings made Dostana and Kismat Konnectionstand out from the crowd, while Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi closed the year on a high note.
Taking a slightly more serious tone, U Me Aur Hum effectively combined comedic and dramatic elements in a touching story about love and responsibility.
Beyond the romantic comedy genre, historical epic Jodhaa Akbar featured gorgeous cinematography. Rock On!! took the movie musical format in an exciting new direction. And Black & White thoughtfully addressed the subject of terrorism. I only wish it had been India’s official entry into the Oscar competition for Best Foreign Film, instead of Taare Zameen Par.
But the most accomplished, satisfying and entertaining Hindi-language movie of 2008 was another romantic comedy: Bachna Ae Haseeno. The high quality of the acting, cinematography and story-telling gave the film universal appeal. Actor Ranbir Kapoor redeemed himself after an awkward debut in Saawariya, and Deepika Padukone’s charming performance demonstrated that she might be Bollywood’s best young actress.
In RNBDJ, Khan plays Suri, a mild mannered guy who fulfills his mentor’s dying wish by marrying the mentor’s daughter, Taani (Anushka Sharma). Though Suri’s older and less flashy than she is, Taani accepts her new role as his wife, with the caveat that she’ll never be able to love him because of her broken heart. Timid Suri, unable to show his wife how much he loves her, secretly invents a flashy alter ego named Raj in order to bring some joy into Taani’s life.
Chopra thoroughly explains the emotions motivating Suri and Taani, and Khan and Sharma perfectly portray the characters. The relationship between the pair is believable, despite the age difference between the duo (Khan is 43 and Sharma is 19). Sharma’s nuanced performance makes it hard to believe that this is her first film.
Cases of mistaken identity are often hard to pull off onscreen, but Khan looks and acts so differently as Suri and Raj that it seems totally reasonable that Taani wouldn’t know that the two men are the same person.
RNBDJ trips up late in the film during a sequence in which Suri battles a sumo wrestler. The scene is so long and out of place that it completely brought me out of the movie. While the scene intends to show that Suri would do anything to make Taani happy, I would rather have seen more examples of that interspersed throughout the film. Taani continually performs small acts of kindness for Suri, while Suri’s affection seems to stop after providing Taani with a place to live, only to rekindle during the over-the-top sumo showdown. Suri doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d try to impress his wife with a big spectacle.
Apart from the one misstep, the movie is flawless. Chopra’s attention to detail is especially obvious during RNBDJ‘s big dance number, “Phir Milenge Chalte Chalte.” I’m almost always distracted by the background dancers in item numbers: one dancer is out of sync with the others, another is wearing an unflattering outfit, etc. No such worries, here. When I noticed the background dancers in RNBDJ, they looked spectacular. But most of the time, my attention was on the lead couple, as it should be.
Yash Raj Films production Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi opens this Friday, December 12, in theaters across the United States. In the Chicago area, you can catch RNBDJ at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville and the AMC South Barrington 30. Check AMC’s website for showtimes.
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi reunites Shah Rukh Khan with the director of Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, Aditya Chopra. Can Chopra recreate the success of DDLJ, or will Shah Rukh’s nerdy moustache prove too distracting?