International Women’s Day double bill ~ Queen and Gulaab Gang

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queen poster

Gulaab Gang Poster 1

Although it wasn’t on purpose, I can’t help thinking that it’s appropriate I spent March 8, International Women’s Day, watching two women-centric Bollywood movies – Queen and Gulaab Gang. That being said, Queen was by far the best of the two, although Gulaab Gang is not without its merits. Regardless, it’s so great to have more women-centric movies coming out of Bollywood, and I hope there will be many more to come.

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Highway ~ the world was all before them

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Highway-Movie-Poster

During the first few minutes of Highway, Dolce Namak leaned over to me and whispered, “nobody does an opening sequence like Imtiaz Ali,” and I couldn’t agree more. If the title hadn’t tipped you off already, the opening sequence makes clear that in Highway Imtiaz Ali continues his fascination with journeys, both literal and emotional. Expectations were high going into Highway, since Imtiaz Ali’s previous film Rockstar is one I love quite fiercely. However I was not disappointed by Highway. In fact I loved it so much I’m having trouble expressing myself, but I have tried my best. It’s tempting to compare Highway to Rockstar, since both films have elements in common, but they are in fact very different films. While Rockstar had a very epic feel about it, Highway, in contrast, feels very intimate.

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A long rant about Gunday

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Gunday Poster

Gunday is the story of Bala (Arjun Kapoor) and Bikram (Ranveer Singh) who meet as orphaned children in a refugee camp in Bangladesh circa 1971. They get involved in the illegal gun trade, but when Bala shoots and kills a camp guard who was about to sexually assault Bikram they are forced to flee by train to Calcutta. Once there, they get jobs in a cafe but are soon fired and turn to stealing and selling coal. Ten years later, the now-adult Bala and Bikram kill the bandit at the head of the black market coal trade and take over his business. They expand into other areas of the black market and become Calcutta’s biggest gangsters, using their ill-gotten gains to open schools and hospitals. But the good times are interrupted by the arrival of two people in their lives: ACP Sarkar (Irrfan Khan) brought to Calcutta to bring down Bala and Bikram’s criminal empire, and cabaret dancer Nandita (Priyanka Chopra) with whom both young men “fall in love.”

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Hasee Toh Phasee

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hasee toh phasee parineeti chopra 01hasee toh phasee sidharth malhotra 01 Hasee Toh Phasee is the story of Nikhil (Sidharth Malhotra) who has been dating Karishma (Adah Sharma) for the last seven years. But on the eve of their wedding Karishma’s estranged sister Meeta (Parineeti Chopra) turns up, and while they spend time together over the next seven days, the feelings that blossom between Nikhil and Meeta become impossible to ignore.

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One By Two

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one-by-two-movie-posterI’m a big fan of Abhay Deol so I was very disappointed when January 31 rolled around and there was no sign of his new movie One By Two at any of the usual movie theatres in Toronto. Then, on Saturday morning, I was checking my Facebook and came across an interesting and exciting message from Abhay Deol’s page – that One By Two was available to stream for those outside India and Nepal via Facebook. So on Saturday night I hunkered down with my laptop and paid my $4.99 USD ($5.66 CAD :P) for what was technically a 48-hour rental of the film. I wasn’t feeling very optimistic that the film would come with English subtitles – but it actually did!

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Dedh Ishqiya

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dedh-ishqiya-posterI know I watched Ishqiya – at the time I even wrote that I found it “entertaining” – but four years on I can’t remember anything about it. At the moment I can’t help but wonder if I should have re-watched it before watching its sequel, Dedh Ishqiya, and whether a re-watch would have helped me enjoy the sequel more. It was an okay one-time watch, but not something I think I will revisit.

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Adventures in Unsubtitled Movies ~ 1 (Nenokkadine)

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One-Nenokkadine-Latest-Posters-1-11-1050x699

Sadly, unlike the majority of Hindi and Tamil films, Telugu films still tend to be released overseas without English subtitles. Then again, most typical Telugu masala films can be watching without subtitles and still more-or-less understood. However, 1 (Nenokkadine) is not a typical masala film. On the one hand, this is good. Good for Sukumar for trying something a little different (as he also did with Arya 2), and good for Mahesh Babu for supporting him. On the other hand, this is not so good for non-Telugu fans watching the film without subtitles and trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

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Biriyani

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biriyani-tamil-movie 02

Biriyani

noun

an Indian dish made with highly seasoned rice and meat, fish, or vegetables

origin

from Persian beryā(n) ‘fried, roasted’

Biriyani is the story of two friends, Sugan (Karthi) and Parasuram (Premgi Amaren, who has been in all five of director Venkat Prabhu’s film). They work, along with Sugan’s soon-to-be brother-in-law, for a company that sells farm equipment (I think? The showroom was full of tractors, anyway). The company is opening a new showroom in Ambur, so Sugan and Parasuram drive up there from Chennai. The guest of honour at the showroom opening is wildly successful businessman Varadharajan (Nassar) who takes a shine to Sugan. Sugan and Parasuram ditch a boring party following the opening and go in search of biriyani.

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Dhoom 3

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Dhoom3 03

They seem remarkably unconcerned that their limbs are on fire

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of the Dhoom movies. I haven’t even the first one, and the second one is on my list of “the worst movies I have ever seen in any language.” The only thing that compelled me to watch the third one is the fact that it was filmed in Chicago, a city I visited for the first time this summer and fell in love with immediately. And indeed the parts that were filmed in Chicago do make excellent use of that city’s unique architecture, public art, and waterways.

I wouldn't mind if this spawned a hundred imitations

I wouldn’t mind if this spawned a hundred imitations

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From the vault: Adventures in unsubtitled movies – Chennai edition

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We arrived in Chennai on December 18, 2012 to find the city plastered with posters for a film which, it turned out, had just opened the Friday before. Some of the posters featured a man with an elephant, while others featured the man under a basket with a woman in a yellow field. Luckily we had Dolce Namak‘s friend Mukundh with us, and he told us that the movie was called Kumki, that it was about an elephant trainer, and that it was the debut film of Vikram Prabhu – grandson of the legendary Tamil actor Sivaji Ganesan.

kumki 01Kumki 02I was intrigued by the subject matter of the film, which certainly seemed different from the usual Tamil masala, and I suppose I am also susceptible to advertising, because I decided I would go watch the film. Movie tickets in Tamil Nadu are regulated, which means they always cost 120 rupees no matter what movie you go to see, where, and at what time. As a result, for less than three Canadian dollars I went to a Thursday afternoon show at what is no doubt the fanciest movie theatre I have ever seen. Located on the top floor of the Express Avenue mall, it featured crystal chandeliers, red velvet panels on the wall, and large leather seats. The theatre was fancy – but it was also very loud, and very cold. I found myself wishing I had ear plugs and a blanket.

plush theatre

the appropriately named Plush movie theatre

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