Movie Review – Dhanush’s VIP 2 with Kajol!

 

A month or so ago, I saw the teaser for the Tamil film VIP 2 with Dhanush and I was super excited that he was doing a film with Kajol.  This is her first return to Tamil films in 20 years, and it was great to see a woman in the kind of antagonist role that usually goes to a man in Indian cinema, like Sonu Sood et al.

Commenters on Youtube urged me to see the first film VIP before going to the sequel, and I’m so glad I did.

 

VIP 2, unlike many Indian sequels, does indeed carry on the story of the unemployed graduate played by Dhanush.  Pretty much all the main characters and actors from the first film are back, Dhanush still living with his father and brother, and his now wife played by Amala Paul.  I was a little annoyed that the film kind of made Amala’s character into a harpy, but the marital discord has real underpinnings in Dhanush’s characters drinking (an issue in the first film as well), and Amala’s unhappiness at giving up her job to tru live up to Dhanush’s sainted mother’s housekeeping.  At least the film showed that she regained happiness when she goes back to work when the family is in financial crisis — the title says after all that he’s an unemployed graduate!

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Something happens near the end of the film which I won’t spoil that was the perfect way to bring Dhanush and Kajol’s characters together, and to make them resolve their differences.  It was very specific to the place of the film.  Dhanush himself wrote the script and dialogues, and his sister-in-law Soundarya (daughter of Rajnikanth) directed the film.

There are a couple of great dance numbers in the first half of the film, one very modern, and the other a more traditional style.

You can see and enjoy this film without seeing the first, but I’m glad I had seen VIP first because there are many references to the first film.

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Dhanush is Excellent in VIP

In anticipation of Dhahush’s upcoming VIP 2, I took the first VIP movie with me on my recent vacation to watch.  Dhanush is such a good actor!   The title VIP is shortened from Velaiilla Pattadhari (English: Unemployed Graduate)

 

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I am really impressed with Dhanush.  I had previously only seen his Hindi film Raanjhanaa with Sonam Kapoor.  He was very good in that, but his role was kind of stalkerish.

11In VIP, Dhanush plays a young man who has a civil engineering degree, and has been looking for the right job for 4 long years.  His father is frustrated with him.  Dhanush’s younger brother has a good job.  He applies and applies and can’t catch a break.  He belongs to a Facebook group of other unemployed young graduates.  I had no idea this was such an issue in India.

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There’s an adorable romance with Amala Paul who moves in to the house next door.  She sees a lot to admire in this unemployed young man, and can’t help but be witness to all his struggles next door, and family drama.  They have great chemistry together.

Dhanush is fantastic in the couple of action scenes, and a really good dancer.  I also really loved this montage love song:

 

After a family tragedy, a coincidence leads to him getting a break, and getting a construction project.  The second half of the film deals with his struggles with an arrogant young rich developer.  He calls on his extended network of other unemployed graduates to help him out, and it was very moving.

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I’m really excited to see VIP 2 now.  I don’t know if it will be a continuation of the story, or another retelling of a similar unemployed graduate tale.  The key is that it has Kajol! Not sure if she will be his boss or nemesis or what.

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New Trailers for Allu Arjun, Dhanush and Rana!

For Bollyfools, I watched a few of the new Regional trailers, which unfortunately have no subtitles!  Super frustrating.

 

I have only seen Allu Arjun in Rudhramadevi and he was amazing in that, even though he was not the lead.  I watched both the Rom Com feeling teaser, and then the full trailer, neither of which have subs.  Anyone that speaks Telugu, help me out as to what’s going on.  Is it a double role?  The action looks cool, and even though I’m not a Pooja Hegde  (ugh, Mohenjo Daro) fan, the rom com aspect looks adorable.

 

Dhanush has VIP 2 which will also have KAJOL!!  So excited to see her in a new film.  I don’t speak Tamil, and I’ve not seen VIP 1, so I have no idea what’s going on in this trailer.  That ending flying kick looks super cool.   Any translation help would be most appreciated!

 

Kartik from Bollyfools translated Rana’s new teaser for me.  The title means I am the King and I am the Minister.  Rana will be opposite Kajal for the first time, and I’m really excited to see that.  When he’s on the scaffolding with the noose, Rana says, “I will decide when I die, and I will decide when you die!”  I love that shot with him as the prisoner about a foot taller than all the guards behind him.

Podcast with Margaret of Don’t Call It Bollywood!

 

How we met through her masters thesis project, and how we both started watching Indian films!

Befikre – Aditya Chopra gives us a scrumptious light Paris pastry of a romantic film

When you have made the romance Hindi movie that is held up as the gold standard, and is STILL playing in a theater 21 years after it’s release, that’s a lot of pressure.  Aditya Chopra is an excellent producer, but has gone years between directorial projects.  Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is the film that started me on my love of Indian Cinema, and I watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi second — and I was a goner.  It’s hard not to have super high expectations of an Aditya Chopra film.  All three previous films that Chopra has personally directed had superstar Shahrukh Khan as the lead, an actor that he was instrumental in making a superstar with DDLJ.  It was so monumental an announcement that Aditya was casting a new (for him) actor, that Ranveer Singh made a video announcing it and described how he cried walking out of Aditya’s office when he heard the news.

The first teaser trailer of Befikre is in fact the opening credits of the film, showing couples of all shapes, sizes, colors and orientation kissing all over Paris.  Is this Aditya’s shot across the bow to the censor board?  I certainly know I’ve never seen another Hindi film with so much kissing in it, much less gay kisses.

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Our first glimpse of Dharam (Ranveer Singh) and Shrya (Vaani Kapoor) is when a TV is thrown out a window.  It’s the breakup to start, and that is Aditya’s way of telling us this isn’t going to be like every boy and girl meet cute film.  It has a Western and an Indian flavor to it.  He pays homage to DDLJ in a few ways, with a song, and a field of yellow (could be mustard) flowers in the distance in a country scene.  I also see touches of some of my favorite romantic Hollywood films.  There’s a little When Harry Met Sally.  The flashbacks forward and backward over and over was very much like 500 Days Of Summer.  Aditya has taken elements from lots of Hollywood romances, but he makes this film his own, as he is the master.

ranveer-singh-befikre-vaani-kapoor-from-still_a422a78a-abaa-11e6-b4b4-3ed39deda4e7Dharam is new to Paris, and he’s a stand up comic flown in from Dehli to headline a friend’s club.  Have we ever had a stand up comic as an Indian romantic hero before?  That also felt very modern to me.  Shyra meets him at a bar, and their dynamic from the beginning starts with a dare.  “If you do X, then I’ll go out with you.”  ‘Desperate Dharam’ as Shyra calls him, is up for any dare, if it means he can spend more time with this fascinating wild creature.  When he takes her dares, Shyra gets that little spark in her eye – here’s someone who gets me and will go on my kind of adventures.  But she warns him from the first that she won’t be tied down and she doesn’t want him to fall in love with her.  We’ve seen all that from the trailer.  We’ve seen live in relationships in Hindi films, too, but this relationship definitely feels more modern, and Aditya’s gorgeous setting of Paris helps with that.

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Shyra has grown up in Paris with parents from India and she views herself as French, but cooks Paratha when she needs comfort food.  Her parents are stunned when she announces, “I’m not asking for your permission.” that she will be moving in with Dharam.  He tries to make nice with them, by touching their feet.  “Why did you do that?” she asks.  “I just wanted them to know you weren’t moving in with a jerk.”  The mom I recognized as one of the aunties from Dil Dhadakne Do.

Ranveer has his manic energy, and shows more skin than our herione.  Not only is there the red underwear scene from the trailer, but he shows off his bare butt, too.  I really, really liked Vaani Kapoor.  I didn’t remember her really from her first film, Shuddh Desi Romance — I think she was the jilted bride.  She is tough and quirky and independent and Shyra. The dancing they do together is fantastic.  I don’t know that they had that timeless chemistry or heat that Kajol and SRK did, but then again, that was an extraordinary jodi.

In one of my favorite dialogues, Dharam apologizes for calling Shyra a slut in their breakup argument, “It was me who wasn’t experienced.  I’m sorry for saying that.” What happens after Dharam and Shyra breakup becomes interesting, as they are best friends after some time blows over.  This is where many Hollywood romances would start, as they have to cram the whole story into 90 minutes.  She starts dating someone else, but he is not an a**hole, or a jerk.  In fact, he’s almost too perfect, and too grown up.

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This is the part of the movie that felt very much like the new guy was Patrick Dempsey in Sweet Home Alabama.  He is a real choice, but maybe not the right choice.   And maybe not the choice for Shyra that feels like “home”.  He’s not a horrible stereotype like Simran’s fiance in DDLJ.

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The third wheel actor was new to me,  Armaan Ralhan, grandson of a director, so in the filmi family.  He was nice and not just a boring drip of a banker, plus he was more than accepting of her best friendship with Dharam.  He was great.

Things all come to a head in a rather slapstick, almost farcical silly Four Weddings and a Funeral climax way.  It’s not the emotional angst and drama of the climax of DDLJ.

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But you know what?  Sometimes, a French macarons is just what you want.  Lighter than air, oh so sweet, but sophisticated, too, and out of the ordinary.

Also — There’s a cute epilogue scene after the final credits song so stick around for that.

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Still LOVE this song the best.  So catchy!

 

Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya – Or the one where Salman is shirtless with a guitar

pyaar-kiya-toI watched Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (If you loved someone, don’t be afraid) written and directed by Sohail Khan (brother of Salman Khan) over the last two days.  I bought it super cheap in one of my DVD orders from India and it had no subs, but Youtube to the rescue.
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Going in, I knew nothing about the film other than it was a love story with Kajol and Salman Khan coming out the same year as Kuch Kuch Hota Hai.  I didn’t know that Dharmendra has a key role as Kajol’s uncle.  Kajol is an orphan raised by her brother Vishal (Arbaaz Khan) and her uncle.  Vishal is extremely overprotective of her, driving away suitors by beating them up.  Kajol finally convinces her brother to let her attend college, and that’s where she meets Salman Khan, a rather goof off student.  Salman starts the movie shirtless!  This is his intro scene for the movie — the famous “O O Jaane Jaana” song.
pyaar-kiya-to-darna-kya-1998-3Wastrel Salman first wins over Kajol, and then has to win over her family, especially her skeptical brother Vishal.  Salman is particularly ridiculous in many scenes playing his role for broad comedy, and I was wondering if he let the Vishal brother of Kajol character upstage him so much because it was his actual brother. I literally had no idea Arbaaz Khan was Salman Khan’s brother AND that he was the producer of Dabangg.  He is such a looker in Pyaar Kiya Toh Darna Kya!  I think this is one of his first movies, and he did a great job.
 It was interesting that Arbaaz got a whole seduction song with the Ujala character.  (Kajol’s friend Ujala is the one doing the seducing.)  He’s a secondary character that in most movies would not get his own song.  Especially these days Salman is so, well, SALMAN that he overshadows everyone else.  In this earlier movie, he wasn’t quite so much larger than life, if you get what I mean.
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I don’t know that Kajol and Salman had any smolder whatsoever, but they were sweet and cute together.  The first half didn’t grab me, but the second half songs are great, and the finale scene with Dharmendra, Salman and Arbaaz fighting together to rescue Kajol is really something to see.
One other minor note.  The director made Kajol dance in what looked to be the most awkward type sandals for dancing, unless they had a strap on the back I couldn’t see.  Like slip on wedges or something.
Lots of shirtless or nearly so Salman and great songs so worth the watch!
I also don’t remember seeing another movie yet in my watching history, at least, where Dharmendra is playing this uncle fatherly type of role.  That was interesting, too.
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Happy Birthday SRK – My Favorite Shahrukh Khan Movies

unnamedShahrukh Khan was my entree into Indian Cinema.  And it’s all because of Netflix.  Netflix streaming’s algorithm recommended Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge to me because I love romantic movies.  Then I watched Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and I was a goner.  I think my story is similar to many other non-Desi fans of Indian Cinema — Shahrukh Khan is our gateway to this wonderful world of film.  And the internet and Netflix makes it so easy now to really dive into an obsession.

How big a fan of Shahrukh Khan am I?  This is my phone’s lock screen background:

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I’ve seen 50 of Shahrukh Khan’s 70 plus movies.  Picking my favorite Shahrukh Khan films after the top two is like picking my favorite children.  SRK brings something special even in the worst of films.

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The only Shahrukh Khan film I really can’t stand and won’t watch again is King Uncle, and really that’s a Jackie Shroff Annie remake and SRK is barely in it.

But enough of the worst, on to my favorite Shahrukh Khan films:

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10.  Swades

My love of this movie about an NRI who returns home to India is particularly for this song sequence.  In Yeh Tara Woh Tara, when the projector won’t work in the village, SRK leads the children in a song about the stars.  And we get that classic arms outstretched pose projected on the sheet used for the screen.  Just a magical moment of a song.

 

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9.  Chak De India

I love that SRK did this film about a girl’s field hockey team.  Just a masterful performance and a great message.  He’s let his female co-stars have top billing in his films, and here he lets a whole team of them take center stage.

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8. Don

I recently watched the original Don with Amitabh Bachchan, and I am now even more impressed with how Farhan Akhtar kept the spirit of the original, while updating it and giving it a new twist.  Plus he has the cool seventies music from the original updated and incorporated in this fantastic film.  I love Shahrukh Khan in double roles, just love seeing him create two different personas in the same film, from Baazigar to Fan.  This is one of the best, and so delicious to see him in a dark sexy villain role.

7.  Kuch Kuch Hota Hai

Kuch Kuch Hota Hai can be silly, but Karan Johar can just get me right in the gut with his love story triangles (or quadrangles).  This gazebo scene is just so sexy.  That SRKajol magic!  We get SRK/Rani plus a sweet Salman Khan as a bonus.

6. Om Shanti Ohm

I love Farah Khan and her collaborations with Shahrukh.  Main Hoon Na barely missed the cut for this list, but I have to give it up to OSO.  Farah has given us an homage to classic Bollywood film, launched the debut of Deepika Pudakone, and the song sequences are just amazing.  Farah was a choreographer first, and the great music is paramount in this film.  I will love her forever for making SRK the item guy in the sexy Dard-e-Disco.  We won’t talk about how many times I’ve seen the Dard-e-Disco song video.

I saw Om Shanti Ohm early on in my watching of Hindi films, and I don’t know if I recognized anyone except Kajol the first time I watched Deewangi Deewangi.  This song is my yardstick of how far I’ve come in watching Hindi films.  Farah Khan loves allusions to other Hindi films in her movies, and cameos and this is the king of cameo songs.  I didn’t know Dharmendra or why Shahrukh made that hair gesture with the thin guy I now know is Zayed Khan.  These days, I’m so advanced I know the guy playing Shahrukh’s father in the second half is a big Pakistani soap star (And I’ve watched him play Fawad Khan’s father in Zindagi Gulzar Hai)!  OSO is just that much funnier and you just appreciate it so much more knowing filmi background.  I laughed so hard at the Filmfare scene on a subsequent watch with Abhishek being nominated for Dhoom 4 and SRK being nominated for two identical looking romances in the Swiss Alps with sweaters.

5.  My Name Is Khan

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This may have been the first movie I saw with SRK where he wasn’t playing a version of the SRK persona, but was really acting a character.  Shahrukh plays a man with Asperger’s and his relationship  with Kajol in the first half of the film is just wondrous.  The second half of the film is like looking at my  country through a fun house mirror.  The flood scene somewhere in the South where SRK is taken in by an African American family is a little weird, but it’s still a very moving film with a powerful message.

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4. Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham

KKKG feels like the ultimate Bollywood film.  It’s got just about everybody in it!  I’ve shown this movie as a first Hindi movie to friends because it introduces you to all the major players.  I’ve posted just the reunion scene of SRK with Jaya who plays his mother, and without subtitles, I’ve had people demand to know where they could see this film because of the emotion they saw.  This song,  Yeh Ladka Hai Allah, may be my ultimate SRK and Kajol dance and fall in love number ever.  It is just so, so swoony.  Yeh Ladka Hai Allah, indeed.  And the outfit Shahrukh is wearing is so, so gorgeous.

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3. Veer-Zaara

Veer-Zaara is Yash Chopra at his peak.  Lush scenery, beautiful songs, and an interfaith romance that just makes me tear up each and every time I watch it.  My favorite song sequence of Shahrukh’s ever is Main Yahan Hoon from Veer-Zaara.  Oh, my gosh.  The way Priety is trying to forget Shahrukh as her father forces her to become engaged to Manoj, and yet, she sees Shahrukh everywhere.  He haunts her.  And then goes in for her collarbone in the rain and I swoon.  Every. Single. Time.

 

2. Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (Match Made in Heaven) was the second Shahrukh Khan I ever saw, and I watched it right after DDLJ.   This is how new I was to my love of SRK.  I actually paused the movie and looked it up, because I could not believe Raj and Suri were the same actor.  I loved the comedic Raj, but quiet nerdy steadfast Suri stole my heart.  Such a great film.  Aditya Chopra is the master.  I watch this film over and over..  It is my comfort and my solace.  Watching this film cemented my love of Shahrukh Khan forever.

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  1. DDLJ  (Could there be any other?)

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (The Bravehearted Wins the Bride) is the one that started it all.  The first half can be a little silly, reminding me sometimes of a prank filled John Hughes film.  But, oh, man, the second half hits you.  I can’t even really express what watching DDLJ did to me the first time (and every time).  It touched my heart and gave me something I didn’t even know I was missing.  Hollywood rarely makes Rom-Coms anymore, much less musicals.  This film opened my world and gave me the gift that is Indian cinema.  Since I watched DDLJ in the summer of 2014, I’ve watched over 300 Indian films.  Thanks, Shahrukh for making me fall in love!  And Happy Birthday!

 

Song of the Day – Dekho Na

In Chicagoland, we’ve had a miserable week of cold rainy days.  Just relentlessly wet and dreary.  Rain has a much different connotation in Indian films!

Yet another rainy misty day today, and when Dekho Na played today on shuffle, I was thinking, “Hey, I didn’t even get any sexytimes with mullet-hair Aamir after all this rain!”

This song sequence is one of my all time favorites.