Posted by Sari
Books, dogs, figure skating… what is missing? Bollywood, of course. There have been few movies I have not written about, mainly because I saw them so long a go I don’t really remember much. Chak de India, for example, which as far as I recall was a decent enough sports movie with themes of national unity, women’s self-empowerment and of course King Khan strutting his stuff.
Love and Anarchy festival showed Jodha Akbar, which I had already seen and found pretty but boring, so I skipped that and went to see their other Bollywood import, Billu Barber, which was actually pretty interesting movie. It was a credible effort to fit together a more quiet movie about village life with a huge blockbuster, using a classical Hindu story about Krishna and his friend Sudama as its inspiration. Billu is a poor barber in a small indian village where a famous Bollywood star, Sahir Khan, is coming to shoot his next film. Billu and Sahir are childhood friends and when this news gets out everybody wants suddenly to be friends with Billu. Billu does not first want to impose on Sahir and later can’t get to him, and thus all the village, including his family, turn against him thinking he had been lying about his friendship.
I thought Irfan Khan was excellent as Billu, Om Puri deliciously hilarious as the village big man Daamchand and Lara Dutta was surprisingly soulful as Billu’s wife. Shahrukh is obviously playing himself and the huge totally over the top production numbers with Deepika Padukone, Priyanka Chopra and Kareena Kapoor work surprisingly well as a contrast to the much more realistic rest of the action. The only place where the film really falters is in my opinion at the end where Shahruk/Sahir gets to give his big sentimental speech about his childhood friend Billu. As much as I think he is the cat’s pyjamas, he really hams the scene to the max.
Less of a success was Dus, a indian take on an international terrorist thriller. Abhishek and Zayed Khan are sent to to catch a terrorist collaborator from Canada without the knowledge of canadian officials, while back in India the anti-terrorist organisation tries to find a mole. The movie is full of twists and turns and chases, but the plot is a mess and I just can’t get used to the theatrical way modern indian movies choreograph chases and fights. I have rarely seen Sunil Shetty in a good movie, and only movie Esha Deol has not managed to bring down to her level was Dhoom. So despite a catchy signature tune, this was not a keeper.
Last movie in this set, Dostana is more of a dilemma. On one hand, compared to other hindi movies it depicts homosexuality in a positive light and has some genuinely touching scenes, but on the other it is very slapsticky and full of stereotypes. Dostana – friendship – tells of two expat desis (Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham) in Miami who pretend to be gay so they can sublet a condo with Priyanka Chopra. This of course leads to all kinds of silly misunderstandings, especially when both men fall for Priyanka and try to sabotage each other and Priyanka’s love interest Bobby Deol. The movie constantly underlines the fact that neither of the guys is really gay, the really gay characters are as stereotypical as they come, and the comedy is as usual incredibly broad. The best thing in the movie is Kirron Kher milking her punjabi mommy role for all it is worth. All in all, despite its good intentions, Dostana is still pretty cringeworthy.