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.