Posts Tagged ‘popular hindi cinema’

Ra.One

Ra.One posterIt seemed like a good idea to see Shah Rukh Khan’s latest film to celebrate his birthday.  Now, I knew going in that I wasn’t the right target audience.  This movie was made for boys (whatever their age) who love video games, explosions, comic book violence, and computer special effects.  I was hoping that loving Shah Rukh would be enough to enjoy this film.  It wasn’t.

The movie is about a geeky computer game designer who wants to impress his son, so he creates a super-villain named Ra.One for his new game.  Ra.One is a play on the name Raavan/Ravana from Indian mythology, if you can say it with the right accent.  This bad dude breaks out of the game to become a real menace to London and later Mumbai.  Fortunately, the game designer also creates a super-hero named G.One (a play on the Hindi word for life)  to come to the rescue.  There are lots of keyboards, wires, glowing red and blue components, rubber suits, tattoos, speeding trains, flying cars, crashes, and morphing along the way, which is all fine if you like that sort of thing.

Shah Rukh Khan and Kareena Kapoor in Ra.One

Geeky Shah Rukh with Kareena Kapoor

Shah Rukh Khan spends the first part of the film in a really bad curly wig that makes him look like an Indian Harpo Marx.  He’s so dorky that it’s hard to watch him in these scenes.  Later, he plays G.One with glowing blue eyes, bulging biceps, and skin that looks plastic.  Somewhere in between these personas is the actor that I love and miss.  I wouldn’t mind so much this time around, but Shah Rukh Khan was autistic in his last film (My Name is Khan), and before that he played another awkward type in Rab Ne Bana di Jodi.  It seems Khan has given up playing traditional romantic heroes.  At least he’s also given up playing college students, unlike poor Aamir Khan.  (Sorry, that’s another post.)

Arjun Rampal is billed as the actor playing Ra.One, but he doesn’t look like the actor himself for most of the movie.  Once he does, he looks leaner and meaner than the last time I saw him in a film, and I like him as a super-villain.  I also like young Armaan Verma, who plays the son.  The kid has a lot of hair, but he’s cute and he’s got good chemistry with Shah Rukh Khan.  I do have to criticize the script for having the son play practical jokes on the fat kid in his class.  It would have been nice to see a film aimed at a young audience move beyond the usual stereotypes.

There are a couple of times when Ra.One is unnecessarily violent in a non-comic book way.  A motorcyclist in a chase sequence doesn’t need to go splat against the front of a bus, and Ra.One doesn’t need to dispatch the old Chinese woman in a brutal way.  It would have been much more interesting and funny to see her get the best of Ra.One instead.

Ra.One dance number with Shah Rukh Khan

Ra.One has a couple of song and dance numbers.  They are catchy and upbeat, but I’m just not a fan of the current blend of hindi and hip-hop.  During the closing credits, there is a dance number with Shah Rukh Khan that includes interesting behind-the-scenes footage of the making of the movie.  I can see that the DVD will have a lot of cool extras.

Ra.One with Shah Rukh Khan

Since Ra.One opened five days ago, it has apparently broken some international box office records for Indian films.  I say apparently because nobody really agrees on these figures until much later.  Ra.One is one of the most expensive films made in India, so further debates will go on about the film breaking even and making a profit.  So, Ra.One may be a box office hit, but it was a miss with me.  At least Don 2 is coming out at Christmas.  It will probably be ridiculously violent, but I can assume that Shah Rukh Khan won’t be wearing bad wigs or blue contacts.  Right?

Shah Rukh Khan with blue eyes in Ra.One

Update: Oh, dear.  I just found out that this is Shah Rukh Khan’s look for Don 2:

Shah Rukh Khan in Don 2

At least this look isn’t for the whole film!  Here’s a trailer with English subtitles.

Happy Birthday, Shah Rukh Khan!

Today is Shah Rukh Khan’s 46th birthday.  He’s one of the most popular actors in the world.  India’s popular Hindi cinema, based in Mumbai and often referred to as “Bollywood,” has a huge worldwide audience.  I’ve been a fan since 2003, when I saw the stage musical Bombay Dreams in London.  I’d never seen a “Bollywood” film, but as soon as I started watching, I got hooked.  Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan quickly became my favorite actors.

I’m most fond of the films made between 1994 and 2004.  If my interest has declined, it’s because my favorites have been making fewer films, and the films coming out of Mumbai have become too much like Hollywood films.  The films used to be over three hours with an intermission, with the first half being more comic, the second half more tragic.  The lovers never kissed on the lips but instead danced in the rain (the “wet sari” number) and were far more sensual.  Now the films are shorter, the characters are (gasp!) kissing and having premarital sex, and often the songs are in English.

It’s hard to explain the appeal of Shah Rukh Khan.  He’s not traditionally handsome; he’s got a big nose, uneven teeth, and thick lips.  He’s not considered the best dancer, but he’s far from being the worst.  I’d still rather watch him dance than anybody else.  He doesn’t do his own singing, but that’s normal for these popular musicals.  Many playback singers are famous and stars in their own right.  I didn’t really start loving Shah Rukh until I got to see one of his films in a proper cinema.  He can be too big for a television screen, especially in his older movies.  All I can say is Shah Rukh is greater than the sum of his parts, and the man has energy and charisma.  I love to watch him cry, which is a good thing, because these films have a lot of tears!

In honor of Shah Rukh’s birthday, here are some images from one of his best films, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, which translates roughly as “Sometimes Happiness, Sometimes Sadness.”  Shah Rukh stars with Kajol, my favorite female and favorite Shah Rukh partner.  Enjoy!

K3G Shah Rukh Khan

K3G Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol

K3G Kajol and Shah Rukh Khan

K3G: Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol

K3G: Shah Rukh Khan

K3G: Shah Rukh Khan and Jaya Bachchan

K3G: Shah Rukh Khan

K3G: Shah Rukh Khan

K3G: Shah Rukh Khan

An Invitation to the Ball

I have some really great friends, but lately I’ve been driving them to distraction talking about my passions.  Which they don’t always share.   So I’ve started blogging.  It seems like a good way to make new friends and reach out to old ones.

I love movies.  All kinds of movies.  Silent cinema, independent film, British films, popular Hindi cinema, big budget blockbusters, foreign language films–I love them all.  Lately, the films that have touched me, that ones that I like the best, are the ones that have “heart.”  That’s really vague, I know.  It’s hard to describe but hopefully easy to understand.  It’s not the quite same as “feel-good,” because some of the films I love have sad endings. 

Films that I’ve watched recently that I love:

  • Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont
  • In The Loop
  • In a Day
  • Heartlands
  • The Best of Youth
  • Up
  • (500) Days of Summer

I am currently obsessed with two British actors, Michael Sheen and Matthew Goode.  I think Michael Sheen is a brilliant actor.  Matthew Goode is simply hot.  There will be a lot more about these two and their work, coming soon.

%d bloggers like this: