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Bride and Prejudice-Movie Review 06/30/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Bollywood, Comedy, Indian language film, Light Drama, Movies, Musical.
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Bride and Prejudice (Indian/English) 2004

Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Starring Aishwarya Rai and Martin Henderson

In this very loose adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Lalita Bakshi (Rai) is one of four daughters; her mother is eager to see them all suitably married. When Lalita meets wealthy American businessman Will Darcy (Henderson), however, it is not love at first sight.

The movie is very funny in parts, and the plot is interspersed with Bollywood-style musical numbers and dances that are very well done. Watch for Naveen Andrews (Sayid from Lost); he is frequently smiling in this film, which took some getting used to, and he even does a break dance. Hey – it’s Bollywood!

Gurinder Chadha also directed Bend It Like Beckham.

107 min. Rated PG-13.


Sita Sings the Blues-Movie Review 02/17/2011

Posted by Films to consider in American, Animated, Indian language film.

Sita Sings the Blues (Indian) 2008
aka “The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told”

Among other wins and nominations:
Winner, Grand Jury Prize-Narrative Feature, Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles
Winner, Crystal Bear-Special Mention, Berlin International Film Festival
Winner, Best Full-Length Film, Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Winner, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, Gotham Awards
Nominated, Someone to Watch Award, Independent Spirit Awards

Directed, written, produced, designed, and animated by Nina Paley

A very unusual retelling of the story of the Hindu goddess Sita from the Indian epic Ramayan, with whimsical animation accompanied by recordings of jazz vocalist Annette Hanshaw made in the 1920s. Somehow Hanshaw’s soulful lyrics perfectly fit what happens in this ancient tale. (Check out the cover of the DVD by clicking below for a sample of the animation style.)

Paley has three narrators explaining and discussing two interwoven versions of the tale, and those in turn are interspersed throughout with a modern-day story of love and heartache (based on Paley’s own life).

The accompanying interview tells about copyright issues surrounding the 1920s recordings by Annette Hanshaw and how Paley found a solution.

82 min. Unrated.


Brick Lane-Movie Review 01/31/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Based on a novel, Bengali/Bangladeshi language film, British, Emotional Drama, Indian language film, Movies, Romance.
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Brick Lane (Indian/Bangladeshi/British) 2007

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Alfred Dunhill Award for New Talent, London Film Festival
Official Selection, Telluride Film Festival; Toronto International Film Festival
Winner, CICAE Award (Gavron), San Sebastian International Film Festival

Directed by Sarah Gavron; based on the novel by Monica Ali
Starring Tannishtha Chatterjee as Nazneen, Christopher Simpson as Karim, and Satish Kaushik as Chanu

In the 1980s, Nazneen, a young Bangladeshi woman, enters into an arranged marriage with Chanu, a staid and traditional older man, and leaves her home and her sister to live in the Brick Lane section of London. Sixteen years later, Chanu wants to move back to Bangladesh for a job, but their two daughters are happy being part of the surrounding culture. Nazneen, meanwhile, has met and fallen in love with Karim, a handsome younger man who is active in local political causes. Although she does not want to marry him, Nazneen comes to realize that she is where she belongs and must tell her husband so.

An intimate look at a woman who finds her own inner strength and makes some tough decisions to live on her own. A beautiful musical score by Jocelyn Pook (I especially loved Adam’s lullaby) adds much to the film.

102 min. Rated PG-13.


Slumdog Millionaire-Movie Review 01/12/2011

Posted by Films to consider in Drama, Indian language film, Movies, Romance.
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Slumdog Millionaire (Indian) 2008

Among many other awards and nominations:
Winner of 8 Academy Awards (nominated for 10) including Best Picture and Best Director
Winner, 7 BAFTA Awards (nominated for 11)
Winner, 4 Golden Globes

Adapted from the novel Q & A by Vikas Swarup
Directed by Danny Boyle and co-directed by Loveleen Tandan
Starring Dev Patel, Anil Kapoor, Freida Pinto, and Madhur Mittal

Jamal Malik (Patel) grew up with his brother Salim (Mittal) in horrendous conditions in the slums of Mumbai. As an adult, Jamil has a chance to reconnect with Latika (Pinto), the girl he always loved, when he appears on the show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Magically, the difficult questions asked by the show’s host (Kapoor) have already been answered through events in Jamal’s life. Suspicions of cheating are aroused, however, and we come to know Jamal’s story through the police interrogation that results.

Despite some very harsh scenes throughout, the film does have a positive ending as well as a joyous dance scene that takes place during the credits.

Along with the many accolades, there has also been a fair amount of criticism regarding the film, mostly concerning its portrayal of India’s poverty and the post-production treatment of the children who played the main characters at younger ages.

120 min. Rated R.


Monsoon Wedding-Movie Review 11/27/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Drama, Emotional Drama, Indian language film, Movies, Musical.
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Monsoon Wedding (Indian) 2001

Among other awards and nominations:
Winner, Best Picture, Golden Lion, Venice International Film Festival; Best Foreign Film-Foreign Language, British Independent Film Awards; Audience Award (Nair), Canberra Short Film Festival
Nominated, Best Foreign Language Film, Golden Globes

Directed by Mira Nair
Starring Nasiruddin Shah; Shefali Chaya; Vasundhara Das (who’s also an Indian pop star); Tillotama Shome; Vijay Raaz

The intertwined stories of three young women in modern-day India reflect their differing backgrounds, experiences, and roles.

Aditi Verma (Das), from a middle-class family in Delhi, is engaged to be married to a young man she doesn’t know; unfortunately, she’s already in love with a married man. Her orphaned close cousin Ria (Chaya) has no marriage prospects; as Aditi’s wedding draws near, however, Ria will have a cathartic experience. Alice (Shome) is in a subservient role as maid to the Verma household; when love unexpectedly appears in her life, she responds in a traditional way.

Alongside these emotional stories, there is much humor, especially in the character of Dubey (Raaz), a bungling wedding planner (and Alice’s suitor). The music and dancing in the movie very naturally ties in with the wedding and the joyful preparations for it. When the monsoon inevitably arrives, it is welcomed as part of the celebration.

A truly touching line comes from Lalit Verma (Shah), head of the household, as he struggles with being a loving father who must make hard decisions: “Sometimes when I look at my children, I feel love which I almost cannot bear.”

115 min. Rated R.


Sholay-Movie Review *** 11/10/2010

Posted by Films to consider in Comedy, Indian language film, Movies, Musical, Thriller.

Sholay (Indian) 1975

A classic Indian film, directed by Ramesh Sippy.
Starring Sanjeev Kumar, Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra, and Amjad Khan.

What starts out seeming to be a lighthearted movie with two fun-loving bad guys, complete with Bollywood style singing and dancing, soon develops into a thrilling story about good versus bad versus incredibly evil.

Jai (Bachchan) and Veeru (Dharmendra) are two thugs who pride themselves on their marksmanship. They are hired by Thakur Baldev Singh (Kumar) to avenge the horrible deeds done to himself and his family by Gabbar Singh (Khan), sadistic leader of a cadre of nasty bandits. The odds of survival in the fight scenes that ensue are unbelievable, but are somehow made believable enough. There are a lot of bad guys, and a lot of bad guys die.

In the midst of the revenge plot, many other subplots take place, including happy love scenes and comical scenes highlighting one or another of the characters.

I loved this movie and can well understand why it is considered a classic. My only complaint is that there are no subtitles for the lyrics; the musical numbers are obviously carrying the plot forward.

204 min. Rated PG. Much violence.