Sunday, July 12, 2009

Bollywood Fever in Bangkok! My DVD Stash 2009 - Part 1

Last April, after completing a month-long trip all over Myanmar, I settled down and relished in the urbanity and cosmopolitan veneer of Bangkok and frolicked in the waters of Phuket. Before flying back to Manila, I visited a favorite DVD shop in the back alleys of Rajprarop Road in Pratunam. They have an enviable collection of Indian movies; I was salivating 10 minutes into my “shopping”! To my utter pleasure, very new Bollywood hits like Ghajini and Dostana (“Friendship”) which I’ve seen in Hyderabad were already out! I have been setting my sight on Shahant Shah’s Dasvidaniya, one of those really great films that hasn’t found an audience back home (in India). I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it on their shelf; I practically felt my ears flapping with joy. I never imagined I’d be able to get a copy in good ole Bangkok.

As I made my way through shelves of DVDs,
I was lost in the presence of an immense collection. A guy in turban was pleased with my wonderment. He was probably thinking, what a weird Filipino guy! Haha. I was like a child finding myself in a huge toy shop. I ended buying 30 titles! Most of them are Bollywood fares, but there should be a few Kollywood/Tollywood fares too. I’m not sure. I must have bought almost 60 DVDs from my March-April trip, including 10 Burmese (Myanmar) films. Sometimes I just get crazy.

In this post, we shall feature some of these titles. This is the Eye in the Sky.

13B (2009)

Fear has a new address. A blurb like that already promises a crackling thriller. Manohar (actor Madhavan) was enjoying his life after moving into new apartment. But little did he know that the apartment
13B has frightening secrets to share..., and they unfold in the strangest way, a new television soap serial. Will he be too late to save his family from what the television is foretelling? 13B was entirely filmed in a set in Egmore in Chennai, one of the 2 major backpacker areas in the city. This is obviously a Kollywood film (as opposed to Bollywood). Correct me if I am wrong.

Dasvidaniya (2008)
Hollywood has “
The Bucket List”. Manila has Chris Martinez’s “100”. India has “Dasvidaniya”.

The film revolves around the 10 wishlist of Amar Kaul (Vinay Pathak) and the interesting way he procures his lilly dreams 3 months before his
death sentence. Life consists not of holding good cards, but in playing those you hold well.

Sorry Bhai! (2008)
A shy young scientist travels to Mauritius for his elder brother's wedding, but as he meets the bride, he falls for her. Though we’ve seen several films in this vein in Hollywood, in Indian society, this topic is a bit of a taboo, and a good number frowns upon such practice – or storyline. In this movie, director Onir takes the road less taken.

A Wednesday (2008)

A man calls up the Mumbai police, and tells them he has placed five different bombs in the city -- all set to go off anytime... I mean, this was released last year and would have been “too timely” for what eventually transpired last November at the Mumbai attacks.

Little Zizou (2009)

Little Zizou prides itself in being presented by Indian master director Mira Nair. Having said that, it can’t be bad, right? This is a rambunctious dramedy about two battling Mumbai families. At the center of the story is Xerxes, a football-mad 11-year old Parsi boy whose wish is that his sports god, Zidane visits Mumbai.

Yuva (2004, below)

Michael, Arjun and Lallan, three men from three different stratas of society, cross paths one morning in Calcutta as a freak accident at the famous Howrah Bridge brings them together. Dostana’s Abhishek Bachchan (hubby of superstar Aishwaria Rai, "Bride & Prejudice") co-stars and actually won best supporting honors from Filmfare Awards. Slumdog Millionaire’s AR Rahman ("Jai Ho") scores its music.

EK – The Power of One (2009)

Nandu (Bobby Deol), an orphan turned contract killer, is framed for the murder of a famous politician. Then the chase begins. Dostana’s fourth wheel, Bobby Deol finally struts his stuff as lead star in this action-filled movie, one that was personally recommended by the guy who patiently waited for me at the shop. “Really good,” he said.

Ghajini (2008)

Ghajini is a high profile movie with publicity that runs much like Dostana's, focusing on the
state of nudity of its male star. This action drama thriller stars one of the 3 Khan superstars of India, Aamir Khan, who plays a wealthy semi-crazed recluse who is piecing his memory together through the tattoos on his body and photographs on his desk. The film swept all the major prices at the Filmfare Awards including Khan’s Best Actor and, once again, AR Rahman, for his music. The film is also a box office royalty, grossing $2 million a month after its December 25 opening! A real blockbuster, alongside the sex comedy “Dostana.”

Barah Aana (2009)

Barah Aana is a comedy set in modern-day Mumbai. The story revolves around three unlikely friends: a driver (Shukla), a watchman (Yadav), and a waiter (Aman). The driver is an older man, stoic but dependable. The watchman, in his 30s, is a pushover at work but otherwise mischievous. The waiter is a young, swaggering chap, brimming with ambition. Living together, their differing attitudes spark playful banter. On board this film is London-born
Arjun Mathur as the charming waiter. Unlike most Bollywood films, this flick runs for a mere 97 minutes. In Bollywood, anything under 3 hours is not the norm.

Raaz: The Mystery Continues (2009)

A beautiful lady turns up in an architect's masterpiece. He soon finds the real woman behind the image… and all is not as it seems.

Fanaa (2006)

Zooni, a blind Kashmiri girl, meets Rehan Qadri, a local tour guide and an incorrigible flirt, who goes from city to city exploring their architecture--and also their women. Superstar
Aamir Khan of Ghajini” stars in this bad boy-meets-beautiful-blind girl romance.

Luck By Chance (2009)

A struggling actor comes from Delhi to Bombay and enters the Hindi film industry. There’s one name here that will make any Bollywood fare watchable –
Superstar Hrithik Roshan! If you love dances in movies, then you should watch how this Bollywood superstar dances – or you’ve never seen real dancing yet! By the way, where is Hrithik? He is hardly making any movies these days, which is sad. Hrithik Roshan eventually won best actor for his only movie in 2008 at the Indian Academy, held in Macau early this year.

Freeze – Aa Dekhen Zara (2009)

A photographer (Ray) has nothing going for him, until he inherits a camera from his grandfather. This changes his life in a way that he could not have ever imagined in his wildest dreams.

Dostana (2008)

Kunal and Sameer, two straight guys who pretend to be a gay couple to secure a posh Miami apartment, but both of them fall for their gorgeous room-mate Neha (Priyanka Chopra). Hilarity ensures as they strive to convince one and all they are gay! This is the movie that made
John Abraham India’s poster boy, ultimately landing him in Entertainment Tonight’s one of the world’s sexiest men, alongside our Dingdong Dantes. The movie also stars India's it-girl, Priyanka Chopra and Abhishek Bachchan. I saw this movie in Hyderabad and was aware of its mass popularity, one of India’s biggest blockbusters for the year 2008 and even 2009 (since it was released November 14).

Tahaan: A Boy With A Grenade (2008)

Tahaan is a heartwarming story of the friendship between a young Kashmiri boy and donkey. It’s the story of a difficult journey the boy is willing to undertake to bring back his donkey, which has been separated from him. It’s a story set in modern day

Meerabai Not Out (2008)

The movie narrates the story of a cricket enthusiast who goes to the extremes -- even on the day of her engagement -- to watch a game of cricket.

Hello (2008)

One night, we follow life at a
call center. This stars the 3rd Khan Superstar, Salman Khan, Bollywood’s bad boy. Khan is India’s Robin Padilla back in the days when Padilla couldn’t shake off trouble wherever he goes.

Billu Barber (2009)

Billu barely makes a living as a barber, but life is hard that his children are on the verge of being expelled from school due to non-payment of fees. When Bollywood actor Sahir Khan suddenly comes to town, rumors spread that Billu is Sahir's close friend, and he becomes a celebrity overnight. India’s
Christopher de Leon, Shahrukh Khan stars in this crowd pleaser. This was also shown in a Yangon cinema recently.

Heroes (2008)

"Heroes" is based on a theme borrowed from "
The Motorcycle Diaries", where two friends take to the road and their experiences in the journey change their outlook towards life.

Rab Ne Bana di Jodi (2008) aka A Couple Made in Heaven

A middle-aged man who has lost his love for life recovers it through the love of a vivacious young girl. Once again, superstar Shahrukh Khan shows why he is respected as an actor and is well loved as a celebrity. After all, he is Devdas’ tragic hero, isn’t he? Swept categories at the Fanfare Awards including Khan’s Best Actor of 2008. Film also grossed over $2 million 2 months after its opening.

8x10 Tasveer (2009)

8 X 10 revolves around Jai, a man who has the power to see into the past. He uses this power to help people even though using it nearly kills him every time. They filmed in Calgary.

Victory – From Ashes to Glory (2009)

India’s great love for cricket is spotlighted in this pseudo-docudrama, employing real-life cricketers in the narrative about a young man who overcomes adversities and triumphs in the field.

Coffee House (2009)

A coffee house is the meeting point for a motley group: crotchety old men lamenting the state of the nation, a crooked threesome bent on eradicating corruption through mostly foul means, a troubled live-in couple, and a husband-and-wife duo who tries to get into the thick of things. A review by
Nikhat Kazmi has this to say about this movie: “It’s a small, unostentatious, yet meaningful film about dreaming big, seeking change and making a difference.”

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