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Saturday night blast from the past: Teen Devian

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The plan was to catch the last show of Australia, but Hugh Jackman, notwithstanding the Sydneysider’s sexiest man of the year accolade, was eventually voted down by the females in the group – in favor of Dev Anand.

This is of course Dev Anand  from way back when – when he was was actually handsome. Handsome enough for the better half and the sister to swoon a few times during the two hours odd playtime, and to be playing a veritable Casanova, the love interest of three competing females.

Not that the sole male member watching the film (from way before any of us were ever born) had much to complain.  The  not-so-sober senses had an enviable troika of beauties to feast upon: a  coquettish Nanda,  and the contemporary progressive female leads played by Kalpana, and a very young and fresh – but  equally sexy and sultry –  Simi Grewal.

Even with the scenes of female helplessness that would make the mildest feminist worth their unburnt bra cringe, not to mention the mild proselytizing about the effects of alcohol, eventually it’s the irrepressible lyrics (by Majrooh) and some of the most melodious tunes composed in history (SD), sung by two of the doyens of playback history (Kishore and Rafi) that makes the film most memorable:

(amongst others)

Not to mention scenes of Kolkata from way back when……..Chowrongee and Howrah Bridge without a crowd !!!!!!

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Written by BongoP'o'ndit

December 13, 2008 at 9:20 am

Pretty Woman and Seinfeld

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With very little to do last night, I ended up watching a TV re-run of Pretty Woman. Of course, the story felt quite corny and contrived compared compared to the experience when I first watched it almost 20 years ago  [1] – although Julia Roberts’ gorgeous and breathtaking looks seemed timeless.

Anyway, watching the movie now, its really tough to imagine Jason Alexander – who plays the slimy lawyer associate of Richard Gere in the movie – as any character other than George Costanza (of Seinfeld, for  those who have been sleeping under rocks for the last two decades). Every time he made an appearance, I would unconsciously expect him to do/say something very George-like – humorous, amoral, and insecure.

But there is at least another small Seinfeld connection with Pretty Woman: in the initial scenes when Julia Roberts is starting to go out and then backtracks as she hears the landlord – the landlord, although seen very briefly, is the same actor who is cast as Kramer in the Seinfeld episodes where George and Seinfeld are making a pilot for NBC.

Also seen in a brief scene – Hank Azaria as a LA police detective.

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[1]: I think it was during the extended summer break after our 10th, and my mom had initially refused to let me watch the film due to the “A” rating – finally had her convinced somehow; another friend never even managed a permission, and bunked some tuition class to watch it with us, while I covered for him. Good old, innocent days 🙂  !.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

September 7, 2008 at 4:37 am

Mendacity…

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..the word has a nice rythmic feel to it. Go ahead – say it aloud: mĕn-dăsĭ-tē.

My favorite word currently; for no reasons deeper than the fact we were re-watching Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Watch this clip:

Powerful acting – they don’t make films like that anymore.

“I could write a book on it (mendacity)”

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 28, 2008 at 7:46 pm

Mamma Mia !

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The musical is fluffy, predictable and borderline chick-flick. The cynical view would be to dismiss it a silly exercise in stringing  together hits of ABBA around the barest of plots.

However, once you get past the initial 20-30 minutes dominated by cheesy teeny-bopper exuberance and  awkward chemistry among the three leading men, the movie lifts itself and there is much fun to be had. Especially with the appearance of Meryl Streep and her two friends, it is tough not to catch the infectious energy of foot-tapping, shoulder swinging numbers like Mamma Mia, Dancing Queen, Voulez-Vous etc.

A word about Meryl Streep: whether dancing around in tight-fitting spandex or  soulfully crooning ‘The winner takes it all….‘ on the backdrop of the Aegean, her performance alone (not surprisingly) is worth the price of admission. Julie Walters and Christine Baranski as her friends are delightfully funny.  P ierce Brosnan can’t sing to save his life, but made it up by a put-on goofiness that indicated he was aware of the lack of singing talent. The most irritating bits were the parts played by the teenagers, but that could just be ageism catching up with me.

So overall, in spite of the occasional tackiness, watching Mamma Mia is not an altogether unpleasant way to spend a Friday evening; especially if you are a  bit liquored up and ready for a relaxing time (and if you happen to be a closet ABBA fan).

However, the best movie to be strung around ABBA songs still remains Muriel’s Wedding.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

July 14, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd & Weekend Cocktail

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Honeymoon Travels

The ensemble comedy about five newly-wed couples on a bus trip to Goa for their honeymoon is actually enjoyable and entertaining in a Friday night chill-out kind of a way. The couples are expectedly represented through diverse groups (in more ways than on simple ethnic lines) – stereotypes abound, but I thought were used in a funny way. The Bong stereotyping, with the diminutive Bangali bhadrolok (Kay Kay Menon) along with his waiting to break-free wife (Raima Sen) actually hit home….as did the some of the issues that couple had to go through.  Kay Kay Menon really excels;  Raima Sen is hot, but can actually act a bit as well. Looks like acting genes skip a generation !

Others include a gregarious Delhi girl (Amisha Patel) who speaks plenty for everyone including her strangely reticent husband; an elderly inter-religious couple played by Bomani Irani and Shabana Azmi; the apparently perfect couple, who are in total synchrony and haven’t had a single fight for sixteen years (Minisha Lamba and Abhay Deol) ; finally, there is a recently returned NRI (Vikram Chatwal) with his, what would be called ‘unhibited’ Indian wife (Sandhya Mridul).

 There are several interesting twists and turns through the film (I wont reveal them, but spoilers abound in various reviews you will find on the net) and the director packs in lots of details, surprising for a Hindi film. But it mainly suffers from a lack of meshing the stories together. Also, at times the humor is lame, and scenes involving post-marriage elopement of one of the brides are pretty tacky (unless it was intended that way to spoof the typical running away from home scenes in Hindi films).

I particularly enjoyed the way each couple’s backstory was introduced by the voiceover of a radio jockey reading out letters on a show, followed up with old Hindi movie songs. I have always maintained that Hindi movies underutilize classic songs from the past (Hollywood does a much). Main Hoon Naa is the only film I can remember that made good situational use of old songs. Several of the original songs in the films are worth checking out too – Halke Halke, Sajnaji Vaari Vaari and Pyar Ki Yeh Kahani (in the film it is pictured on a very well executed Salsa-Tango combo dance between the perfect couple).

Eventually, Honeymoon Travels is one of those films you can decide to like or hate depending on the mind set you sit down to watch with. There is plenty that is wrong, but enough scenes that are worth a chuckle.

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Also, the weekend cocktail recommendation: I forget what this cocktail was named originally, I call it ‘The Bitter Rose‘. As you sip the drink, enjoy the sweet taste with a bittery orange finish.

Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice; shake and strain. Garnish with a twist of orange. You can change the bitter to sweet ratio by varying the Campari and Cointreau depending on taste.

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

March 10, 2007 at 3:37 pm

Final thoughts and Awarding the Awards…..

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The Oscars-nite started tepidly, gained steam with some funny acts, briefly threatened to turn into an Al Gore love-fest (mildly exaggerating here) but then ended with a Hollywood group hug (somewhat literally) for Martin Scorsese. Like I mentioned during my live-blog, it was a steady, but fairly unremarkable show last night.

The biggest news of the night was of course, Martin Scorsese breaking his Oscars jinx and finally laying hand on the statuette. He seemed elated, and relieved (even joked about re-checking the envelope) as he was handed the award by a troika of his peers. Now there are two camps of thoughts on this award. One believes that Scorsese finally got his due, even if for a film that hardly measures up to the greatness of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull or Goodfellas. The other way of looking at it is that he lost membership to an august club that counts Kubrick, Chaplin, Bergman, Hitchcock et al amongst its membership !

Anyhow, here are the high-lows and my own ‘awards’ for the show.

Host Watch: Billy Crystal keeps his mantle of the best Oscar hosts of contemporary times with Ellen Degeneres hardly providing any competition. She was nervous to begin with and plain irritating by the end. And whats with the burgundy velvet jacket and white shoes ?

Best Joke by Host: Slim pickings, but would have to be: ‘Jennifer Hudson was not voted by America and she is here….Al Gore is here, American did vote for him..”

Funniest Moment(s): (1) The Will Ferell & Jack Black duo singing a comic song about how comedians and comedy is usually slighted at the Oscars (which is very true). The song went on, as John C Reilly joined in from the audience, to talk about how the funny guys should take on serious roles (Video here). All that was required was Jim Carrey’s appearance. Possibly the best song performed at the Oscars since Robin Williams sang Blame Canada on-stage.

(2) Al Gore almost declares his intention to run for ’08 Presidential Elections, only to be interrupted by the orchestra.

Jack Nicholson watch: As if the ever-present sneer was not enough, he decided to go ahead and shave his head. Looked pretty darn sinister. Also he was sharing some in-joke with Diane Keaton while presenting the best film – wonder what that was all about.

Surprise, Good: Alan Arkin winning the supporting actor for Little Miss Sunshine. Big fan of the actor and his role in the film.

Surprise, Bad: I have not seen any of the animated features, but everyone I have talked to who have seen both Happy Feet and Cars agree that the latter was more deserving. Another case of the hype created by penguins. Those damn creatures ! Well, global warming will soon take care of them.

Surprise, So-so: Pan Labyrinth not winning the Best Foreign Film. This is a category that often has upsets e.g. when No Man’s Land beat out everyone’s favorite Amelie.

Most Candid Moment: Clint Eastwood getting his lines mixed-up and admitting – ‘I should have just brought my glasses and read..’

Best Presentation: Abigail Bresnil and Jaden Smith.

Most Yawning: Definitely the back-to-back singing of the three Dreamgirls songs.

Moment I could have junked my TV: Celine Dion’s screeching.

Thank You Speeches:

Most Overwrought:
Tie between Jennifer Hudson and Forest Whitaker. Hudson said that God made it all possible while Whitaker put the onus on his heavenly ancestors.

Most Enjoyable:
Helen Mirren, no doubt about it. Class and wit combined.

Honest: “Wow – it is heavy” ….Montse Ribé, winner for Achievement in Make-up (Pan’s Labyrinth).

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And now (drumrolls please), for the most important section: the ‘ladies of the Oscar‘ awards. Initially I had thought about handing out only one to the most gorgeous lady seen on the TV. But there were so many that I decided it would not be fair to all of them. Hence, the following categories:

Best presence on the red carpet: Abigail Breslin.

Most Gorgeous: Penelope Cruz

Sexiest: Not awarded this year

Whoaaa there…: Eve Green and Reese Witherspoon.

Most Elegant: Jodie Foster

Classiest: Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton. No surprises here.

Biased Award for the Best Lady in Veiw(in the tradition of Oscars, given based on personal bias rather than merit): Cameron Diaz ! Sigh !

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And with that ends the 2007 Oscars coverage on Recurring Decimals…. till next year.

Note: you can see selected videos of the Oscar from many of the links in the post – these are also mostly available on my VodPod widget to the right of the

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

February 26, 2007 at 6:41 pm

Scoop

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After a brief shift in style for the compelling drama of Match Point, Woody Allen returns to his recognizable avatar of the confused-stammering-hands flaying-self-deprecating-semi-neurotic but kind-hearted self. In Scoop, he dons the role of a small time, low-brow American magician, Sid Walterman (stage name: Splendini), who gets entangled in a murder investigation with Sondra Pransky (Scarlett Johanssen) – a rather bumbling, but sexually appealing American journalism student (she manages to sleep with a famous British director but fails to get a story) on vacation in London.

As an audience-volunteer inside Splendini’s ‘de-materializing’ box, Sondra gets the tip-off of a lifetime from the ethereal form of a recently deceased famous British journalist: a recent spate of serial killings of short-haired brunette prostitutes, called the ‘Tarot-card Murders’ are apparently being committed by Peter Lyman, son of a wealthy English aristocrat ! However, it would be impossible to implicate such an influential person on such flimsy evidence. Thus aided (with reluctance) by Sid, Sandra ingratiates herself with the charming Peter Lyman (Hugh Jackman – who disappoints in the role) to uncover the truth and obtain a major scoop. Predictably, in the course of the movie, Sandra actually falls in love with Peter and refuses to believe he could be a killer despite mounting evidence (from both real and the netherworld) to the contrary.

Scoop is a light-hearted murder mystery-comedy – meaning neither the mystery is intriguing nor the comedy particularly sharp. But it has its flashes of zany dialogues and one-liners like: ‘I can’t wear contacts – I don’t like touching my eyeballs with my fingers’ or a typical Allenesque : ‘I was born of the Hebrew persuasion, but I converted ……..to Narcissism’ ! Scarlett Johanssen, who played the moody femme fatale role with perfection in Match Point, does adequately as the comically clueless yet determined girl (for the lack of a better adjective, a more Allen-like heroine).  Like Match Point, Allen moves his story to London and the English countryside. Unfortunately, he does not embed London in the narrative like New York, which one can argue, is by itself a character in many of Allen’s works. 

So a Manhattan Murder Mystery this is not – but is certainly superior to Hollywood Ending/Curse of the Jade Scorpion (the abyss of Allens’s career, IMHO) and you will enjoy the film if you, like me, are a dedicated Allen fan. Otherwise, I would urge you to watch some Allen masterpieces before putting this on your Netlix/Blockbuster queue.  

Written by BongoP'o'ndit

January 23, 2007 at 11:20 am