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Maa Nanna Chiranjeevi (2010)
Sweet Family Movie
A father, whose shortened name is the same as one of the biggest heroes of Telugu cinema, struggles to pay for his son's education having moved to the big city. He has a terrible time finding work, and is struggling to keep them fed and housed. The school gives him one month to come up with 300,000 rupees (about 6,000 US dollars) to pay for his son's fees. To keep up face before his son, and to keep the son from being frightened he tells the boy that he is working for the C.I.D. (much like the F.B.I.) This is full of very tender scenes between father and son, and fairly realistic scenes of a dedicated man on the street looking for a way to raise what is for him a massive amount of money. Jagupathi Babu does a great job as the father, and Alutit is quite good as the son. While the mother is a stereotypical bad wife, who squanders her husband's land and fortune and then ditches him and tries to take the boy as well, she has only a minor role to play in the story as a whole. There are nods to the stereotypical Telugu movie format, but on the whole this is a refreshing look at relationships and life on the underside of the big city. This movie does not attempt to tamper with the stereotypical presumption that in the final analysis, good people with a drive to work will succeed, though it shows accurately many of the pitfalls along the way.
Fruit & Nut (2009)
Depressingly Bad Farce
I love Indian movies, Bollywood, parallel cinema, and regional. It takes a lot for me to give only one star. Jolly Maker (Cyrus Broacha) trips and stumbles his way through life, leaving a trail of chaos and wreckage in his wake of which he is only barely aware. He is so clueless that he can have an entire conversation with a person who is bound and gagged and not have it cross his mind that they might want help. This is mildly funny for about 15 minutes, and after that gets irritating. The villains of the piece are wacky and never remotely believable. They are reminiscent of villains from the Batman TV show. Probably this is meant as a spoof of all bad silly kidnapping/evil villain shows, but I did not find myself able to read it as something that was "so bad it's good." Instead, it was merely so bad it was bad. Really really bad.
Recommend the Hindi Version
While I saw this movie in America, I am pretty sure that I saw the Hindi version, 130 minutes long, and complete with a census certificate, an "intermission," one dance number, and missing any scene in which Barbara Mori is topless. From various reviews, I am glad that this is the version that I saw.
Overall, the movie is relatively mindless entertainment, a romantic action movie of the sort to which I am not normally attracted. It did not produce an impact which I expect to last a lifetime or leave me with a message at affects my spirit. It is far from the best movie I have ever seen. It was also far from the worst. The Hindi version attempted the Bollywood/Hollywood crossover in interesting ways. The one dance number was edited in a fashion that felt right for an American audience. The songs were left in as background music while the action of the movie advanced. The average American audience is probably not ready for a movie that is about 1/3 English, 1/3 Hindi and 1/3 Spanish, but it's too bad. The resulting mix felt good.
I am reading some reviews of the international version which suggest that the movie is disjointed, and I wonder whether the charm and continuity which I find in the Hindi version, and delightful moments like the gentle but transformed nod to the traditional rain scene, and a brief interlude when Hrithik courts Barbara by making shadow puppets with her, were all left on the cutting room floor in an effort to produce a product which offers nothing more than an American action movie.
This is not a "must see" unless you follow Indian movies. But if you are looking for a way to spend two hours enjoyably, you could do a lot worse.
Everything Old is New Again
When this was released, it was already dated, with scenes that had been shot 8 years earlier. However, for viewers now, we are watching old films anyway. Consider (as many reviewers have said, that it would have been a hit if released earlier. What does it matter now that it was released in 2000 instead of 1993 or 4?
A stronger story than I expected. If the IMDb synopsis of Indecent Proposal is correct, this is much more than a remake of that movie, because the moral twist of an Indian version pervades the film in ways that make it far more interesting. And for folks who can't believe that a woman like the heroine could fall for a dumpy looking Rishi Kapoor, I submit that women do not always go for money or good looks. From time to time we are attracted by character and personality in ways that neither money nor hot looks can conquer.
Worth looking at.
Kambakkht Ishq (2009)
Extremely silly but still enjoyable
Don't go expecting a great movie, it's not.
But it is also not "the worst of the worst" etc. It is uneven. There are jokes that might appeal to a 13 year old that are dreadfully stale and in poor taste for adults. The scriptwriter's sense of how a person becomes a doctor in the US is bizarre. I don't know if this matches Indian practice in some way but it certainly doesn't represent even a nodding acquaintance with the American hospital scene.
The situations and language will not shock anyone used to US films, though they are probably fairly shocking for Bollywood, and I do not know to what extent the subtitles represented a taming of the language in Hindi. Someone complained about nudity--I don't count presumed nudity under sheets as nudity.
That said, there are some nice moments, and a great sense of energy throughout. If you have high tolerance for silliness, this is fun. My husband who is not a Bollywood fan, enjoyed it.