Friday, January 22, 2010


Hindi cinema is such a vast universe that coming up with a hot list for 2009 seemed daunting (it would be even harder to come up with a "Films of the Decade" list, but we still have a couple of months to write that one).

We decided to concentrate on films that we believe would appeal to an international audience. If we were Hindi film "pushers", what would we show uninitiated and non-Indian friends in order to convert them? 

Here is the Hindi Cinema Blog's international pick for Best Hindi 2009 Film Releases:

Quick Gun Murugun: Be it as the first or last course of a filmi meal, 'Quick Gun Murugun' is a delicious satyre of everything a Hindi film virgin imagines Indian films are. Forget the difference between North Indian and South Indian films. The foreign common viewpoint is that Indian cinema is a mix of colours and dance, sprinkled with improbable script turns, action, love stories and a cheesy dialogue here and there. Well... 'Quick Gun Murugun' blends all these prejudices in a shaker and serves them as a clever and quirky cocktail, ensuring surefire entertainment for everyone: Hindi film buffs, Tamil film buffs and complete foreigners to the whole Indian film scene in general. Now that calls for one Masala Dosa with sambhar, I say!

Kurbaan: Do you want a full-fledged Hindi film experience? Despite a couple of loopholes here and there, particularly in the New York scenes, our vote goes to 'Kurbaan' for the beautiful visuals, performances, fabulous soundtrack, plot and climax. We believe it is one of the most honest attempts in mainstream Indian cinema to treat the delicate subject of terrorism and can definitely be considered international class entertainment.

3 Idiots: The year was marked by the undisputable victory at the box office of Rajkumar Hirani's '3 Idiots', which will undoubtedly continue collecting praise well after 2009 is gone and forgotten. Pulsating rhythm, optimism and a humanistic core give this film a high feel-good and entertainment quotient. There is something in it for everyone, whether it is great laughs or soul touching moments. Don't miss it. 

Kaminey: A two-hour ride of unpredictable violence and stirring action, featuring Shahid Kapoor in an extremely convincing double role and Priyanka Chopra looking (praise the lord) as the girl next door and thus finally allowing viewers to concentrate on her acting instead of her looks. Kaminey is what we can call "thinking cinema", with each minute sincerely serving its purpose. Add to that a magnificent soundtrack and... Dhan te nan! You've got hot film material.

Firaaq: Nandita Das paints a disturbing and thought-provoking canvas in 'Firaaq', giving us a fictionalized account based on the Gujarat riots (2002) between Hindus and Muslims. Marvellously well cast, the story entwines the lives of 6 normal people who are affected by the communal violence taking place around them. No rose-coloured glasses are used in this story, despite all the escapism preconceptions that are spread about Hindi films among foreign viewers. A must watch. 

Wake up Sid!: 2009 is the year that had us going back to school with '3 Idiots' and Dharma production's fresh, lively and youthful 'Wake Up Sid!'. Where other movies have failed to bring Ranbir Kapoor's full talent to the fore, this lighthearted film particularly succeeds. Is it the fact that they have cast him alongside a consistently excellent Konkona Sen Sharma? Is it the script? Who knows... but it works! Check out its soundtrack and the final hug scene (sorry guys, couldn't help it). You will come out of the cinema experience smiling, as if you had just received a big hug yourself.

Hopefully, this new year will bring plenty of amazing films, making more and more people abroad realize the international entertainment potential of Hindi films. Now that we have revealed our personal favorites, let us mention some of the films that made it to the 2009 runners-up list. Just in case your friends become as addicted to Hindi cinema as you are and are willing to take their experience a step further:

Luck by Chance (dir. by Zoya Akhtar, starring Farhan Akhtar and Konkona Sen Sharma) Insightful movie about the film industry in India. Mindblowing soundtrack.

Barah Aana (dir. by Raja Menon, starring Naseeruddin Shah, Vijay Raaz and Arjun Mathur) An unconvential view on the reasons behind organized kidnappings.

Videsh (Heaven on Earth): (dir. by Deepa Mehta, starring Preity Zinta) A beautiful Indian bride moves with her husband's family to Canada. She finds her inner self  and her strength when she is confronted to domestic violence and her new family's hostility.

Little Zizou (English language film by Indian film maker Mira Nair) A sweet and fun tale about a Parsi little boy who dreams of meeting football star Zidane.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

An International Take on 3 IDIOTS

3 Idiots is Rajkumar Hirani’s newest directorial venture and has become the biggest grosser in the history of Indian cinema in a matter of days after its release. The 3 members of our international film review team at the Hindi Cinema blog have watched the film in each of their respective locations around the world and are eager to give their take on it to you, our readers. Given that they are known to interrupt each other constantly, they have roped in journalist Woogie McFinklestein, correspondent for “Idiots Weekly Magazine”, to try and collect their opinions in the form of a civilized interview. Let us see if he succeeds.

 Warning: This interview contains spoilers.

What was your reaction upon seeing “3 idiots” for the first time?

Joanna: I had the biggest goofy grin on my face!

Aline: You look like that all the time, Joanna.

Joanna: Well, bigger and goofier! I wanted to immediately walk back up to the box office and buy tickets for the next show.

Pushker: I thought: “Brilliant! Enchanting! Lively! Got to go back again!"

Aline: I wanted to shout "I am an Idiot!" and then tell bystanders: "aal izz well, aal izz well" and take pictures of them all with their astonished faces, advising them to chase excellence and make viruses happy.

Did any part of the story make you cry?

Pushker: I don’t cry! What kind of question is this?

Aline: Pushker, weren’t you crying a minute ago screaming “I don’t want to give an interview!”? We had to pull you through that door…

Pushker: That was not me. That must have been Joanna who has a bad hair day.

Joanna: My hair is fine thank you and says hi!

Pushker: Well, to tell you the truth, my heart skipped a few beats and I got a lump in my throat when Raju's mother visits the hospital in her new sari.

Joanna: Honestly, I didn’t cry the first time I saw the film. However, upon second viewing I also cried during the sari scene and when Virus gifts Rancho his pen (gets weepy). See? I am getting emotional all over again, let me find my handkerchief.

Aline: I cried during several scenes and got goosebumps on Joy’s final scene but was mainly moved by the baby delivery one and entirely wept my way through it...

Joanna: Aline, seriously? You didn’t think it was a bit…filmy?

Aline: To me, if the whole film had not worked for me but there was still this one great scene, I would recommend watching the whole film just for that.

Joanna: (Blows her nose) If Rancho was coming at me with that home-made vacuum contraption, I wouldn’t just cry…I’d scream in horror! (Pushker leaves the room).

What made you laugh?

Aline: So many parts of the film were a riot! Rancho’s first appearance, the exam paper mixup and…

Joanna: I loved the scene where Pia (Kareena) compared the names of Gujarati foods to missiles. "Bush just dropped two Dhoklas on Iraq....." That was a great piece of writing and she delivered it well.

Aline: …the machine definition scene and the urn scene will become classics. So many to choose from! It is an extremely well written script. I was also itching to dance to Zoobi Doobi. Such a fun and sweet depiction!

Joanna: I keep getting interrupted, I wasn’t done with my list of fun scenes.

Aline: You interrupted me first.

Pushker: (back in the room, hands a hairbrush to Joanna) Here Joanna. Better hair means better mood.

Now, do you think Aamir Khan was really able to convince the audience to forget his true age?

Pushker: Age? What age? My wife and both my daughters wouldn’t mind going out on a date with him!

Joanna: They aren't the only ones. (Everyone looks at her.) I mean my don't know her. She lives in Utah.

Aline: Sure, Joanna. We believe you (winks at Pushker.) It was quite something to see Aamir with such an innocent look on his face. Even his voice sounded younger, to such a point that I forgot it was actually him.

Is there one particular scene that…

Joanna: Hey wait, I haven’t answered the question yet!

Well yes, but…

Joanna: Aamir Khan was brilliant. I think a lot of it comes from who he really is at his core. I’m so happy that he still seems to have a deep connection to his inner child.

Fine. So… is there one particular scene that defines the film?

Aline: Apart from all the moments in which Rancho thinks out of the box, which I think was the whole point of the film, I would say the birth scene.

Joanna: Not again! (Leans back against the chair and rolls her eyes.)

Aline: It has all of the power of Rancho's "aal izz well" in it and then... I always marvel at watching a birth, even fictional.

Pushker: That is too sentimental, Aline! I personally feel the scene that made it for me was the “Balatkar” speech. I was falling off my seat with laughter, like the rest of the audience.

Joanna: Silencer! (Laughs)

But guys, for me, it was more of a sequence than a single scene, beginning with the main suicide attempt and ending with a forgiving father. These were to me the crux of the statement that the director was trying to make. It was the lowest of lows, and the highest of highs. What do you think?

Aline: Did he just answer the question for us?

Pushker: It is the “Balatkar” speech yaar, what are you talking about!

Joanna: (upset) Hey Mr. McFinklestein, no offense, but you are here to interview us and now I have no answer because you just took the words right out of my mouth!


Joanna: What sort of an interview is this? I refuse to be a part of it. (storms out of the room.)

(Aline and Pushker shrug)

What other character apart from Rancho stands out in the film?

Pushker and Aline: Chathur!

Aline: And Virus. He was a wonderful creation and it had outstanding work by Boman Irani.

Joanna: (screams from the neighboring room): Rajuuuuu!

Describe the message you took home from "3 Idiots."

Pushker: Much more than a comedy, “3 Idiots” asks questions and gives insight to the basic need of self realization, opening up the human mind and reaching out to the natural instinct of growth.

Aline: How am I ever going to give a better definition than that? This is unfair! (leaves the room, crossing Joanna at the doorway, who was on her way back).

Can you get her (Aline) back here?

Joanna: No. I can’t stand her today.

Pushker: Let her be.

You people keep leaving the room! I am determined to win my challenge of keeping you all together throughout the interview. Go get her! (bangs his fist on the table) Now!

(Pushker leaves his chair and heads to the neighboring room. He reappears grudgingly pulling Aline behind him. Aline is leafing a book).

Aline: I have a quote to summarize the film message! “Give me a smart idiot over a stupid genius any day”!*

Joanna: So which one are you, Aline, stupid or idiot?

Aline: The film also says that we need to fool our hearts to think positive when dealing with difficult situations and people (gives Joanna a dark stare).

Do you want to add anything?

Aline: We all would like to say that Rancho made us think of a grown up Ishaan**… Right guys? And that I found even the background music really good.

Joanna: The film is also very well cast. Everyone including the secondary roles did an excellent job.

Just one last question, how would you rate the film?

Joanna: Ok guys, ready? 1… 2… 3!


It seems as if Woogie McFinklestein has succeeded in making these 3 international idiots remain friends during an entire interview (phew!). Check out the video in which they pay homage to the way 3 Idiots was promoted before its release, featuring an incognito Aamir Khan (Rancho) travelling throughout India. Did these three reviewers and budding investigators manage to find him before the film's premiere? Find out here

* Original phrase by Samuel Goldwyn.

** The name "Ishaan" makes reference to Ishaan Awasthi, the main character of Aamir Khan's acclaimed film ‘Taare Zameen Par’.

Film: 3 Idiots
Director: Rajkumar Hirani
Genre: Comedy
Cast: Aamir Khan, Sharman Joshi, R Madhavan, Kareena Kapoor
Producer: Vidu Vinod Chopra
Duration: 2 hours 50 minutes

Rating: 5*

Buy Music Album from Itunes store
3 Idiots lyrics translations by Ashu