and the rotten-sabzi award for subtitles goes to….

F.A.L.T.U  this year. I was just watching this movie, which is based on the ridiculous premise that you can build your own college in two days, if you want to. All it takes is five people and a bucket of paint. I mean, I can understand where this movie is coming from. In India in order to get admission to a good college you need to have stellar grades and everything below goes back to farming… or what.

I enjoyed seeing a movie being made for all those kids who didn’t make the cut and get probably suicidal over it.  Life isn’t over if you don’t get accepted into a good school.  As a matter of fact, it can make you stronger. That’s the message of the movie and it’s a bloody good one.  But if you have to rely on subtitles, like I do, then this movie becomes a laugh-fest. So, I am URGING the Bollywood movie industry to work on their subtitles when they export their movies to foreign lands. Please, please.. Have Mercy!!!

Subtitles have been a constant source of sorrow (and amusement) ever since I started watching Bollywood movies. Heck, I even started painfully to learn Hindi on my own, just to be less reliant on the art of bad translation. Unfortunately people talk so fast in movies that with my knowledge of hello and goodbye, what time is it, which way is it to the airport? I can’t follow a thing!! except for picking up individual words like dil, pyar referring to heart and emotion and dhanyavad,  I still cling to every subtitle syllable.

Now. I got used to the bad quality of these subtitles and it’s over-ridden by my unstoppable passion for Bollywood but when I take my American friends to get a taste of Indian movies I sometimes crouch deep down into my seat out of embarrassment.  How can an industry spend so much money on a movie and come up short with something so minuscule as getting subtitles straightened out…

Here is another thing:  Trailers aren’t subtitled. Ever.  People who don’t know Hindi have no clue what the movie is all about and are tapping in the dark until they go and actually see it, which they might not –  in the fear that there may not be any subtitles… :-) This is what happened to me when I went for the first time to the theater. I asked the manager if the movie had subtitles because the trailer didn’t have any…

The next big bang in Bollywood: Don2

This is my first post on wordpress. My first blog entry. Ever. I am writing for the Bollywood novice. For those who have wondered what Bollywood is all about.  Which is Indian movies made in Mumbai, formerly and even today affectionately  Bombay. They could have named their movie industry Bo-Hollywood. But I am glad they didn’t.

Ok, quick intro. My infatuation with Bollywood movies started six years ago, when I picked blindly a movie from the DVD section of my library, just out of curiosity, after I had read an article in the NYT about BW. The movie was called  “Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”  (  )   the longest running movie in India to date, together with “Sholay“.  It’s still playing at full occupancy somewhere in Mumbai, I heard.  And it starred the one & only Shah Rukh Khan… hardly a name then.  It established one of the most intriguing movie couples: Shah Rukh and Kajol. DDLJ made them instant stars. Get used to abbreviations. And don’t expect me to translate the titles.

December 23rd will probably unleash a storm in India. Shah Rukh, or short SRK,  her most beloved movie star,  will hit the dance-floor.  quite literally. Tickets will be sold out for the next few weeks. I am glad I live on Long Island (even if I wish myself back in India, the colorful, the exotic, the wild cat, where you expect the unexpected on a daily basis) .  Unlike in India, here on Long Island tickets will be probably available on the first weekend.  There will be nevertheless long lines though  for “Don 2“, so be prepared.  Indians arrive at the theaters with their entire clans in tow, aunties, grandpa, babies who won’t stop crying throughout the movie…people talking on their cellphones, streaming in and out of the theater at any given time. That’s all part of it. My secret Bollywood life.  Sometimes, most of the times, I am the only white customer. People stare at me as the anomaly, some with a smirk. Some not so friendly. White woman encroaching on their territory. Not so good. Not so good. Is she married to an Indian? Why isn’t her husband there then? so I get the looks. It’s the price I pay for passion.

Let’s move forward to Don 2, as you may have guessed it the sequel to Don 1, which I happened to enjoy a lot.  Rent if if you can. check it out.  The trailer  of the new Don is blazing.

It also stars the supremely beautiful and talented Priyanka.  (and in a smaller role most handsome Kunal Kapoor, unfortunately underrepresented in BW. Probably because he dwarfs everyone else. He’s tall.  Here is a link to a movie review. Maybe it will convince you to take a chance and watch your first Bollywood flick:

I have high hopes for Don 2. It promises to be action-packed, highly polished and glam.  Follow it on Twitter:!/OfficialDon2  and if you look the 9 accounts it’s following, you got all the twitter links to its stars.  All the big guys in Bollywood are on twitter.  It’s a family business. :-)

Oh, I forgot. If you are turned off by the thought of song and dance sequences in Bollywood movies, don’t fret. Everyone falls in love with them. Sooner or later. It’s bound to happen. And like every self-respecting Indian, you will remember the movies by their alluring soundtracks. That’s just how it goes.

Here is a separate review by  the esteemed Aseem Chhabra,  director of the New York Indian Film Festival and movie critic  (who you can follow on twitter @chhabs )

Review: Don 2 has no edge-of-the-seat moments

A scene from Don 2For an action film with the central plot setting us up for a robbery inside a major bank, Don 2′s pacing is very slow, writes Aseem Chhabra.

In his new film Don 2 director Farhan Akhtar [ Images ] takes his time introducing us to his lead, played by Shahrukh Khan [ Images ]. We get a whiff of Khan, a slight sense of his presence, with close shots and shaky hand held camera. There we see his arm, part of his unshaven face, his dark glasses. As he travels up a meandering river in Thailand, we notice Khan’s rather odd looking long hair (a wig, of course), with dreadlocks. And there is cigarette smoke rolling around his face in slow motion. It is all very sexy and so cool!

Through most of the film Khan is very cool. He often has a twinkle in his eye, a slight mischievous smile, as he speaks dialogues like “Touché” and “Kya karen sweetheart, we are everywhere” (in response to Lara Dutta’s [ Images ] startled look on hearing that an Indian is a vice president of a major German bank). Then there are the Don-isms (Don Says) where he speaks in third person spouting statements like “Don ko pakadna mushqil hee nahih, namumkin hai,” and “Don apne doston ka haal puche na puche, apne dushmon ki khabar hamesha rakhta hai.”

He walks with a swagger, whether in a Malaysian prison wearing an orange jump suit, or on the dance floor with Dutta. There is a rhythm in his body, as he sways his shoulders and his arms walking up in the Zara Dil Ko Thaam Lo song sequence.

And then how can one forget when Khan strikes the ultimate pose — the camera captures him at an angle, as he slightly tilts his back, with his arms open sideways. It is King Khan’s [ Images ] signature attempt to remind us that he is the master of the universe. At least his fans believe that.

A lot of Akhtar’s new film is full of such cool elements with sequences set in sumptuous foreign locations — the French Riviera, the jungles of Thailand, Kuala Lumpur, Zurich and finally Berlin. Don 2 is beautifully shot, well lit and has a very clean look, whether on the streets of Berlin or inside the studio, thanks to Akhtar’s terrific cinematographer Jason West.

But then, as with many good intentioned, and technically well crafted Bollywood films, Don 2, fails in the key test. Akhtar is definitely one of the smartest filmmakers in Bollywood, but this time he presents us a story, plot and script that is dull, almost boring. When we are not seeing Khan’s swagger, or hearing the hip upbeat background score by Shankar Ehsaan Loy [ Images ], Don 2 starts to lose steam.

Part of the problem is that despite its action segments, Don 2 is also a Bollywood film and so romance has to be a part of the plot. Towards the end of the film while bullets are flying everywhere, there is an unexpected, almost forced and laughable romantic moment between Khan and his co-star Priyanka Chopra [ Images ]. Everything pauses for the stars to look into each other eyes.

For an action film with the central plot setting us up for a robbery inside a major bank, the film’s pacing is very slow. Coupled with that, the script explains everything to us step-by-step. And if anyone was paying attention, following the convoluted plot where Don always manages to sweet charm the morons at Interpol, in the last five minutes Akhtar sums up the film with a quick recap, revealing many more details that were never shown to us before. It is an old fashioned gimmick to make the audience say “Wow, we were fooled!”

For a suspense thriller, Don 2 has no edge-of-the-seat moments, despite a decent car chase sequence and a scene when Don jumps off a tall building in Berlin. One big problem is the timing of Don 2′s release. Akhtar and his producing partner Ritesh Sidhwani (Khan and his wife Gauri are also listed as producers of the film) chose to release the film during Christmas weekend. It is too bad that just a week before that, Tom Cruise [ Images ] released his mega-budget action film of the season Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (MI4). It is may be wrong to compare the two films, but watching MI4, I had to remind myself to breathe. As I sat through Don 2 — a wannabe MI4, I was breathing too heavily, frustrated at the slow moving film.

Khan’s charming presence aside, Don 2 is packed with uninspired performances by a large supporting cast. First in the line-up is Chopra as Roma, an Interpol officer located in Kuala Lumpur. She is attractive looking, with her big pouting lips, but most of the time Chopra acts like a school girl putting her hands on her forehead in exasperation saying “Damn it,” or a character out of an Enid Blyton book, collecting clues to solve the Mystery of the Missing Don!

Om Puri [ Images ], who once was one of the finest actors in India [ Images ], is such a caricature here. He looks tired as Vishal Malik, Chopra’s boss at Interpol. Despite his very Leslie Nielsen appearance, he sounds positively silly, saying dialogues with his heavy throaty voice — “It’s over Don,” or simply “It’s Don” (as he answers a cell phone.)

Boman Irani [ Images ] tries hard to look menacing, and he does partially succeed. Kunal Kapoor [ Images ] appears in the second half of the film as a computer hacker, but he is so sweet and good natured, and has a lovely pregnant German girlfriend. We know that nothing bad will happen to Kapoor’s Sameer. Don may be a negative character, but Khan is a Bollywood star. He has to have a heart of gold and he cannot do bad things to good people.

Here is the Imdb link:

On Long Island Don 2 will be playing probably  in just  these  two movie theaters:

Farmingdale Multiplex

Big Cinemas “Bombay Theater” in Flushing