Monday, March 10, 2008

Jab we met finally

So I finally got down to watching Jab We Met after cursing the people who put up absolutely fake TV guides for the desi channels which end up thoroughly confusing my DVR. And since much has been written about it, how about talking about that performance that snagged the Filmfare Award?

In the first act of the film Kareena plays a gregarious, loqacious, large-hearted, bonehead. This characterization also spills across to the rest of her surdi family - which remained a constant source of amusement for me in the film. Portray a community as fun-loving and its amazing how clueless you can show them to be and get away with it all (Kal Ho Na Ho, anyone?).

Its not that I don't know Punjabis who are ready to break out the belly dancing at any excuse, but I know a larger amount who'll nurse a diet Pepsi and engage in an incisive discussion of the psychosocial aftermath of the Golden Temple invasion. But try showing one of the latter in a Bollywood flick and all hell will break loose.

Anyway, on to Kareena. Its important to describe this character because anyone who's seen Kareena in Mujhse Dosti Karoge will tell you that she was born to play roles like these. Firmly ensconced in her comfort zone, Kareena proceeds to deliver an infectious performance - probably making legions of girls wish they were her and an equal number of boys wish they were with her. Great so far, but not much of a stretch (not that you should hold that against an actor but remember Marion Cotillard in La Vie En Rose and what she snagged? I'm just saying)

In the later half, where Kareena is required to play against type, she changes her body language, moves with deliberation, looks down a lot and above all looks wistful. She gets a helpful boost through a montage, played against Ustad Rashid Khan's soulful "Aaoge Jab Tum", that helps her breeze through some heavyweight scenes required to set up her second act. And she follows through with some well modulated acting. In particular, she delivers one terrific scene when she voices her desperation to Shahid in a hotel room. (This after Shahid has just rescued her from a life as a working woman in a hostel - the chosen Bollywood destination for hopeless women who can't get hitched.)

Its an enjoyable performance and Kareena's ability here to own the movie by projecting a huge presence might be an indication of a Madhuri Dixit-like career arc.

And much as I had fun watching Jab We Met I'd like to nitpick this with director Imtiaz Ali. Boss, what kind a director these days can't film a green screen scene properly? And what kind of a director is so lazy that he won't lug a camera in the dark and take some shots of a train zipping through the night instead of relying on Mithun Chakraborthy-style special effects as substitutes? Not one who aspires to be Bollywood's next hot property.

Also:

57 comments:

Sania said...

[Punjabis] who'll nurse a diet Pepsi and engage in an incisive discussion of the psychosocial aftermath of the Golden Temple invasion = me.

Can't dance a lick.

And then there's Megan ;-) (j/k!)

I'm like the only person who has seen this movie and not noticed the toy trains until they were pointed out to me. But I loved it - if I weren't hyped up on pseudoephedrine, I would probably have more coherent thoughts about it. Stay tuned..?

Aspi said...

Quick, do a review of some Bollywood movie while you are still hyped :)

sidekick said...

nah, sania: i didn't see the toy trains either nor did i notice the less than green fields, but then that's why we have Aspi ;). Aspi - nice caps, as usual!

I really enjoyed this movie --- a whole lot more than OSO. To me the real hero was imtiaz's dialogues which were refreshingly funny and struck an easy chord. I'm probably in the minority that wasn't blown away by the kareena show. i thought she was much too shrill as the amped up sikhni and in an Indian multiplex with the volume at full blast my eardrums protested! She was good as the dispirited loser in love, but it was hardly a tour the force - the reason she is currently bollywood's critical and popular darling and its ruling queen. But I agree with Aspi --this is her jonar, so in some ways she strikes me as being something of a one-note actress.

Shahid, I thought was very good --- this was the first movie I'd seen him in --- and played the straight man to kareena really well. She had the best lines and yet he stole a march over her. The opening of the second half where he becomes geet-like was cringe worthy for a bit. not sure why a natural writer like imtiaz felt he had to beat us over the head with that. But it gets better once he establishes the changed Aditya. The sound track was my fave of the year, so that helped a great deal.

Amrita said...

Aspi - you pretty much hit everything on the head so I'll just laugh at that last screencap with the do re mi - hee hee hee! And the toy train was substandard even by Mithun standards. Ramsay bros is more like it.

Sidekick - snap! this was my fave soundtrack of last year too! And it's the rare Pritam soundtrack that wasnt copied wholesale - well, he flicked a bit of Yeh Ishq Hai but he acknowledged it.

m said...

i didn't rly like the movie, i thought it was a bit overrated.. i thought kareena's performance was overrated as well..and i used to be her fan

anu g said...

Aspi,great captions:). I think I enjoyed the movie too much to notice the technical details. Sidekick, i agree with u. Kareeena was really shrill. We reached the theatre late, and started watching the part when she realises she has missed the train the first time. My God! She shrieked so much that I thought we'd made a terribly wrong choice. But it turned out to be a simple romantic refreshing movie with a happy ending!I loved it!
I think Imtiaz got the filmfare award for the best dialogue.

Yajnaseni said...

Both the train and the Amby long shots were fakes, I thought? But I KNEW the weirdo who gives them a lift to Ratlam had something about him. For proof, watch him in Mithya. BTW, why for is Aspi silent about the Hotel 'Descent' check-in scene? And I would welcome his thoughts on Geet's Big Moose boyfriend angle. I mean, how could she place Moose and Shahid Kapur side by side and NOT KNOW?

anu g said...

I saw the first 15 minutes of the movie on TV this Sunday.During the interval they showed some behind-the-scenes info. Apparently since Kareena had never travelled on a train before, she took 25-30 retakes to get a proper shot of her getting onto a running train!

headmistress said...

I loved, loved, loved this film. I was watching it again this weekend and got all happy and hyper over it. While Kareena's usual hyperactivity makes me want to skewer her with pointy things, shewas well tempered with Shahid's more sombre persona, though I agree, could have done without his transformation in the second half - though I did enjoy his dorkiness in the 'dancing in the rain' scene - all geek specs and toothiness!
I am glad though that Imtiaz ali's not taking Kareena on for his next project.

The soundtrack is fantastic, my fave of the year too. The dialogue for me was refreshing, fun, and the whole thing managed to veer away from too much sentimentality (though Geet's family were somewhere on the far end of unbelievable...) It had the same tone as a lot of slightly offbeat, brit-flick rom-coms, rather than loads of nauseating cloying stuff. And I took the toy trains as kitschy irony rather than just poor film making ;)

oh, and I loved the hotel decent/descent thing! ah, joy.

Joules said...

While there is enough written here about Shahid Kapoor's acting I have to point a couple of scenes that I though Shahid really out did himself. Hotel Decent scene where he is suppressing a smile to act all serious, the expressions on his face when he acknowledges that the silly act of flushing the ex's photos brought him much relief.

Kareena was her loud self but the dialogues helped her a lot. They were refreshing.

I did enjoy the Anshuman bit with the punjabi family a lot.

Dara Singh's wife was played by my friends mom who is a local theatre artist in Amritsar. She said Kareena's complexion is flawless and she looks like maida dough.

Bella said...

Actually Joules, a friend of mine was standing right next to Kareena when she was in South Africa some time back, and he said that she has the most beautiful skin. I couldnt believe him, since I think all actresses have really bad skin which they cover up with make up.

Got this movie recorded, so will catch up with it hopefully this weekend. And what's up with Sony advertising a time and then showing the movie at another time. That annoyed me to no end!

anu g said...

The 'maida dough' complexion is thanks to the kapoor genes, I think. I saw one of their aunts years ago,and her skin simply glowed.

Aspi said...

I must say the soundtrack took some getting used to but I see how it works really well in the movie.

I think I skimmed over some of the call girl type comedy because here I sat down with Motorsandal thinking it'll be a good movie to enjoy with everyone. So I spent most of those scenes trying to distract him with a game of chess. (This technique is from the book of good parenting).

And now that its been mentioned, that first scene of Kareena getting on the train - she did such a fake job.

ritha said...

Maida dough complexion! Haha Anu G - cudn't agree more.I absolutely fail to see even an iota or charm in her. I think she was just being her obnoxious self in the first half of this movie..how diff was she compared to K3G or all her other movies? The second half was much better. The lesser u make her act, the better she gets...guess imtiaz took a cue or two from Vishal bharadwaj!
I think more than one song was lifted for this soundtrack. Yeh ishq hai is definitely copied:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=T4poevqspsI
Aao milo chale:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=EGXniVSfSZE
(courtesy:itwofs.com)

Aspi said...

Good detective work, ritha. I can pass Yeh Ishq as inspiration within reason but Aao mil chale sounds plain lifted.

But given this an interesting pattern emerges. It seems Pritam lifts stuff that is not in a spoken language in big Bollywood markets and usually in a different genre.

meena said...

Does anyone here know more about Teddy maurya-the guy who played proprietor of 'hotel Decent'? I dont know if it was lucky chance or genius casting, but he made an impact. I am definitely looking out for him if he shows up in other movies.

Priti said...

Tho' it's been quite a while that I saw JWM, couldn't resist posting my observation here. I wasn't too impressed with Kareena, who I thought was too shrieky. Shahid might've appeared restrained, but I found him a bit stiff. Saw some snatches of the movie this sunday, and still thought he was a tad stiff!
Tho' I love Yeh Ishq Hai, and some other nos. I don't quite care for Nagada...Thought the picturisation was tacky and the no. was too loud.
When i had sent in my post back then I had thought I'd get lynched. But am happy to see while there are soooo many people who loved the movie, there is an equal no. that didn't quite care for it. So am not feeling quite so bad, anymore!!!

leera said...

I had severe trepidations watching this movies and as Aspi rightly pointed out anyone who has seen Mujhse Dosti Karoge (shudder) would.

But hey, the hero for me was the dialogues. While I loved 'the diet coke sipping incisive conversationalist' that Aspi laid out, I have unfortunately met too many delhi/pujabi girls like Geet that the caricature was a home run for me. I call them the no qualms, bindaas raho valley girls.

anu g said...

Ritha,reg. the 'maida dough' comparison, sigh , I wish I was creative enough to come up with such interesting comparisons.But the credit goes to Joules's friend's mom who acted in the movie.
Meena, u r right. That hotel guy managed to leave a very good impact with just a few words and the knowing smile:).

meena said...

anu g, I agree that the 'maida dough' complexion is the kapoor inheritance - look at Riddhima, she got the same skin as kareena and karishma

girlie girl said...

I, for one, loved, loved, LOVED this movie. It's a total chick-flick. I saw it this past weekend for the second time, but the first time I sat down to watch it, I was with my family and I remember my dad and my brother walked up and left within the first 20 mins of the film...they couldn't bear to hear Kareena's character anymore!! I agree, i dont think Kareena's acting (the first half, atleast) was much different from her previous roles, whether its Kkkg, or MDK, or even the horrendous Khushi!! Shahid, on the other hand, completley changed his acting...I used to completely dislike him before Vivah, but now, i've become a Shahid fan!

Although, i have to say, i did not notice the toy train, but the green-screen looked like something from back in the Dev Anand days!

Anonymous said...

Aspi,

found your site from Amrita's Indiequill...first comment I think.

Add a heart me-too to your review of the movie - I actually managed to catch the movie on TV - and was so put off by Kareena being Kareena. Am pretty disappointed in Imtiaz - I loved Socha Na Tha.

And you're so right about Bollywood's views on working women - BAH! No idea why I continue to watch any movies :-D

- M

Aspi said...

M, welcome. You can get back at Bollywood by identifying the top ways the industry puts down women :)

One: Working Womens Hostel
Two: Wistful longing for family while sitting on top of billion Rupee empire
Three: Working Women Clothes (getting better you have to admit)
Four: Putting down really hard working women like Helen and Bindu (my personal Favorite)

Sania said...

5) Giving up your own love/life to marry your dead sister's husband, in order to give the children a mother who is 'oh so close' to their own.

girlie girl said...

on the whole 'maida dough' issue, a friend of mine was in Bombay and went to the Balaji Awards ceremony with a soap actor and his wife, and she saw Saifeena there and she said Kareeena is even very pretty in person. Plus, like meena said, it's in the Kapoor gene, along with the light eyes!

Mind Rush said...

Mind Rush on "Jab We Rebound"..

OK, this whole film was about finding love on the rebound. In reel life, it's True Love. In real life...just don't do it! Kareena, Deepika, I am sorry you did not pay heed.

I loved Shahid's subtle expressions too, and also his comic timing. Also liked Divya Seth. She had about 1.5 seconds on camera and yet conveyed so much pain and astonishment.

Anonymous said...

my comments abt this movie have been covered mostly by theothers,
liked shahid, kareena overrated but film was time pass with its moments.

actually my fav is the directors first underrated socha na tha , the dialogues are of the same style natural ( but better I think )and its full of conversations , so rare in indian films. and the supporting charcters/family parts better done.
ayesha takia dialogue delivery was so refreshing , unfortunately she hasnt lived up to those expectations so far except a dor maybe, and abhay a decent debut , of course then on he has suprised with his film selection and performances esp coming from the deol clan .

Bharati

leera said...

Good info Bharati. I too watched Socha na tha (purely because it was available with subtitles and I had a non-hindi crowd to entertain.)

Gotta say was pleasantly surprised, highly underrated movie, but made me watch out for Abhay Deol, finally an actor from that family!

Saritha said...

Good Mornnnnnnnning Drift!

It's 6:45 am in India and everyone's still asleep.A street dog's barking,neighbour's maid is doing the dishes,bandiwala selling 'mauuuuz'(bananas),and I am finally doing what I like to do,catching up with drift.

Aspi,you've covered quiet a bit in these few days and I am going to need few hrs of net time to catch up with all the posts and the comments.To start off,I am glad you've finally seen this movie and thanks for linking to my (cough cough) review,if you call that one:)

Toy train??Gosh,I didn't notice that.Like anu mentioned,I read somewhere that Imtiaz had tough time shooting the train sequence with Kareena in Mumbai during a busy day,with passengers complaining abt the inconvience they had to go thru b'coz of the shooting,that he wrapped up without taking a shot.From what I gathered it was similar to DDLJ scene.Now come to think of it,Is that why he chose a diff ending to the film,b'coz of his heroine's inability to run and catch a train?Too bad.B'coz it's the climax that caught my attention as Imtiaz refused to follow the book rule.

btw,any one has seen tamil 'dum dum dum' starring Madhavan and Jyothika,which I think released before 'Socha na tha'.Similar plots.Inspired/lifted?

Also that Teddy Maurya(thanks meena) was a hoot.I've seen him elsewhere,can't seem to recollect.

Who is Divya Khosla?

Aspi said...

Yoo Saritha! Good to have you back and hope you are having a good time in the desh. Divya Seth was the actress Mind Rush was referring to - sometime actress on Hum Log and displayer of a terrific face lift job in Jab We Met (I don't know how else to explain her looks). She played Shahid's mum.

anu g said...

Hey Saritha. Lovely to see you back again.Waiting to hear more from you:).

Anonymous said...

Aspi,

Thanks! yeah, Bollywood got my goat for the longest time, and even now, I go into stages of not watching anything remotely filmy :)
Good idea on the list:

6) Portraying almost every working mom as evil career minded bitch who doesn't care for her family!
7) If woman shows slight signs of sense, and starts a job, she will promptly throw it up when she gets married.

sorry to leave a comment for someone else on your blog, but just saw Saritha's comment abt Dumm Dumm Dumm...that was my first thought when I saw SnT, but then the story is quite common, I remember reading a couple of short stories on similar themes in various magazines in India, and the treatment wasn't really similar, so I decided it couldn't be a copy!

-M

Saritha said...

Thanks Aspi and anu.love you guys.

I am having a great time.Haven't really bothered to run around and meet people or visit places,so far.We've been spending some quiet time with family.Will be busy the next couple of weeks,too many family functions to attend,places to visit and all.Poor bandwidth could be a reason that I am taking too long to publish a comment.Lekin India mein sab chaltha hain:)

Aspi said...

8) Looking fabulous and singing great but having to marry a talentless hairy bear like Anil Kapoor just because he's a producer (re: Taal)

Anonymous said...

yeah saritha dum dum dum had a similar theme , though as M says the story is age old and the styleof making and setting are different so it did not strike me when watching socha na tha. also a few technicalities such as abhay being romantically involved with another girl etc.
a digression , but ddd had such good music , I listen to those songs even now , pity karthik raja ( another good score was grahan in hindi )has now taken a backseat to yuvan . there was lots of hype for ddd maniratnams prodn , his assistant at the helm and ilayarajas sons music

Bharati

sidekick said...

yoohoo, saritha .... great to see you back here - we've missed you! hope to hear more fm you when u've caught up. more garamagaram khabar like tabu-upen patel is welcome :)

M, we regularly have long conversations with each other and often aspi simply acts as cheerleader ;) . This place often seems more message board than blog and Apsi does everything to promote that!

anu g said...

M,welcome!Heres a suggestion,or rather a request. Could u change ur name to something else/longer, cos we already have an M onboard, and its a little confusing.
Sidekick, well said:).U said Aspi does everythign to promote the message-board! Do u think we regulars give him any other choice:).

original m said...

well my typing style is so distinct that anyone will be able to tell which one's the real m and which one's an imposter (jk)

hey sania - i don't like diet pepsi because pepsi max is so much better. i don't like to talk about 1984 because i have been hearing about it ever since i was a baby and the whole thing heats me up and makes me angry

Copyright and Patent Attorney said...

I am not a Kareena fan. I did like a few of her performances - Jab We., Mujhe Kuch Kehna and Aitraaz. I think Jab We was her best followed by Aitraaz. I think Shahid was very good as well - but unfortunately his performance was underrated.

As for the confusion on original M, pls note that this is a copyright, (c)M, is dear to us and any infringement can have legal implications (under the Copyright Act 1957).

Anonymous said...

watch live online tv

www.cinefever.com

Aspi said...

ah yes, sidekick and anu g: I love it this way. And I'm glad we have a lot of people who are kind enough to stop by who are more informed and articulate than me - both of you included. In fact, sidekick, I wish you'd write more: it doesn't have be funny or TV-related. Mostly because I enjoy reading it.

Bharati, I hope you keep us updated on the South Indian film industries regularly. Curiosity always overwhelms me although there isn't always time to keep up with it.

New M, just wanted to mention that if you use M# you'll be a complete geek hero.

Beth said...

Mujhse Dosti Karoge was my very first Hindi film and I still love it. I realize I'm totally alone on this. I finally got to see Jab We Met a few days ago and ate it up with a big ol' spoon. They're both delightful and it made me hope their relationship had been similarly adorable (at least to them) in real life.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the welcome all! OK, I shall change my name on Aspi's board to Bitterlemons, a name I use on a few other boards...Hi Beth! :-)

Bitterlemons

sidekick said...

Bitterlemons, that's a fun handle :) . Hope to hear more fm u!

Mind Rush said...

Bollywood and women, contd..

#9: If the hairy husband strays and is blatantly adulterous, then she takes him back and sticks by him if he's sorry. (Thanks god for Shabana's good sense! She was the exception)

Oh, wait! Am I talking about Bollywood or New York???

Aspi said...

Mind Rush, I read somewhere that after that whole Spitzer incident (which I think you are referring to), people have been going crazy ass bananas registering domain names like Client9.com and Room871.com.

And I thought Bollywood was sleazy. Turns out the tech industry has a leg up.

Joules said...

Hey Beth, I actually was just going over your website. And I thought I loved bollywood :)

If you liked MDK, watch Hrithik's 'na tum jano na hum'. I loved that movie and the songs were great. And it was also nice to see Saif in a not so cool avatar. Too bad the movie flopped.

Joules said...

On Eliot S. Does that guy not remind of you of popeye? There is something cartoonish about his face.

Sania said...

Bitterlemons and Beth - do I know you both from the Bollywhat forums? I'm insaniaity over there - generally hanging out in the language section, correcting grammar.

Good to see you both here!

Joules said...

I always loved the old movies where a couple would enter a party and the host would ask the guy "kuch whiskey ho jaye" and then call the waiter and tell him "bhabhiji ke liye orange juice le aao". They had to be that specific incase the indian junta would get all confused.

Aspi said...

Joules he does indeed look like Popeye now that you mention it! Boy, to think that poor girl had to put up with Popeye to get a CD cut.

In any case the OJ recall had me recalling this movie I saw in which Neetu takes Amitabh to a bar at night and then calls the waiter over and orders two "Orange Juice"s. What a party animal!

ps: Beth is trouping all over Europe these days so may not respond for a bit.

Beth said...

bitterlemons - hieeee! yay!

sania - I am wildly inactive at Bollywhat, though I read more than I post. Mainly Filmi Geek tells me if anything good is brewing and I go peek. And I'm all for grammar fights!

joules - hee hee! I've seen Na Tum Jano Na Hum (and can never remember its name), but it was ages ago and I hardly remember it except for not being wildly impressed with Esha - and of course being struck by the whole letter-writing plot again after MDK (though I don't know which was made first - imdb lists them as the same year). I always like suggestions, so fire away!

Cinderella said...

Jab we met was soooooooo entertaining!! the best thing about the movie for me was the fact that it never bored me...not even for a second considering i'm not able to sit thru a movie for 3 hrs these days.Jodha Akbar left me with a bad headache for 2 days:|
My fav song from the movie is 'aaoge jab tum'.....very soulful!!
i was happy the camera was focussed on Kareena's face atleast a few times when she was crying.in some of her previous movies,i remember,when she had to cry she would just cover off her face.she just couldn't cry!!othwerise, i still love her!she's one of my all time favs.
Another thing was that the director din't need any foreign locations to make the movie and songs look soo beautiful.it was all only India!:-)
But even i din't notice the toy train thing..haha..that was funny!

And speaking about Na tum jaano na hum,it's one fo my fav movies too.omg i loved it.it was such a sweet movie.maybe practically not possible and safe,atleast not these days..but who dosen't like fantasies!!:)

Anonymous said...

Hi Sania,

Yes, I'm Bitterlemons from Bollywhat...feels like a reunion now :-)

Bitterlemons

Aspi said...

I love bitter lemon. I even wrote about it once I think - back when I had no clue what to blog about.

Indie said...

Guys, where can I find this movie? From your review, it sounds very interesting. Is it available in youtube? Because in the continent where I live now, I don't think they have Bollywood movies in CD/DVD.

BTW, I found out abt this movie because one of the tracks is copied from a song by my most favorite band, Peterpan. Actually I'm proud that people from other countries can enjoy the the beautiful melody composed by Peterpan (although Peterpan is already extremely famous in several Southeast Asian countries). If only Pritam has the decency to at least acknowledge Peterpan as the original composer.

One more thing, Yeh Ishq Hai is actually copied from three different songs, Anggun's song Etre Une Femme, Agnes Monica's Tak Ada Logika (both Anggun and Agnes are Indonesian diva) and a Tamil song which I forgot the title.

Aspi said...

indie, welcome. You can buy Jab We Met on Nehaflix or any other online store. Just google it if Nehaflix doesn't work for you.

I'll check out those songs you mentioned a little later today. Thanks for the info!