Adventures in Bollywood

“Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge”

I can pretty much number the Bollywood films I’ve watched on one hand. In trying to expand my knowledge and repertoire, I reached out to my good buddy and Bollywood expert Ibraheem “Mark Brown” (Twitter: @The_Anim_Comm). Without hesitation, Ibraheem recommended that I watch the 1995 Bollywood sensation Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (also known as DDLJ, which acronym I’ll use in this article for simplicity’s sake).

Shah Rukh Khan as Raj and Kajol as Simran in DDLJ (© Yash Raj Films)

If you haven’t heard of DDLJ (I know that I hadn’t until Ibraheem’s recommendation), it’s only one of the most successful Bollywood films ever. The film was a box office smash when it opened in 1995. It won multiple film industry awards in India, including 10 Filmfare awards and a National Film Award for “Best Popular Film Providing Wholesome Entertainment” (one of my favorite award title names ever). It is also the longest-running film in the history of Indian cinema where it has been playing since 1995 at the Maratha Mandir Theatre in Mumbai (there’s a daily matinee screening of the film; the theater almost ended the run in 2015, but a new agreement with the distributor was made and it’s still playing there today).

(Source unknown; used without permission)

About the film, it was the directoral debut of Aditya Chopra (who is now a major movie mogul in India). It stars Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan as Raj (the role that catapulted him to superstardom) along with Bollywood beauty Kajol as Simran. As a fun note for Western audiences, my friend Ibraheem pointed out to me that Amrish Puri, the actor who plays Simran’s father in the film, is also the same actor who terrified me as a youth with his portrayal of the dude who pulls hearts out of humans in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (and his eyes are just as scary in this film, too).

Don’t mess with Amrish Puri! (© Yash Rai Films)

The plot centers around Raj and Simran, of course. The families of Raj and Simran respectively are Indian ex-pats living in London. 20 years prior, Simran’s father arranged his daughter’s marriage to his friend’s son–a guy who Simran has never met. Before her arranged marriage happens, Simran gets her father’s permission to take a 30-day train tour of Europe with some of her friends. On the trip she meets good-intentioned goofball Raj and his friends who are doing the same thing. Raj is immediately smitten by Simran, but Simran isn’t so sure about Raj (not to mention that she’s already taken by the dude she’s never met). The duo inevitably fall in love, but Simran is in a horrible dilemma–should she follow her heart and go for Raj or respect her father’s wishes and proceed with the arranged marriage? (You’re going to have to watch it yourself to find out what happens.)

One of my favorite scenes in DDLJ. (© Yash Raj Films)

I was quite smitten by this film. I found the love story to be incredibly charming and, ultimately, very moving. I’ve seen other films with Shah Rukh Khan before and think he is a talented and compelling actor. Kajol is also a good actress and I really liked her portral of a young woman wanting to honor her father and her family but also follow her heart. The film’s themes of family, loyalty, honor, and goodness are so often overlooked or excluded from films these days, that it was very refreshing to see these ever-important traits front and center. 

I heard a famous Hollywood director once state that movie directors’ first films are always their best films (think of John Huston’s The Maltese Falcon or Mike Nichols’ The Graduate as examples). With that being said, I still can’t believe that DDLJ is Aditya Chopra’s first film. Chopra directed DDLJ with so much confidence, beauty, and style–it’s a remarkable achievement for any director, let alone a first-time director. 

The film follows many of the conventions that I’ve experienced watching the handful of Bollywood films that I’ve seen. It’s long (run time is 3 hr. 9 min.), the musical numbers are elaborate and often bizarrely out of place (which I believe is part of the charm of it all), and the film’s a bit a hybrid of multiple genres (romantic comedy/screwball comedy/family drama/martial arts movie–really) which can be a bit jarring. Still, even though I’m 22 years late, DDLJ was a delight to experience and I can’t wait for future adventures watching more Bollywood films.

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge is available for rent and purchase on Apple iTunes (that’s how I watched it).

Source: Wikipedia

Movie Posters

More New Poster Art for “Spider-Man: Homecoming”

While not all of the Sony-designed poster art for Marvel Studios’ upcoming film Spider-Man: Homecoming has been a success, this new poster really hit the bulls-eye. Spider-Man: Homecoming opens on July 7. Really excited to see this film.

(© Marvel)

I couldn’t find full poster art for these two images, but I’m including them in this post because they’re great.

(© Marvel)

(© Marvel)

Other Things

Pixar Motorama 2017

Pixar Animation Studios’ bi-annual “Motorama” car show was held last Friday, June 16, in conjunction with the opening of Cars 3. This by-invitation-only event is the coolest car show that no one outside of Pixar gets to see. Thankfully, they let people take pictures and so here are some photos from the event. Enjoy.

Bruce Canepa McLaren P1 posing along side the Luxo Jr. statue.

The King from Pixar’s CARS movies (aka 1970 Plymouth Superbird)

Doc Hudson from Pixar’s CARS movies (aka 1951 Hudson Hornet)

Two of Walt Disney’s cars made the show: Walt’s 1924 Moon Roadster and his 1964 Mercedes-Benz SL 230. How cool are these?! (Photo and information courtesy of The Walt Disney Family Museum)

John Lasseter’s restored Chrysler Town and Country convertible

Ford Motor Company brought in a Ford GT for the show

McLaren Automotive brought in a McLaren 720

Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd. brought an Aston Martin DB11

And Nissan brought in a GT-R! So cool.

And here are some vintage cars that were on display (sorry that I wasn’t there to document these cars in more detail…).

Attending Pixar Motorama in person is definitely on my dream bucket list.

Photos courtesy of Autoweek

Current Cinema

“Cars 3” Premiere Pics

My invitation never arrived for last night’s Cars 3 premiere (haha), so I had to live vicariously through Instagram pics. The event took place in Anaheim, California at the Anaheim Convention Center and in Cars Land at Disney California Adventure. Cars 3 opens in theaters on Friday, July 16!

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Jackson Storm!

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What a fun night… everyone should see cars 3!

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Disney Movie of the Month

“The Boatniks”

It was fun to revisit The Boatniks, a Disney live-action comedy from 1970. 

Theatrical release poster (© Disney)

Ensign and major klutz Tom Garland (played by Robert Morse) has an eventful first assignment at a Southern California Coast Guard station. His commanding officer (played by Don Ameche) knew Tom’s father, a decorated war hero, and, therefore, holds Tom to a higher, if not impossible, standard. He meets the atttactive and smart sailing instructor Kate (played by Stephanie Powers). And he encounters three suspicious men (played by Norman Fell, Mickey Shaugnessy, and the great Phil Silvers) who actually are wanted criminals who have just pulled off a major jewelry heist and accidentally drop the jewels in the ocean near Tom’s Coast Guard station. 

What ensues is a late-1960s/early-1970s Disney-style screwball comedy as the three bumbling criminals try to recover the jewels and clumsy Tom and beautiful Kate try to figure out what the guys are up to. Also in the comedic mix are a bevy of zany characters who dock their boats nearby (hence the title of the film). 

The pacing is slow and the comedy is definitely dated; still, I had blast re-watching this film after many years. The Southern California location shots are fun to see (along with the soundstage cuts of the actors in the boats). Stephanie Powers lights up the screen with a great 1970s vibe. Phil Silvers, although not given a brilliant script to work with, still livens every scene he’s in with his incredible comedic timing, expression, and delivery. 

Ultimately, watching The Boatniks again made me very nostalgic for the classic Disney live-action feature family comedy genre which no longer exists. While none of these post-Walt comedies were particularly brilliant, there’s a definite charm to them. Seasons change, but I wish that fun, family friendly, non-franchise comedies could be part of The Walt Disney Studios’ slate once again for families everywhere to enjoy.

My rating: 2 out of 5 stars

Robert Morse and Don Ameche (© Disney)

Mickey Shaughnessy, Phil Silvers, and Norman Fell (© Disney)

Robert Morse and Stephanie Powers (© Disney)

Movie Posters

New Poster Posse Posters for “Cars 3”

Cars 3 opens in theaters a week from today on Friday, June 16. I like these Poster Posse posters that were commissioned by the Walt Disney Studios to commemorate the upcoming release of the film.

Artist: Andrew Swainson (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Stephen Sampson (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Oli Riches (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Doaly (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Jeremy Pailler (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Adam Rabalais (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Rodolforever (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Maria Suarez Inclan (© Disney•Pixar)

Artist: Salvador Anguiano (© Disney•Pixar)

Sources: Oh My Disney, Poster Posse