Romance On Screen

 

Before Sunrise, Before Sunset
and some of the best celluloid romances

Before Sunrise; Picture Courtesy: www.movieposter.com

Before Sunrise; Picture Courtesy: http://www.movieposter.com

I watched two beautiful films today, Before Sunrise (1995) and its sequel, Before Sunset (2004) starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. ‘Before Sunrise’ is about an American guy, Jesse (Hawke) and a French girl, Celine (Delpy) who meet on a train in Europe. They decide to spend an evening together, exploring the city (Vienna) before going their own ways in the morning. As they spend time together, talking to each other about things ranging from the gender war, sex, family, ex-boyfriend/girlfriend and more, they fall in love. However, they realise that they have different lives in different parts of the world and only have that one evening to spend together. They do not want to end what they have started and promise to see each other after six months at the same place, the train station. That is how the film ends and it is up to the viewer to decide whether they meet or not. There are only these two characters and the whole film is about the conversations they have. That is where the brilliance of the film lays, the script (Richard Linklater and Kim Krizan) and the effortless acting by the lead pair. You almost believe that these are two people who have just met and you get to know them better as each scene unfolds.

Director, Richard Linklater returns with the sequel, ‘Before Sunset’ with the same mood that the first film had set, nine years earlier (Delpy and Hawke share the writing credits with Linklater in this one). Set in Paris this time, Jesse and Celine meet again and as earlier, they have a few hours before Jesse returns to America. The film retains the freshness of the first one with an equally engaging screenplay. I strongly recommend both these films to all, even those who are not big fans of romantic films.

On the topic of celluloid romance, let me list down some fine romantic films both in Hollywood and Bollywood (fairly recent ones)…

Pic: WikipediaPic: movieposter.com
pics: movieposter.com

As Good As It Gets  (1997) – It is a comedy and a romance but not like any other rom-coms that Hollywood produces. A homophobic-racist-OCD suffering novelist, a waitress who is a single mother, a gay artist and a dog… this is a weird film. Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt and Greg Kinnear give performances that light up the screen. I have only one word to describe this film: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!

Shakespeare In Love (1998) – Was Shakespeare in love when he wrote Romeo & Juliet? Joseph Fiennes as Will Shakespeare and Gwyneth Paltrow as his muse are a delight to watch. Judi Dench, Ben Affleck, Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush form a brilliant supporting cast.

Pic: movieposter.com

pic: movieposter.com

Love Story (1970) – Ok, this film is not that new but it inspired many more romantic movies, especially in India. Rich boy (Ryan O’Neal) meets poor girl (Ali MacGraw), they fall in love and marry against his parents’ wishes… the girl dies of leukemia. One of most romantic and tragic films, it is scripted by Erich Segal who wrote his best-selling novel of the same name while the film was being made. Francis Lai’s background score is simply outstanding.

Dirty Dancing (1987) – A girl-meets-boy story with dance as the backdrop… Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze star in this stellar film with a fantastic background score (remember the song, ‘Time of my life’) and dance sequences.  

Pretty Woman (1990) – Ladies and gentlemen… presenting Julia Roberts. By the way, Richard Gere was also there. Everything about this film is iconic… this is the baap of so-called ‘chick flicks’.

Pic: movieposter.com  

pics: movieposter.com

Pride and Prejudice (1995) – Not the one starring Keira Knightley, actually I am not talking about the film. I am talking about BBC’s short series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. With six hour-long episodes, the series does full justice to Jane Austen’s most famous novel. The tension between Darcy and Lizzy, the witty exchanges and the feel of that era is very well captured here. CD / DVD sets are easily available at all leading music/film stores.

Pic: bbc.co.uk
Pride and Prejudice; Pic: bbc.co.uk

Lamhe (1991) – This film is the reason behind me writing this blog. I watched it first when I was just eight years old. I loved the colours, the funny portions in the second half set in London; as I grew up and watched it again and again, I understood the film and the emotions. This is probably Yash Chopra’s finest film till date and also one of the biggest commercial flops of his career. While it failed in India, Lamhe worked extremely well in the UK and other overseas market. Written by Honey Irani, the film has career best performances by Sridevi and Anil Kapoor. The film is about unexpressed love and has a complicated plot involving a girl who loves a much older man, who was in love with her mother. The film was even labeled incestuous at the time of its release. 

Pic: planetbollywood.com

Lamhe; pic: planetbollywood.com

Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995) – Jesse aka Ethan Hawke met Celine aka Julie Delpy on a Eurorail journey in Before Sunrise; in the same year Raj (Shah Rukh Khan) met Simran (Kajol) on a Eurorail trip again. Aditya Chopra’s DDLJ changed the way Bollywood made films… NRIs came into focus and Indian values were in vogue again. Simran wanted to elope with Raj and her mother was more than willing to help; Raj on the other hand wanted her father’s blessings…  

DDLJ; Pic: planetbollywood.com

DDLJ; pic: planetbollywood.com

Hum Tum (2004) – When Harry Met Sally meets Before Sunrise meets Before Sunset… there is not much original about the film apart from the chemistry between the lead pair. Rani Mukherjee dominates every frame in which she appears, sidelining Saif Ali Khan who also does a good job. It is probably the first Hindi film where the heroine does not think that pre-marital sex is a good enough reason to get married.

Hum Tum; Pic: planetbollywood.com

Hum Tum; pic: planetbollywood.com

Saathiya (2002) – What happens when Mani Ratnam (Producer, Screenplay), Yash Chopra (Producer), A R Rahman (Music), Gulzar (Lyrics, Dialogues), Anil Mehta (Cinematography) and Rani Mukherjee get together for a film? Saathiya takes an intimate and realistic look at a young married couple’s life. First time director, Shaad Ali did a great job and so did the lead pair, Rani and Vivek Oberoi.

Saathiya; Pic: planetbollywood.com

Saathiya; pic: planetbollywood.com

Silsila (1981) – Another Yash Chopra romance that failed to set the cash registers ringing. Just like Lamhe, it is one of his finest works. Amitabh Bachchan is married to Jaya Bachchan and Rekha is married to Sanjeev Kumar; yet sparks fly between Rekha and Amitabh. Fact and fiction merged with this extra marital affair saga. As a nation are we not ready to see infidelity on screen? Both Silsila and Karan Johar’s recent Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna faced criticism due to the same reason.

Silsila; Pic: planetbollywood.com

Silsila; pic: planetbollywood.com

These are some of my favourite romantic flicks. Interestingly all Hindi ones have come out from the same production house, Yash Raj Films. Some of the other romantic movies I like include Notting Hill (1999), Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Titanic (1997), Chandni (1989; Yash Raj again), Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) and Saawariya (2007), amongst others. Do share what you think about these films and any others that you think fit the list.

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Kambakkht Ishq

 

What were they thinking?

Pic: Eros Entertainment; Source: planetbollywood.com

Pic: Eros Entertainment; Source: planetbollywood.com

Montage of Hollywood stars on the red-carpet (courtesy the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards), second grade stunts, Brandon Routh as ‘Mr. Brandon’, Akshay Kumar as a star stuntman, Vindu Dara Singh as a sidekick, dumb chicks dying to sleep with Akshay, Aftab Shivdasani and Amrita Arora at the altar, Kareena Kapoor in a micro-mini, forced kiss, wedding reception, Viagra joke, bad song (actually a very bad song), silly fight (actually it was beyond silly), cake on the bride’s face, fart on the bride’s face… OK! These were not random words but the exact screenplay replication of Kambakkht Ishq’s first fifteen minutes.

Let me tell you the rest of the story in fast forward (those who still want to watch the film please do not read beyond this point). Stuntman, Viraj (Akshay) hates the supermodel-surgeon, Bebo aka Sim (Kareena) (yes! I am not lying about the profession); supermodel-surgeon hates the stuntman; negligent supermodel-surgeon operates the stuntman and leaves her silly watch inside his intestines; silly watch alarm makes noise inside the stuntman’s tummy, please note the alarm tune here, ‘Mangalam, Mangalam’ (wedding mantras); supermodel-surgeon seduces the stuntman; supermodel-surgeon operates the stuntman to recover the watch; supermodel-surgeon dumps the stuntman; stuntman decides to marry Hollywood starlet, Denise Richards; supermodel-surgeon sings a sad song, reaches the wedding to profess her love; stuntman dumps the Hollywood starlet; supermodel-surgeon and the stuntman get together.

If you think this is the worst written film review/article ever, you are right; I am supremely inspired by the film at the moment. My heart goes out to the producers of the film, Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment, Sunil Lulla and the distributors, Eros Entertainment for the crores they will lose (but they claim to have got the biggest opening in the history of the Indian Box Office, so my sympathies with the audience only). Director, Sabbir Khan who also shares credit for the screenplay has done an extremely bad job by trouncing previous Akshay Kumar duds like Chandni Chowk To China and Tashan.

Performance wise both Akshay and Kareena did what they were asked to, mouth sexist dialogues and look glamorous. I understand that it was not a performance oriented film but it doesn’t even rise to the level of Singh is King (which by the way was quite enjoyable).  Good actors like Kirron Kher, Boman Irani and Javed Jaffrey were wasted with under-written characters. So called actors like Aftab Shivdasani and Amrita Arora hog too much screen space (I wonder why). Kehkashan Patel (I don’t blame you if you don’t remember her) and Vindu Dara Singh (Dara Singh’s son) were taken out from the deep freezer but were not allowed to thaw before being put in front of the camera (their frozen expressions said it all). Now for the much talked about Hollywood stars in the film, Sylvester ‘Rambo’ Stallone, Brandon ‘Superman’ Routh and DeniseBondgirl’ Richards; they all had poor cameos and I sincerely hope they do not think that all Bollywood films are like this.

Technically too, I am not impressed with the film; the much talked about stunts are all stale, editing is patchy and the background music is mediocre (Salim Sulaiman). Anu Malik’s music is not memorable at all and the ‘Bebo’ song is simply unbelievable (what were they thinking?) Finally, about the much talked about styling in the film. Aki Narula does a good job of making Kareena look like a supermodel (cannot say the same about the surgeon part) in the shortest of dresses and the tallest of heels, all sourced from Italy apparently. Shabina Khan sourced the trendiest clothes and footwear for Akshay from the biggest brands worldwide but it all just doesn’t seem right. The actor seems a little too old for a skinny and printed pair of jeans with golden sneakers or just incorrect while sporting a white jacket shirt-less at a formal awards ceremony.

Overall, two thumbs down for Kambakkht Ishq!

My rating:  * One star (on five)

– Shrey Khetarpal