AoM Shorts Collection Volume 2 (2nd Quarter 2005)
Various - Director / Various - Music
Various - Lyrics / Running time: Several hours lots of minutes
Well here we are with another edition of the Army of Monkey's Shorts Collection. Now for a quick reminder as to the purpose of these articles - When I find movies that are quite good and don't wish to reveal the entire plot (as I usually do) I toss them into one of these collections. It is safe to assume all of the titles featured here would have gone on to high ratings had they been subjected to the usual treatment.
With that being said, let's get to the recommendations.
Main Hoon Na (2004) (Own it!)
Main Hoon Na is a fun movie. One of the more prominent choreographers in the Bollywood scene takes her first shot at directing, and knocks it out of the park. Farah Khan leads us through this story of family, patriotism, and forgiveness with a great deal of skill. The basic premise of the film deals with an Indian Army officer being sent to protect the daughter of an important government official who is a potential target for terrorists. That said, there are quite a few subplots and side stories at work here, all adding up to a busy movie that keeps your attention.
Ram Sharma (Shah Rukh Khan) is one of the best men in the Army. He is part of a task force assigned to serve under Project Milaap, a controversial plan to exchange prisoners with Pakistan as a gesture of goodwill. The commanding officer of this squad happens to be Ram's father. Not everyone is happy about Project Milaap, especially Raghavan (Sunil Shetty) who will stop at nothing to prevent this mission from succeeding. The diplomat in charge of creating Project Milaap asks Ram to protect his daughter Sanjana (Amrita Rao) from Raghavan and his men under the disguise of a college student at the university she attends. Through the course of events, Ram learns that he has a half-brother who also is attending college there, and hilarity ensues.
I am forced to generalize here, as there are many, many elements at play in this tale. After all is said and done, this was a very fun movie to watch, and I'd recommend it highly.
China Gate (1999) (Own it!)
China Gate, or as I like to think of it, The Indian Seven Samurai (Plus Three) is the story of redemption for a group of aging soldiers who left the Army under shameful circumstances. We've got quite a few big name actors in this piece, as well as a misleading cover to the DVD case. Included in our show are Amrish Puri (R.I.P.), Naseeruddin Shah, and Mamta Kulkarni. You might be asking why I don't list Urmila Matondkar there despite her being the one predominantly featured on the cover. Well, Urmila only shows up for one musical number, and that's towards the end of the movie. Not to sell this short, it's a great song ("Chamma Chamma Baaje Re"). However I think poor Mamta deserves at least a little room on the cover!
Once one of the service's most formidable fighting groups, Col. Krishna Kant (Om Puri) and his men made a fateful mistake in the heat of battle, and were forced out of the Army in shame. However, Kant is approached seventeen years later by Sandhya (Mamta Kulkarni) to come to her small village and help fight off a band of raiders that regularly come through town and pillage the place. Kant seeks out his former squad mates to go to the village's aid and reclaim their lost honor. Some of the men are reluctant, but they all realize that there are helpless lives at stake, and they are in the position to make a real difference before it is too late.
As mentioned earlier, this is quite similar to the plot of Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, but that doesn't keep it from being entertaining. I quite enjoyed this movie and it was fun to see the older actors get to do some action roles. Oh, and the villain of the piece has obviously seen Sholay, one of the classics of Indian cinema. The performance could be seen as an homage to the classic Gabbar Singh. Overall, this is a satisfying piece of work.
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (1999) (Own it!)
Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam has perhaps one of the most intriguing plots of any of the Bollywood productions I've seen thus far. Of note, this was the first Salman Khan movie I ever saw. HDDCS is one polished production - lavish sets, intricate costumes, great music, and a refreshing plot all come together to make for a very interesting story.
Nandini (Aishwarya Rai) is the daughter of a classical singer who is known throughout the land. (Sound familiar?) Life is going pretty well for her when a new student comes to their home to be her father's student. Sameer (Salman Khan) is unlike anyone she's met before. He is lively, carefree, and is constantly speaking to his father's spirit up in Heaven. The two of them get along famously, but must hide their growing affections from the rest of the family in fear of being improper. They are eventually found out, and Sameer is expelled from the home. That's awkward enough, but add to the mix a suitor, Vanraj (Ajay Devgan). Vanraj is a good match for Nandini and her marriage is fixed. It eventually comes to light that she does not love Vanraj, and he makes the surprising move of taking Nandini to Europe to find the man she truly loves.
What follows is a long tale of realizing the power of love and sacrifice, and doing the right thing no matter how much it may hurt. I'll admit, the ending had me rather surprised, and above all quite satisfied. This is a very good movie, and I recommend it highly.
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1999) (Own it!)
Chemistry between actors can definitely make a movie a hit. Watching Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge was a treat, and we are fortunate enough to have them together again for Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Add to this combination the delightful real life cousin of Kajol, Rani Mukherjee and we're in for a fun show.
Rahul (SRK) and Anjali (Kajol) are the best of friends at their college. Anjali is a bit of a tomboy, and is constantly competing with Rahul in sports, or really anything that people can compete in. However, Anjali's feelings for Rahul begin to change into something more serious. Before she can confess how she feels to him, a newcomer shows up and steals Rahul's heart - enter Tina (Rani Mukherjee). Rahul and Tina go on to become married, leaving poor Anjali to herself. Seems pretty cut and dried, doesn't it? Well now, let's not be too hasty. As it turns out, as Tina is giving birth to their daughter, she has some complications that result in her untimely death. Rahul is devastated and raises his daughter, creatively named Anjali, on his own. Years later, young Anjali uncovers some of her father's past, and goes in search of his oldest and best friend just to see if any sparks fly.
This is a fun family oriented movie with lots of comedy (unfortunately including Johnny Lever) and an overall sense of "cuteness." However it never gets too sweet, and it's good to see Kajol and SRK together again. They have a good rapport and the relationship is always believable, whether they are fighting over a basketball or having a more serious moment. This is a good show for all ages. The heavier scenes are played in such a way as to emphasize the love for those involved and downplaying the tragedy of what is happening. Highly recommended!
This brings us to a close for the second volume of The Shorts. As always, there are plenty more articles in the works, so please stop by again soon!