Word for the Day - purblind - which I came across in a Saint short story - as in "fit to govern this purblind country". I like the sound of this word but doubt if I will ever get it into a conversation and if I did people would just give me a puzzled look. Meaning - 1) having poor vision or nearly blind, 2) slow in understanding, dull.
Get your disco dancing shoes back on! Three Bollywood disco songs all sung by the great Nazia Hassan. Nazia was born in my first stomping ground - Karachi, Pakistan in 1965 and was first discovered by actor Feroz Khan for his film Qurbani. She was fifteen years old at the time and sang Aap Jaisa Koi, which was picturized in the film by Zeenat Aman. The song and film were big hits. In the same year she sang for a film that was all disco - Disco Diwane - and the title song was an even bigger hit in the disco crazy country. Two years later she sang in Star and had a hit with Boom Boom. Interestingly, her brother Zoheb Hassan sang the male vocals for Star and Disco Diwane. Sadly, Nazia died in 2000, leaving behind quite a legacy of music but also of spending much of her time helping poor children all over the world.
Not that anyone has seemed particularly interested in these Bollywood actresses, but one of the really nice things about getting into Bollywood films and the personalities that surround it is that there is an enormous amount of information about them on the Internet - in English. After trying to diligently piece together information on Hong Kong stars for years with a snippet here and a sentence there - this is easy - most of the actors are on Wikipedia and current gossip about them is rampant on the Internet - and there are loads and loads of blogs about Bollywood - way more than on Hong Kong films. Check Beth Loves Bollywood for a great list of links. And now apparently, many of the actors have begun blogging and twittering themselves - so if you want to know what Amrita Rao had for breakfast you can do so!
If I was a betting man I would have lost a bundle on Katrina Kaif making it big in Bollywood. She showed up a few years back - half British, half Indian - not able to speak Hindi worth a damn - like an orphan in a storm. Her buoy was Salman Khan who grabbed her after his Aish fiasco and paraded her around Mumbai like a prize cocker spaniel. With his clout he was able to get his girlfriend into some films in which she looked quite awkward I thought and I figured she would be gone before my dinner was digested - but in fact she has become a big star with a number of box office successes. So I admit to knowing nothing. And she has thankfully outgrown Salman like a bad haircut and moved on. So good for her.
The best actress in India? Almost by universal accord it is Kokona Sen Sharma. She began her career in what is termed the "parallel cinema" of India - i.e. films with no musical numbers. You may know her for Amu, which had a small theatrical release in the states or Mr. and Mrs. Iyer which received huge accolades for its story about two people caught up in a Hindi-Muslim communal riot. But she made the move eventually to Bollywood films, while still keeping one foot outside in "parallel" films.
Most of you HK film fans must recall Mallika Sherawat for her short but memorable part in Jackie Chan's The Myth back a few years. At that time she was topic number one in the Bollywood rags, but they have moved on to some degree to new actresses coming down the turnpike. Whether deserved or not, Mallika got a reputation of being a cute nitwit who exposed much more cleavage than talent - but cleavage usually works for me.
Finally for today, another actress who is just on the scene who I know nothing about other than what I read on the Internet - she started off making films in the Tamil and Telugu industries before coming to Bollywood and having a big hit in an Aamir Khan produced film - Jaane Tu . . . Ya Jaane Na. I just like her waifish anime doll look - something you don't see a lot of in Bollywood.
But what is so weird about these films are they are really one film - only one is in color and has a taller leading man. It's the exact same film - the exact same script - the same everything. Talk about lazy and trying to cash in on a classic - because the first one is highly recommended if you haven't seen it - a true Hollywood classic adventure romance film that is dashing and heroic - that old fashioned stiff upper lip duty thing - a man has to do what a man has to do - and Coleman and Carroll send off real sparks. Coleman was a huge star back in the 1930's but seems largely forgotten these days - but I love his clipped British accent, his restrained acting style and a sense of real decency in films like Tale of Two Cities, Lost Horizon, Random Harvest, The Talk of the Town and If I Were King.