AoM Shorts Collection Volume 3 (3rd Quarter 2005)

Various - Director / Various - Music

Various - Lyrics / Running time: Several hours lots of minutes

Own them!

Hello everyone! Once again it's time for a collection of shorts. As with the other collections, these are all films that would rate very highly if subjected to the usual routine here at Army of Monkeys. However, I would rather you enjoy the stories first-hand with these selections, so this will just be a little introduction to each! Here we go!

Devdas (2002) (Own it!)

Based on a 1917 novella by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay, Devdas is actually the third cinematic version of the same tale. As of the time of its creation, it was the record holder for being the most expensive Indian movie to date. I'm not up on the business side of things, so I'm not sure if this record has been surpassed. In any case, the cash spent on this movie shows. I've never seen such elaborate sets and costumes, and the production is extremely elegant and well-made. I'm also thinking a fair amount of the bankroll went to our cast, as we have a few big names on display here. Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, and good old Jackie Shroff are all here to tell this tragic tale.

The story of Devdas is that of two childhood friends, separated for a decade, and finally being reunited. Devdas (SRK) is a wealthy son that has been sent off to England for his education, while Paro (Aishwarya Rai) remains at home, anxiously awaiting the return of her dear friend. There is an unfortunate incident between them, and their original plans of marriage go awry. Paro is married off to a wealthy family, forever beyond the grasp of Devdas. He seeks solace in alcohol, under the concerned and compassionate eye of Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit), a prostitute in a brothel where Devdas starts spending a lot of time. He doesn't indulge himself, but merely seeks to waste away.

It's not a particularly cheery movie, but it is gorgeous in its spectacle. The look of the sets, the detail of the costumes, and the thunderous musical numbers are all amazing. I'd recommend this one for all of those reasons.

Saathiya (2002) (Own it!)

Saathiya ("companion") is also a remake, but not of a classic novel. The original film (Alai Payuthe) was done in the Tamil language, and was remade a few years later into its Hindi incarnation. In this version, we have a welcome visit from Rani Mukherjee, and a new face on AoM - Vivek Oberoi.

One of the main reasons I enjoyed this film so much was that it started with what I'm learning is a fairly typical Bollywood romance. Aditya (Vivek Oberoi) meets Suhani (Rani Mukherjee) at a wedding by chance, and is immediately smitten with her. After the expected trials and wooing of her, he does manage to win her over. The parents of the families cause problems when they attempt to arrange a husband for Suhani, forcing the two lovebirds to marry in secret, and continue living separately with their parents. Eventually they get a place of their own and all seems to be going smoothly.

This is the point where a lot of these love stories end. However we've got a long way to go with this one. We see the pressures and stress of their lives bearing down on them, forcing them to make some difficult choices and sacrifices. I won't go into the ending here, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a (quite frankly) more realistic look at newlyweds getting the kinks ironed out, and how they learn to be a married couple, not just crazy lovers. Keep your eyes open for a big name cameo towards the end!

Sholay (1975) (Own it!)

Sholay ("flames") is one of the classics of Indian cinema. It's got a great mix of humor, action, romance, and tragedy, and is completely entertaining throughout. It also introduced us to a truly despicable, and therefore excellent, villain.

The main plot is not entirely new to most moviegoers. We have a rough-and-tumble duo of small-time crooks, Jaidev (played by Amitabh Bachchan) and Veeru (played to the hilt by Dharmendra). They have a run-in with the law, in the form of a feisty and determined policeman, Baldev Singh (played by Sanjeev Kumar). The two of them do time, and are eventually released. They are sent for by their old nemesis to come and drive a seedy criminal from his small rural town, since he knows they are the only two tough enough to get the job done. During their mission, Veeru is smitten with the constantly talking Basanti (Hema Malini) and all sorts of romantic troubles pop up to complicate an already dicey situation. Once the truly evil Gabbar Singh (Amjad Khan) is revealed, the kid gloves come off, and it's a very exciting fight to the finish.

I was hesitant to even do a short article about this film, as it is something of a phenomenon in India. Anything more I say about it has probably already been said, so I'll just leave it at this: It's definitely worth seeing.

Tehzeeb (2003) (Own it!)

Tehzeeb ("etiquette") was a film I purchased solely due to the fact that Urmila Matondkar was in it. As fate would have it, it turned out to be a good movie. Of note, this show also features Arjun Rampal, whom we've also seen in Asambhav, but I am pleased to report that this is a far, far better movie.

The story of Tehzeeb is one of family matters. Rukhsana Jamal (Shabana Azmi) is one of the most successful singers of the era, with many hit records and fans hailing from all corners of the world. After the scandal that erupts following the mysterious death of her husband, Anwar (a cameo by Rishi Kapoor, as seen in Yeh Hai Jalwa) her bond with her two daughters, Tehzeeb and Nazo is weakened. Due to Rukhsana's demanding schedule and lifestyle, she is not able to spend much time with her daughters. Time goes forward, and we rejoin the family some twenty years later. Nazo has a mental condition rendering her about the mental age of a child, and she lives with Tehzeeb and her husband Salim (Arjun Rampal). Their lives seem to be going smoothly, until mother drops in for a visit. There is a ton of drama caused by this trip, as well as a look into the past to get to the truth behind the death of Anwar.

All told, this is a good movie with many nice songs and terrific performances from all cast members. A solid movie all around.

This brings us to a close for the third volume of The Shorts. As always, there are plenty more articles in the works, so please stop by again soon!