Saturday, September 23, 2006

On watching The Devil Wears Prada

Ron and I (oooh look, even I have friends with hip names) went and watched The Devil Wears Prada this afternoon and had the most wonderful time. Clothes were ooohd and aaahd over and bad-boss stories were exchanged in a beautifully therapeutic experience.

We were both glad we hadn't taken the men along, I because of a couple of reasons:

1. R just wouldn't have got the clothes or the labels or why they were so important. He wouldn't have seen how the heroine looked different after she got a makeover. He would so totally have blanked out on the references to the big fashion names and probably thought Karl Lagerfeld referred to a brand of bottled beer.

2. We have finally acquired the car and he is totally convinced we are on the brink of everlasting penury, so I would have had to do without the popcorn and soft drinks or had popcorn and soft drinks plus long lecture on better financial management.

I don't know how many of you have read the book by Lauren Weisberger. My advice is don't, just go watch the film. This is one rare instance of the film bettering the book by a long, long margin. This of course has a lot to do with the fact that this is fashion you are dealing with, and in the book you just don't get enough of it. While the visual factor is obviously lacking, you also realise that the author is being extremely snooty and derisive about fashion (one reason her book got terrible reviews from a lot of New York critics), while the film maintains a nice balance between being derisive and a little, just the right bit, worshippy.

The characters too are much better etched out in the film. The heroine, Andy Sachs, is a whiny creature in the book, one whose problems you cease to empathise with after a little while. In the film, she's smarter and spunkier. And then there's the Boss from Hell herself -- Miranda Priestly (not-at-all loosely fashioned after Vogue editor Anna Wintour), played by a magnificent Meryl Streep. Her character's much more well-rounded and believable in the film -- in the book she's just this cardboard ogre-figure.

And the clothes, oh the sumptuous, delicious, utterly amazingly beautiful clothes. And, oh, the even more wonderful accessories. You know what they say about building your look around a necklace? This film does it with such style and aplomb (and here one can't help but make unfavourable comparisons with supposed fashion editor Preity Zinta's wardrobe in KANK).

I don't think I've ever revealed this, but I love fashion (though you would never know it to see me, it's that well-kept a secret). On the ride back home (in my new car) I daydreamed of heading Indian Vogue whenever it is launched and even contemplated adding R's surname to mine because I think it would make my name sound a little more glamorous and got a little angry with the parents for lumping me with such a very unglamorous name. But at the end I had decided it (my name) had just the right hint of mystique, so the Vogue guys wouldn't really have anything to complain about.

But more on that later. My name merits a post (maybe multiple ones) on itself and we shall save it for the day I hear the 108th version of it (we're on 88). Meanwhile, do watch this fun, frivolous, completely enjoyable film -- even if women's fashion is not exactly a passion. The man sitting next to me seemed to be enjoying it thoroughly too and I actually heard him thank his girlfriend for making him watch it and I'm really, really not making this up to teach R a lesson for dumping his wife in the middle of a Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Once more, Munnabhai

What a brilliant, funny, touching, complete film this is to be sure! I watched it this weekend, late enough not to feel that I should do a full analysis that does justice to its utter brilliance, but I can only say that half-way through the film I was pumping my fists in the air and exclaiming how this is SUCH a slap in the face of all those directors who've been making silly and mediocre films for the last half century because 'the audience demands it' and because 'we can't make art films, who would watch them?'

I am glad to report that Hindi cinema has finally caught on to the fact that you can turn out a well-made, stylish, tight and totally absorbing film staying right within the limits of your genre. So DCH and Bluffmaster did it as well, but neither of these (and these are just two out of the top of my mind) had the universal appeal of a Lage Raho Munnabhai. [Digression: One point in favour of watching films at Rex as opposed to PVR: people clap, cheer and whistle and you can join right in.]

Only jarring note in the film: Vidya Balan's simpers and smiles (the woman is an Aishwarya Rai in the making). And her 'Good Moooorrrrning Mumbai' that made me feel intensely uncomfortable and extremely sorry for people in Bombay because I suspect that all radio jockeys in the city will now imitate her and imagine waking up to that day after day...

I suspect the likes of Subhash Ghai have already stopped churning out their half-baked melodramas out of sheer insecurity and this should keep them halted for another half century or so. Amen.

P.S. I was eager to see how they would explain away the last film's ending. In spite of Hirani's claims that this was a completely new film with just the same lead characters, I was a bit sceptical about how the audience would react to seeing Munnabhai single again and wooing another woman etc. Needless to say, what they've done is the only way it could have been done, underscoring the core of thought behind this zany caper of a film. Using those two lines from the previous film's hit song Mamu (Ek kahani khatam to dooji shuru ho gayi mamu) was a stroke of genius, I say.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Silly pic

I've been tagged for that silly pig thing by Kung Fu Master (among other things) Samit Basu. I've hitherto been photonymous on this blog, but do not see why I should remain so. I mean, I'm not exactly writing the diary of a London call girl or anything even remotely scurrilous (interesting) here. So here goes:

Time: June 2005

Place: Royal Selangor Pewter factory, somewhere outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Why: Don't ask me. Possibly to save self from passing out out of sheer boredom after being taken through entire pewter factory and having to feign interest in dainty little ladies fashioning dainty little cufflinks out of (just imagine!) pewter. (My only brush with pewter till then had been the fact that Hogwarts students use pewter cauldrons in their first year, a fact that the savvy Royal Selangor guys were aware of since it was up with a bunch of other trivia about this wonder metal or alloy or whatever on a wall.)

What I would change about it: Photoshop the paunch.

And I tag: Ron, Our resident Poet, Rimi, Priya, The Cowlick and Lahar.