Okay, I promise to take it easy on Bollywood for a little while after this. Well, at least until the global opening of Shah Rukh Khan’s New Year’s Day on October 28, so I’ll take it easy for about two weeks. But it occurred to me that it is hard to make a persuasive argument in favor of Bang Bang! based on star power if you are not familiar with its stars, Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif. If you’re not familiar with their films, be prepared to hang out with some beautiful people doing beautiful things in beautiful settings while they sing and dance for you.
Our goal for these Quick Picks / Artists of the Week is not only to encourage you to explore films, directors and stars who might be off of your radar, but also make sure you’re aware of streaming resources beyond Netflix. To flesh out this week’s list, we will use two resources we haven’t previously provided primary links to: Google Play and Eros Now. While Netflix has significantly increased its Bollywood collection, Google Play has been my go-to choice for more recent titles that are not on Netflix, usually at a reasonable rental price (though I did go ahead and purchase both Dhoom 3 and Krrish 3). I never used to use Google Play for movies until the introduction of the Chromecast, which makes watching films on televisions much easier (but it did take them a while to figure out some subtitle snags on my copy of Jab Tak Hai Jann). I used to watch the free movies available on Eros Now quite a bit, until they took away the free subtitles(!). You would probably have to be a committed fan to subscribe to Eros Now, but you can also rent many individual titles on demand (with subtitles, of course).
I first saw Roshan in Dhoom 2 (2006) , and I’m still convinced that he’s the reason #2 is the best film in that trilogy. As I mentioned in my Bang Bang! review, Rohan is a pure entertainer, and he commits himself fully to whatever he is asked to do.
His other trilogy, which includes the recent Krrish 3, is a bit more confusing because there is neither a Krrish 1 nor 2. The trilogy begins with Koi…Mil Gaya (2003), in which Roshan plays Rohit, a developmentally challenged man who is given super-powers by a visiting E.T.-like alien. In the sequel, Krrish (2006), he plays Rohit’s son Krishna, who has managed to inherit some of his fathers and becomes a masked superhero. Some may justifiably object to the broad portrayal of Rohit in the series, but there’s never any doubt that Roshan gives his all in each of the films. That said, beginners might want to start with the most recent film, Krrish 3.
I’m disappointed that I can’t easily point you to the experiment that produced two films for two different audiences. Kites (2010) was re-cut for international audiences (by Brett Ratner!) as Kites: The Remix. Both versions used to be available on Netflix, so it is possible that they will both return there in the future, but for now only Kites: The Remix is easily available. When I double checked the Madison Public Library database, however, it does appear that some of their copies are the “Bollywood Version.”
Roshan is also known for his radial polydactyly, or extra thumb, on his right hand. In most films until recently this has been hidden using various techniques, but Bang Bang! is unique in displaying it prominently in his opening scene: he repeatedly flips the stolen Kohinoor diamond with his right hand.
The following is not a complete filmography, but these titles provide easy starting points to introduce you to Roshan’s body of work.
What’s interesting to me about Kaif is that I hadn’t realized how many of her films I had seen until I looked her up after seeing her in Dhoom 3 last year. Now I realize that I first saw her in the comedy Singh is Kinng (2008); if you’re not familiar with how broad (yet charming) Bollywood comedy can be, this might be a good starting point for you, too. (Singh is Kinng is also well known for Snoop Dogg’s contribution to the soundtrack.) I had also seen her in Ek Tha Tiger (2012) which is a reasonably good actioner with Salman Khan. And I still haven’t finished watching her in my copy of Jab Tak Hai Jaan (also 2012, they keep ’em busy in Bollywood) with Shah Rukh Khan. So she has been in several recent blockbusters, including this week’s Bang Bang!
I’ve mentioned my general disappointment with Dhoom 3, but Kaif herself did not disappoint. Her big showcase scene is an audition set to the song “Kamli” (see embedded video below). Dhoom 3 is still worth a look, especially since it is currently available on Netflix. In fact, you’ll find that several of Kaif’s more recent films listed below are currently on Netflix, so you might want to start at the end of this list and work your way back if you’re a Netflix subscriber.
Again, this is not a complete Kaif filmography, but it should provide you a good introduction to her body of work.