REVIEW: Aisha

Standard

Aisha PosterThe third Jane Austen novel to get the Bollywood treatment (after S&S as Kandukondain Kandukondain and P&P as Bride and Prejudice) is Emma, presented here as Aisha. Aisha is a modern Delhi girl, obsessed with fashion and makeup and with matching up her friends. Wait–haven’t we seen this already, with a blonde girl from Los Angeles? Why, yes, we have. But it’s still fun to see Jane Austen’s story successfully injected into a modern setting.

Like Emma, Aisha begins with a wedding, which Aisha tells us in voiceover she arranged, between her aunt and a ruggedly handsome colonel. (Perhaps he wandered in from S&S. We will never complain about ruggedly handsome colonels, however.) At the wedding, Aisha sees “loser” Randhir spill wine over Shefali, whose aunt brought her from the country to Delhi to find a husband, and she immediately decides it will be a match. Cue a makeover for Shefali, several misunderstandings, and a hilarious episode with pepper spray, and Aisha switches gears to match Shefali with Dhruv, her aunt’s hottie stepson, with whom she just wasn’t able to fall in love. Meanwhile, Aisha argues with Arjun, her annoying neighbor whose brother is married to Aisha’s sister and who likes to tell her to grow up and stop being so shallow; but she is extremely put out whenever Arjuns spends time with Aarti, recently returned to Delhi from New York (and the actress who plays her looks EXACTLY like Angelina Jolie, we mean EXACTLY, could be her twin minus the tattoos, so one can’t really blame her). There is a secret engagement–but probably not the one you’re thinking of–and a borrowed subplot that almost could have come over from P&P.

Like Emma Woodhouse, Aisha learns humility; the girl who, surrounded by friends and family, squeals, “I love my life!” at the beginning of the film learns that her fashionable, fun life is truly meaningless when she alienates those she loves with her interfering ways; but this is shown as a montage with a sad pop ballad played over it, which is a bit shallow itself.

Unlike the previous Bollywood treatments of Austen, there are no musical numbers in which the characters sing and dance, a la the great MGM Hollywood musicals. There is lots of music, but it’s more like background to the characters; more John Hughes than Jane Austen.

We particularly enjoyed Abhay Deol as Arjun, the Mr. Knightley character. He is natural and funny, and only Aisha never seems to figure out that he has very strong feelings for her. Sonam Kapoor is lovely and plays Aisha exactly right–she is shallow, frivolous, fun-loving, and yet sweet and lovable and way smarter than she has shown.

The product placement is egregious and unashamed: the product logos are put right up on the screen in the beginning of the movie with thanks to the companies! And then watch Aisha put on her L’OREAL eyeshadow out of the case with L’OREAL on it and watch the camera follow her every movement as she opens her L’OREAL mascara and daubs her lips with L’OREAL gloss! When Aisha goes through her long dark musical montage of the soul, it is probably significant that her lipstick becomes less glossy and her eyeshadow much lighter, and her false eyelashes seem to disappear completely. But it’s all part of the fashion-conscious scenester of Aisha in the beginning of the film, so it works, but we still found it hilarious, and something that wouldn’t fly in Hollywood without being mocked endlessly.

We also noticed a lot of similarities with Clueless that went beyond the setting. There are scenes that are practically lifted from that movie. Aisha calling Arjun to pick her up when she is stuck in a bad neighborhood with a flat tire; Aisha and Arjun fighting over the TV remote; the gang “sparking up a doobie” and dancing at a party; shopping, hair, makeup, shoes, voiceovers by the lead, it’s all there. It’s almost as if Aisha is an Indian remake of Clueless, rather than an adaptation of Emma, but we guess it’s all the same.

Aisha is sweet and funny, but like Anne Elliot we felt that “There was never any burst of feeling, any warmth of indignation or delight, at the evil or good of others.” We adore Clueless, and while we enjoyed Aisha (and laughed out loud during several scenes), and liked the clothes and the music and the pretty girls and handsome boys, overall we just don’t love Aisha in quite the same way. For Janeites, it’s worth seeing as an object of our mutual obsession, and it is fun and funny, but like the title character, a bit shallow. Don’t expect any Emma-like epiphanies.

P.S. There’s an intermission of about 10 minutes! Really! Haven’t seen one of those in YEARS.

P.P.S. We forgot! There was a KISS! On the LIPS! And two characters made out in a bar! There were gasps from the audience at the first one, but the second didn’t seem to faze anyone. We thought there was no smooching in Bollywood, but we guess no more.

Monday Multimedia: Aisha And Victorians And Amateurs, Oh My! Edition

Standard

Alert Janeite Patsy directed our attention to a new CD of Haydn piano trios, which might certainly have been played by Jane Austen or one of her more accomplished heroines, in which the liner notes mention Jane Austen, the Gothic, and Northanger Abbey. Download or listen to samples at The Classical Shop.

Remember the Jane Austen Fight Club thing that was all over the Internets last week? Some more info is coming out about it. We saw in a few places commenters claiming that it was an amateur work by a bunch of friends, and this post on EW’s Popwatch blog does nothing to dispel that implication.

CSI

Not Really Laurel Ann

However, Intrepid Janeite Reporter Laurel Ann took her CSI kit and prodded around the edges a bit, and discovered some interesting information about the “amateur” production. The young lady profiled in EW, Emily Janice Card, is an actress with several audiobooks on her resume. She also is the daughter of the author Orson Scott Card. So while the video is not as “amateur” as it might have first appeared, it’s still very funny, and we dare say it will help Miss Card in her career. (Also we are really looking forward to Emily Brontë’s American Psycho. “Because that’s what Heathcliff was. Except British.”)

With the impending release of not-at-all-amateur Aisha, there are a lot of new promo videos and articles floating around. Continue reading

A music video from Aisha

Standard

Alert Janeite Deena noted in comments for the Aisha trailer that there is a music video that features scenes from Aisha. Unfortunately we can’t seem to embed the video, so just follow the link!

Aisha Trailer

Standard

We’ve got lots to post but have had a busy couple of weeks, but hope to get caught up very soon! However, Alert Janeite Reeba sent us the trailer for Aisha and we wanted to share it. It’s mostly in Hindi with a few bits of English, but it looks like fun–very much in the vein of an Indian Clueless.

ETA: And thanks to Team Aisha who left us a link to the official site in comments…not much there yet, but Delhi!Hartfield is pretty sweet!

More Aisha Goodies

Standard

Abhay Deol and Sonam Kapoor in AishaIt looks like the preferred spelling will be Aisha. Thanks for settling on it, producers! How do we know that? Because there is now an official Facebook page for the movie, and an official Twitter page, and there is news that the “first look” (meaning the trailer, we guess) for the film will be out on June 9, star Sonam Kapoor’s birthday. Also, Alert Janeite Emma found another publicity shot, which we included in this post.

Ayesha/Aisha Possibly Premiering in June

Standard

Abhay Deol and Sonam Kapoor in AishaFirstly, we really wish they would pick a spelling. First we saw Aisha everywhere, then Ayesha, now we’re back to Aisha? C’mon people. We western barbarians could use a little help.

It looks like Aisha might be premiering as soon as June at IIFA in Sri Lanka on June 3-5, though it is still scheduled for release in August in India. No idea when it will reach Western shores, though we suspect not until it is on DVD.

We boldly borrowed the pic in this post, which is of the two stars, Abhay Deol (Mr. Knightley) and Sonam Kapoor (Aisha/Emma). From the article:

It was Sonam signing on to the project that gave the film the green light, “Sonam instantly saw that as a first person narrative, the film would be a great opportunity to showcase her talent. Sonam has a lively energy, but also a certain darkness, which makes her a good actor. This dichotomy suits Emma’s character since it is heavily layered.”

As for the dashing Mr. Knightely, Ohja thinks Abhay Deol is the perfect person to take on this role, “He is the most secure actor I have met and he didn’t hesitate working in a film with a female protagonist. Abhay perfectly fits the character of the typical British male. He is a guy who can floor a woman, like Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and, in this case, Mr. Knightley of Emma.”

Thanks to Alert Janeites Laurel Ann and Lisa for the info and link.

An interview with Rajshree Ojha, the director of Aisha

Standard

Alert Janeite Cinthia spotted an interview with Rajshree Ojha, the director of Aisha, an adaptation of Emma set in modern-day Delhi. Ms. Ojha started working on the script in 2004, but was unable to find a producer until 2008, because producers felt that the woman-oriented film would not be successful.

Another production house, known for being progressive, told us maybe we should re-write the script to gear it towards an actor they had in mind.

Yikes!

Sonam instantly saw that as a first person narrative, the film would be a great opportunity to showcase her talent. Sonam has a lively energy, but also a certain darkness, which makes her a good actor. This dichotomy suits Emma’s character since it is heavily layered.

We can expect some changes:

here are places where I’ve curtailed the role of certain characters, like that of Emma’s friend Harriet Smith, or combined two characters into one, like the Woodhouse sisters.

Wonder how that will work?

I’ve already handed over the first director’s cut and now it lies in the producers’ hands.

Hopefully that means it will be out soon. We’ve enjoyed the other India-set adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels and are excited to see this one.