Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley (NOW PLAYING)

Droll and delicious, Miss Bennet Christmas at Pemberley is a charming, confectionary celebration of fan favorite characters from Pride and Prejudice, multi-generationally honoring the legacy of Jane Austen’s humor, playfulness and wit in a warm-spirited holiday theatrical production. –Gia Jun, DCMetroTheater Arts.com

This holiday tale is a MUST-SEE for Jane Austen fans in the metro DC area!  It can be seen until DEC 23rd at the Round House Theatre in Bethesda, MD.  My parents and I went last SUN afternoon; it was one of their pay what you can (PWYC) performances.  The fun, yet still true to the spirit of Austen, story was written by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon (two friends/collaborators who have many works under their belts individually). There is only one set, BUT it has sections where various actions takes place.  The costumes look true to the times and very beautiful.    

The time is two years after the end of Pride and Prejudice.  A Christmas tree (a spruce) has been brought inside the house by an excited Elizabeth, which is (at first) quite surprising to the more traditional Mr. Darcy.  It’s a new German custom, she explains, and he quickly agrees that it should stay in the main drawing room. We learn that eldest Bennett sister, Jane, and the still-doting Mr. Bingley (Brandon McCoy, Eli from The Who and The What) are soon to be parents.  Vivacious youngest sis Mrs. Lydia Wickham is ALSO spending this Christmas at Pemberley (oh boy, watch out)! 

Mary, the middle sister of the Bennett family, has grown into quite an young lady.  She is intelligent, VERY observant, and brings interesting points to every conversation.  Lately, Mary has been wondering about her future life, aside from her pianoforte and the books in her father’s library.  However, her choices are limited in this time/society! 

Vaughan’s Arthur is a bumbling scene-stealer, emerging despite his endearing social awkwardness as a young man of principle and deep feeling. His partner in earnest geekiness is Kleiger’s Mary, possessed of a disciplined mind and a restless heart.  -Jayne Blanchard, DCTheaterScene.com

We are introduced to Arthur (a new character, NOT found in Austen) who is the nephew of Lady Catherine de Bourgh and cousin to Mr. Darcy.  Arthur is a 25 y.o. who studies at Oxford and is NOT the best at socializing.  Mary and Arthur seem like they could be a great couple!  However, there are a FEW obstacles to overcome first.   

Follow the link below to learn more!

http://www.roundhousetheatre.org/performances/miss-bennet/

Dear Zindagi (NOW PLAYING)

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Kaira (Alia Bhatt) working behind-the-scenes on a music video.

This is a MUST-SEE film (written/directed by Gauri Shinde) for anyone who has given up on Bollywood, thinking it TOO old-fashioned, formulaic, and obsessed solely w/ romance!  Kaira (Alia Bhatt, who also starred in 2 States) is a cinematographer in her early 20s who finds that avoiding romantic commitment does NOT always bring happiness.  She breaks up w/ her businessman boyfriend.  Then one of the other guys in her life, Raghu (Kunal Kapoor- who I first saw in Aaja Nachle), offers her a “dream job” in NYC.  And we can tell that Raghu wants to be MORE than friends!

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Kaira (Alia Bhatt) jokes with Raghu (Kunal Kapoor)

Kaira’s close friends, including Fatima (Fatty) and Jackie, grow concerned about her changing attitude and personality.  Anger bubbles up out of nowhere, she can’t sleep for MANY nights, and loses her Mumbai apartment (when tenants decide that ONLY married couples should live in their building).  Kaira is forced to go back to her hometown (Goa) and reevaluate her life.  To make things worse, Raghu suddenly gets engaged to his ex-girlfriend after they reconnect on that NYC movie set!

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Kaira meets with her therapist Dr. Khan (Shah Rukh Khan)

Finally, Shah Rukh has chosen a role that is apt for his age. His screen presence is definitely a treat to his fans! Alia Bhatt is definitely lucky in the aspect that she got a good role that aligns with her personality and of course she has excelled it!  -Excerpt from a IMDB review

Enter Dr. Jehangir Khan(Shah Rukh Khan), an psychologist who happens to love ripped jeans (just as Kaira does).  She is VERY reluctant to open up about her life, BUT he gains her trust w/ his patience, unorthodox methods, and (most crucial)- a judgment-free mind. At a beachside bar, Kaira and Jackie meet Rumi (Ali Zafar- who hails from Pakistan), a free-spirited singer/songwriter.  Zafar reminded me of Gael Garcia Bernal; his songs were pretty good, too. 

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Kaira listens intently to Dr. Khan during one of their sessions.

Kaira is eventually able to discuss her friendships (which she needs to pay MORE attention to), past romances (which she cut off when then men got TOO close), and her family (overbearing w/ their traditional expectations).  Aside from the typical pains of life as a young adult, there is something specific in Kaira’s childhood that is holding her back from the life that she wants.  

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Dr. Khan and Kaira sing an impromptu little song

Pluses- story, acting, cinematography; second half, the scenes which feature SRK and Alia. The family moments of Kiara and her family, her friends. The execution of the entire movie from event to event. The whole final act which leaves you in a happy mood. The breakdown sequence. The maturity in the direction which takes the movie into a new level. The dialogue given to SRK. Negatives- The music is good but isn’t great. The editing in the first half could have been better.

-Excerpt from another IMDB review

There were a FEW moments in where I was reminded of In Treatment (HBO), BUT this is an original story which has (probably) never been told in a mainstream Indian film.  Going into therapy is demystified in this film, which I think could be it’s best legacy.  

2 States (2014)

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Book cover and film poster

This rom com (based on the memoir of the same title by Chetan Bhagat)  came out in Spring 2014; I saw it two weeks back.  This is a fun, yet realistic film, that’s NOT only concerned w/ two MBA students falling in love, BUT what comes after (getting to know each other’s families and the drama that ensues).  To add a twist usually NOT seen in mainstream Indian films- Ananya (Alia Bhatt) is from the South; Krish (Arjun Kapoor) hails from the North. 

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Film poster featuring main cast

So, what’s the biggie here- they’re BOTH Hindu, right?  Yes, WE American desis MAY feel that way!  BUT their families who speak different languages and follow different customs, along w/ ALL the typical baggage (which you’d see in a film like Meet the Parents). 

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Chetan and Anusha Bhagat- the real couple behind this film

When they first meet in grad school, Ananya is annoyed that there is no beer at the local café.  Krish explains: “Gujarat is a dry state.”  He gets interested in her first, BUT thinks she’s “out of my league.”  Krish offers to help Ananya w/ Economics (which is her weak subject).  Their friendship quickly grows into love after he declares one night that he doesn’t ONLY want to be her buddy. 

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Ananya (Alia Bhatt) and Krish (Arjun Kapoor)

There are only a FEW songs in this film (which are quite good); you can get them from iTunes.  The music blends pretty well into the actions/emotions.  The students/dancers in the background actually look like real/average people, NOT models.  The run time could’ve been shorter.  I recommend it for ALL of you who wouldn’t usually give Bollywood a chance!