COMRADES: Almost A Love Story / 甜蜜蜜 / Tián Mì Mì – 1996 Hong Kong Film Review


images (1)

Rating : A perfeeeeect 10 out of 10

Why? Because Comrades: Almost A Love Story is exactly a tale of love, survival, ambitions, relationships, isolation and hard decisions moulded into a blissful yet intense two-hour watch. Directed by Peter Chan (who is so in my radar now), many critics hailed the pairing of Leon Lai and Maggie Cheung as lovers. 

The story, like all other stories, starts off pretty simply. During the 1980s, Hong Kong was an up and rising economic powerhouse in Asia. It attracted many Chinese Mainlanders (a term to describe those who came from China) who migrated there for employment and success, indicating that there was a lack of opportunities back home.

Our hero, Li Xiao Jun was a naive Northerner who could only converse in Mandarin and moved to Hong Kong to earn money and had a fiance back home, Xiao Ting. He lived in a house with his aunt, who was actually running a brothel, and several other Thai sex workers. Even though his life was hard due to the language problem, Xiao Jun worked very hard, starting from the bottom as a delivery guy for a butcher shop.

images (2)

But really… Is there a delivery man as good looking as Leon Lai on earth? Like… really???ti109685_large

He, then, formed a friendship with Li Qiao, a tough young woman who came from southern China and seemed to be more well-versed about Hong Kong then he was. She spoke Cantonese like a Hong Konger, behaved like a Hong Konger and even thought like a Hong Konger. Working at McDonald’s, Li Qiao earned extra money with any possible manner ie selling Teresa Teng’s cassettes, finding Mainlanders to attend her friend’s English classes and working as a cleaner. She was obsessed, obsessed and obsessed about money.

Their completely different personalities bound them together as two poor immigrants in the bustling and hectic city of Hong Kong. Li Qiao had a tough heart and no-nonsense attitude. Alone in Hong Kong, she met Xiao Jun, who offered her unconditional kindness and friendship.


Comrades-Almost-a-Love-Story (1)

They spent a lot of time together, being each other’s only friend. The only reason they did not officially become a couple was that Xiao Jun had a fiancee, to whom he wrote letters very frequently. 

Then, Li Qiao and Xiao Jun had sex. From best friends, they became best friends who were sexually involved. Things seemed to carry on quite normally until Li Qiao realized that Xiao Jun had placed her the same importance and affection as his fiancee. She knew that what they were doing was wrong and cut things off. 

Li Qiao moved on and dated a rich gangster, opened up a business and rekindled their friendship after Xiao Jun’s marriage to Xiao Ting, his fiancee who moved to Hong Kong to be with him. Despite being committed to two different people, they were unable to forget their past and declared their love, determined to be together. However, tragedy struck and Li Qiao was compelled to leave Hong Kong in support of her gangster boyfriend and started a new life in another country. 

Xiao Jun’s wife divorced him after his confession on the affair. Xiao Jun also moved overseas and worked as a chef. It was years later that our lovers’ fates finally intertwined in an open ending. Did they end up together? Hehe, I’d rather choose the happy ending and say that they did. 

THE FILM MADE ME CRY. No kidding. And I was not expecting that. I found the film randomly in Youtube and watched it because I hold Maggie Cheung in a very high regard as an actress. Plus, I was curious to see how her pairing with Leon Lai will work out. Their chemistry together is phenomenal, times 1000.

images (3)

I was absorbed in their emotional dependency support for each other, their innocence and loneliness, their conversations, the rides they had on the bicycles and their trips to the ATM machine every time they received their salaries. They were two young people, seemingly lost amid the drowning reality of Hong Kong, trying to build up a life. It was a love story at its best. They ended up together even when they were not supposed to. Like Li Qiao said to Xiao Jun, life depends on your goals and dreams. Li Qiao had achieved her dream of having businesses, Xiao Jun achieved his by being a successful chef. Both were in great relationships. Yet, their hearts pined for each other, still. 


Can I just mention how endearing Leon Lai is as Xiao Jun? As a nephew, he is filial. As a friend, he is helpful, kind and patience. As a lover, he is selfless, gentle and considerate. In short, he is perfect. WAIT, even ‘perfect’ is an understatement. Please, God, give me a man like Li Xiao Jun and I will never let him go!! 

The music of Teresa Teng also plays a huge role in this film. The Chinese title, Tian Mi Mi is one of Teresa’s songs and our couple loved humming to the song while riding on the bicycle and after having sex. Li Qiao was an ardent fan of Teresa Teng and sold her cassettes as a part time endeavour. Li Qiao herself is a very interesting character to watch in this film. Underneath that harsh straightforward manner she displayed, I’d like to think that her love for Teresa Teng’s songs represented her softer side. She could have been gentler if life was a bit nicer to her. Yet, unlike the innocent Xiao Jun, Li Qiao was often in a survival mode, her mind set to make money as much as possible. Teresa Teng’s music made the film a much sweeter journey for me as it serves as a stark contrast to the city-centred cinematography of the film.

Ahhhh…. If you love a great love story, Comrades: Almost A Love Story is a must-watch. Let me just repeat that – a must must must watch!! The after-effects of the film stayed with me for almost a week, making me smile just thinking about how sweet and beautiful the relationship between Li Qiao and Xiao Jun was. 

*am now listening to Tian Mi Mi by Teresa Teng non-stop… Her voice is very sweet, I can cry!!*

Hasee Toh Phasee (2014) : Bollywood Film Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

Parineeti Chopra

Parineeti Chopra might not look like a typical Bollywood heroine but dude, she can act and she is brilliant in delivering her emotion on screen. I have been her Number 1 fan since I watched Ishaaqzade. Parineeti’s Portrayal as a Muslim girl named Zoya in that film is powerful and she did receive a special mention in the National Film Award of India. It is a kind of big deal in India to receive such award. For someone who don’t even go to acting school and graduated with triple Honours Degree (in Business, Finance and Economics) that’s not slightly related to performance act, you got to give her a big respect. She drew people’s attention in Ladies vs Ricky Bahl’s Film. Although that film didn’t went crazy in Box Office India, people did remember her as one of the ladies. One of the film critics said that Parineeti managed to engage with her audience causing the other ladies in the film seems so forgettable. She did win several awards as a newcomer in Bollywood for her role in the film. After ladies vs Ricky Bahl and Ishaaqzade, Parineeti then continue experimenting with her role by acting as a modern, independent and liberal girl in the film of ‘Shuddh Desi Romance’. She was amazing in that film. As someone who kind of not really give a shit about marriage and thought sex as one of the necessity things to have, her role reflected more or less of whom I really wanted to be.

My Rating: 4/5
My Rating: 4/5

Hasee Toh Phasee is a film that I really look forward to watch in 2014 (aside from Gulaab Gang, Roy and Kil Dil). Parineeti said in her interview that this film offered a very challenging role to her. She did face difficulty doing the role, she admitted that. Of course, if you have seen her work before, you will not plant any doubt about her. She’s going to do it flawlessly. I am right, by the way. She nailed her role successfully. A critical reception over that film is totally leaned on the Parineeti’s performance as Meeta Solanki. I always love the fact that Parineeti can easily blend her chemistry with any co-actors that she ever worked with and she don’t let them over shine her. She let her acting flow and keeps the audience’s eyes fixated on her. In other words, you may remember who the hero was in the films, but you will end up telling people how amazing the heroine in that film. Her previous co-actors like Arjun Kapoor, Sushant Singh Rajput and Sidharth Malhotra is really blessed to have a charismatic personality and strong presence. Otherwise, we may end up not remembering any of Parineeti’s co actors at all. *exaggerated much, Palah?

Meeta and Nikhil first meeting 7 years ago
Meeta and Nikhil first meeting 7 years ago

How difference is Hasee Toh Pahsee with other contemporary romance Bollywood is? Gosh, I don’t even know how to begin. First, the portrayal of Parineeti Chopra as Meeta Solanki is a top notch act. Meeta Solanki is a smart girl with a vision. She ran away from home right after she stole one of her sister’s Dowries for the wedding. Upon that event, her father had a heart attack on that day. Since then, nobody even said her name, her absent as one of the daughters in Solanki family goes unnoticed and she is forever shunned by her family. She earned her PhD in Chemical Engineering after living in abroad for almost 7 years and currently in need of fund to complete her project. In this story, Meeta Solanki is shown to always has a special spot in her father’s heart. The story begins with how the young Meeta always experimented with many things and ended up seen as troublesome kid by the mess she created. She always being scolded by her uncle but her father embraced her playfulness and curiosity over things. He didn’t get angry and always approve of her youngest daughter brightness. Meeta grew up in the conservative culture (though she did has a father who is willing to bend any rule for her). She constantly is being told by her uncle that she didn’t behave like a girl her age and does not even look like a girl at all. Adding to the pressure on Meeta that she has other sisters who look like a normal and ordinary Indian girl. Meeta return to India after 7 years abroad and ask his sister, Karishma Solanki to help her reconcile with her father. She wanted to apologize to her father.

Karisma Solanki (portrayed by Adah Sharma)
Karisma Solanki (portrayed by Adah Sharma)

Karishma Solanki is portrayed by Adah Sharma as one of Meeta’s sisters. She does not want to handle Meeta at all as she already is in so much pressure for her upcoming wedding. She will get married to Nikhil Bhardwaj (by Sidharth Malhotra) in a few days and Meeta is seen as someone who could not get a better time to return. She couldn’t take a risk that Meeta might have other scheme to steal in the wedding as she already done it before. She called her fiancée, Nikhil to solve this matter by himself. She didn’t even tell who meeta is for her. She just wanted Nikhil to do whatever he could to make Meeta didn’t come to her house before and during the wedding. Karishma portrayal by Adah Sharma is pretty much okay. I have nothing to like or hate about her. She is a bombshell girl that guys could go crazy over. Her relationship with Nikhil started as love (I am quite confident that it’s a lust actually) at the first sight. After 7 years, they still are together. I am pretty sure that they are not in love. They just love the 7 years relationship and how much they complete each other. If you are pretty like Karishma, you don’t really say no if a guy like Nikhil chase you, right? You would just say okay and see how far the relationship will take you. When this happened, it causes so much misery in their relationship. They fought almost every day and then, they make up. The same routine repeats itself each day. Both are afraid to break up because they may not have chance to find a perfect companion again. Perfect here meant ‘good looking, rich and came from a good family’.

Nikhil Bhardwaj (Portrayed by Sidharth Malhotra)
Nikhil Bhardwaj (Portrayed by Sidharth Malhotra)

Nikhil met Meeta for the first time in a café somewhere around the town where he lived. Karishma told Nikhil to handle it however he likes. She didn’t even introduce Meeta as her sister to Nikhil and keep referring her as a guest. Nikhil suddenly remembered that he met Meeta 7 years ago at the wedding where he and Karishma hit on each other for the first time. They met when Meeta try to elope and her shirt is hooked on the coil wire. Nikhil then help Meeta escaped from it and asked Meeta where she’s running off. Meeta told Nikhil the location and he helped her carried her baggages until some taxi stopped to send her to airport. That’s how they met 7 years before. Nikhil met Meeta first before Karishma. However, Meeta’s appearance and facial expression recently is really weird and it freaks Nikhil out. It turns out later that Meeta have a tendency to swallow many anti depressant pills to keep her stable, well functions and to avoid from facing any complicated emotion naturally. Later, Nikhil found out that Meeta is Karishma youngest sister. He could not bear the fact that Meeta is treated that way and brought her to his home. Meeta is introduced as one of friends from Nikhil’s best buddy. Nikhil learned so many things about Meeta and the truth behind why she steals from the wedding 7 years ago. The more time they spend time with each other, the more they realized that they did fall in love with each other. Meeta confessed her love to Nikhil and asking him to elope with her because she assured that Nikhil will be miserable in life by marrying to her sister. However, Nikhil couldn’t do it as it will be a betrayal to Karishma and they did spend 7 years try to maintain the relationship.

Meeta 2.0 by Parineeti Chopra
Meeta 2.0 by Parineeti Chopra

This film seriously began with how hilarious parineeti’s face when she made her ‘Meeta 2.0’ as Nikhil would call it. Meeta 2.0 will appear right after the normal Meeta swallow a dozen of her anti depressant pills. You will laugh your ass off. When it reaches to the scene when Meeta bumped into her relatives, that’s when you realize there’s tears streaming down your cheek. When Meeta was insulted by her sister and uncle for coming home just to rob them again, you can sense her helplessness. She could not explain why she did it and even she wanted to, nobody would fucking listen. When her uncle slapped infront of her relatives that is when her father appeared. Her father cried and asked why her daughter is being hit. The scene of how Meeta’s father defended her infront of her entire family is so touching. He didn’t care about the money that Meeta stole from him as he claimed it did belong to her at some point. Meeta is his daughter. This particular scene really breaks my heart. It showed how a father didn’t care at all about the money and just glad that his daughter returns to home. The wedding event proceeds as usual even Meeta begged Nikhil not to do it. Meeta then said goodbye to her father on Karishma’s wedding day and planning to return to China to complete her project. Karishma found out about the two of them and confronted Nikhil about it. She told Nikhil that marriage would not be the same as the relationship. There is no on and off relationship. When Karishma called off the marriage, Nikhil run from the altar only to find that Meeta already waited for him at the back gate where they first met before.

Suprise Event for Karishma Solanki went wrong!
Their Chemistry is really good actually!! ;D
Last but not least, topless scene by Sidharth Malhotra. Woot2.

Actually, Meeta did return to India to get more funds for her project from her father. For Meeta, she had one principle only. She will steal but only from her father. She knew her father will forgive her unconditionally. She then regrets it when she knew that the day she stole from her father, her father’s having a heart attack. That’s why she asked Nikhil assistance in the first place. They are spending so much time together on planning how to get more funds. In that few days, they realized that they loves each other. There is one scene that I found very sweet is when Nikhil disturbed Meeta’s father in the middle of the night. It’s later revealed that Meeta’s really missing her father and wanted to see him even from afar. That’s when Nikhil wake Meeta’s father up and asking him to go on the rooftop with him. Nikhil acted as he was concerned about the wedding and the groom procession. Meeta did catch a glimpse of her father on rooftop with Nikhil’s help. I actually like Sidharth more in this film compare to student of the year film. Sidharth in this film is more mature and revealing his other side of being an actor. He’s insecure, depress in the sense of wanting to make more money, coward in voicing his opinion (even when he’s right) and he’s afraid to follow his own path. All his life, he always is being told to do this and that. Parineeti may contributes ¾ for this film but Sidharth completed it with ¼ from his role. Their chemistry as Meeta and Nikhil really touch the core of my heart.

Overall, this could be my new favorite romantic film all the time after Barfi. It got all the right flavors in some romantic film could not offer. The soundtrack of the film is just awesome. I really like modern beat hindi songs. I like all songs in this film (from Manchala (which is freaking sad song) to a very sassy and feisty sound like ‘Shake it like shammi’, ‘Punjabi Wedding Song’ and ‘Drama Queen’).

The Deep Blue Sea (2011)

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

Freddie & Hester
Freddie & Hester

‘I love you but I’m sorry we can’t be together’.

Among all the phrases of love that I’ve heard, this is one phrase that I am unable to understand. If you truly love me, why in the seven hells we can’t be together? I find it beyond my comprehension to understand how leaving someone you love can make him/her to be happy for the rest of their life. I just don’t get it. (am sorry for being so emotional!! haha)

The deep blue sea told the story of Hester (who is a married woman) is having an affair with Freddie (an ex pilot during World War 2). They still continued having an affair even William (Hester’s husband) knew about it. William may not grant Hester a divorce but he let Hester live with Freddie as he made it clear he does not want to see her wife’s face anymore. Hester somehow compared her dilemma with someone caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. She loves her husband, William but the passion and physical intimacy was not there anymore. He could not provide her that. Freddie, on the other hand, capable to ignite the passion and the burning love inside Hester but he’s not emotionally stable. He was always angry and sometimes lashing it out on Hester.

My Rating: 4/5
My Rating: 4/5

William, after a while, begged Hester to stop the infatuation and plead her to return to him. He after all would make Hester comfortable and never in a million years would make her cry. Hester insisted that she loves Freddie and told William that being with Freddie make her a whole person. Hester tried to kill herself when Freddie forgot her birthday and she failed as it was discovered by her neighbor. Freddie knew about it when he finds out suicide note that Hester wrote to him. That was when Freddie felt that their relationship is unhealthy. Freddie felt he and Hester are lethal to each other. He then dumped Hester and took a job in Rio.

As much as I would want to believe this is a timeless love story, for me, it is not. Why? Love is a bit of both, you enjoy emotional comfort and support and you feel the passion and the fluttering feelings in yourself. You felt safe with him and being yourself is what defined your relationship with your lover. In this case, Hester had to compromise and sometimes end up crying because of Freddie’s rudeness and indifferent towards her. Sure, she felt alive being with Freddie but where is the feeling that ‘when you are together, that is where your home is’. For me, what happened between Freddie and Hester only a passion encounter. Hester can’t resist Freddie’s charm and she was intoxicated by him. Freddie too felt the same way about Hester. For me, it’s a pure lust story. Judging from William’s age and look, we all can understand why Hester cheated on him.

William & Hester
William & Hester

There’s nothing wrong about that. Sometimes, I think people deserve to take a break in their marriage especially those who already married in 10 years and above. However, this is my opinion. I don’t know how you guys think about a passion encounter, maybe it’s sinful, maybe it’s wrong but we are human, for god sake. We are bound to make mistakes.