Sunday, September 18, 2011

Bodyguard Hindi Movie Review

Bodyguard Hindi Movie ReviewFilm: "Bodyguard"; Cast: Salman Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Raj Babbar; Director: Siddiqu; Rating: ***

For three years now, every Eid, a Salman Khan movie has become one of the rewards of the festival. Whereas last year we had "Dabangg", which despite its simplicity had layers into it, this year we are treated to "The Bodyguard" which isn't a patch on "Dabangg". Despite this, it has enough to hold the attention of festive audiences.

Bodyguard Lovely Singh (Salman Khan) is a nice, honest man of steel who is faithful to Sartaj (Raj Babbar). Sartaj, asks Lovely to guard his daughter Divya (Kareena Kapoor) day and night.

Lovely does his job diligently, but is unawares that Divya serenades him under a pseudonym Chhaya over the phone, and has fallen in love with him. Things get out of control when Sartaj's enemies try to kill Divya while Sartaj thinks Lovely is trying to kidnap his daughter.

"Bodyguard", conceptually, is based on the type of stories that have made Imtiaz Ali popular - sweet, gentle love stories, where the underlying theme being sacrifice for the sake of love. Yet whereas Imtiaz Ali reveals in a certain quaint subtlety despite the melodramatic nature of his films, "Bodyguard" director Siddique does not have that much of skills to pull that off.

The result is a film that has its few funny, slapstick moments but the problem area is the surprise twist in the end. It is an end that does not gel with the pace of the rest of the film and seems cooked up. That is especially true because director Siddique gives no foreshadowing or inclination before of a possibility of a character doing what she does in the end.

However, that would be a problem with urban audiences. As far as rural viewers go, the ending, fantastic as it may be, might actually work for the film. After all isn't there enough elements of fantasy in the rest of the film like when Salman going in the opposite direction in a train, simply jumps on to a running train in another direction. If one can digest that, one can do the same for the ending.

A little more effort on the editing table would have eased a lot of things.

Salman fans, however, have much to cheer. They not only get to see their favourite star beating enemies to pulp, but also get to see his well toned torso, that in the end is revealed after jets of water blow away his shirt, much like the subway wind blew away Marilyn Monroe's skirt.

Debutante Rajat Rawail provides comic relief to the film not just with his antics but also the funny messages on his t-shirts like '6 Pack Coming Soon' pasted over his fat belly.

Salman is his well-chiseled self, and Kareena is as good as the script demands of her, which isn't much. The music is catchy, especially Himmesh Reshamiya composed song "I Love You".

Overall, "Bodyguard" may not have the chutzpah of a "Dabangg", but it pulls itself through to entertain viewers during the festive season.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Murder 2 Movie Review

Murder 2 Movie ReviewFilm: "Murder 2"; Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Prashant Narayanan, Jacqueline Fernandez, Sulagna Panigrahi; Directed by: Mohit Suri; Rating: ***

The sequel to "Murder" is nothing like the first part of the frenetic franchise. And Jacqueline Fernandez who has been built up in "Murder 2" as the next Mallika Sherawat is nothing like the overrated Mallika….Thank God for that! Fernandez exudes an unbridled sunniness even when pouting in the bare minimum. Alas, she doesn't have much to do in "Murder 2" except swathe the dark drama in a spot of sunshine.

God knows this film about the devil-unleashed, surprisingly written by a woman (Shagufta Rafique) needs that little of sunshine. It is a desperately dark film. The characters are wretchedly unhappy. No matter which side of the moral line they are positioned they are standing screaming into the abyss that is suburban life. These people need serious help.

This then, is the world Mahesh Bhatt has bequeathed to us. Take it and bleed it.

Director Mohit Suri who earlier took us on a jolting trip through the world of prostitution, pimps and desperate cops in "Kalyug" takes the same route again. On this occasion the journey is far more ruthless and rigorously implemented to create horror repugnance and hatred for a word that we've created for coming generations.

In the typical Mahesh Bhatt style "Murder 2" doesn't waste time in back-projections and story build-up. He goes straight for the kill. With trenchant immediacy director Mohit Suri (back in "Kalyug" form after the misfire that was his last film "Crook") tells us the story of a psychopathic killer who kills prostitutes with the pleasure that makes your stomach churn and look anxiously towards the future about your daughter who is just stepping into the big wide world.

Who knows if the man sitting next to her in the movie theatre is a closet-nutcase with a collection of hacksaws in his house, and not to carve up the Christmas turkey.

Prashant Narayanan as the psychopath plays the character at such an even pitch he makes your blood freeze in fear and revulsion. Here's a man who could be that ghoul who butchered all those kids in the Nethra killings and then ate them up without a burp.

The 'hero' in "Murder 2" is a burn-out suspended cop who makes money out of criminals, stays sullen and haunted throughout the film except when he goes for the kiss, and offers his girlfriend a wad of notes after making love. To buy the fridge, he says. Naturally the lady freezes.

Force of habit, we say. Hashmi has done this kind of a role repeatedly. The kissing and vigorous bedroom activities are quickly taken care of in the first 15 minutes. Wouldn't want the lovers of the serial kisser to feel they're being cheated in favour of the serial killer.

The wacked-out killer in "Murder 2" doesn't eat his victims. He just cuts them down to sighs…and groans and shrieks of pain and records their dying voices to get his rockers off….

The plot seems original. The narration is clenched and the characters driven by a desperate urge to assert themselves before death rings their doorbell.

The savagery with which the college-going call girl (Sulagna Panigrahi) is brought to her gruesome death becomes a metaphor for the loss of innocence and the triumph of diabolism that is often garbed in designer labels these days.

"Murder 2" is not a pleasant film to view. The psychopath's killings are done in graphic detail. The storytelling offers no respite from the brutality. Most of the time we are looking at happenings that we would rather not see. But see, we must.

"Murder 2" is a mirror of our amoral venomous times when no relationship is sacred anymore. Mohit Suri remains in command of the murky material and traumatized characters. While most episodes hold together in a riveting rhythm of life's most unsavoury truths, the sequences featuring Prashant Naraynan work better than the rest of the film. He lends the proceedings a credibility that is unsettling.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Chillar Party Movie Review

Chillar Party Movie ReviewFilm: "Chillar Party"; Directors: Vikas Bahl, Nitesh Tiwari; Cast: Irrfan Khan, Sanath Menon and Naman Jain; Rating: ****

At one point in American history, dogs and blacks were not allowed in public places. During the British occupation of China, it was 'dogs and Chinese' while at the first Mumbai marathon the rule was against dogs and wheelchairs. A dog has thus become a metaphor for seclusion, for denying someone their fundamental rights.

"Chillar Party" uses this metaphor in a brilliant, but hilariously entertainment manner to make a statement against those who seclude, be it Shiv Sena in Mumbai, fanatic Hindus who want Muslims out of India, or upper class Hindus who refuse lower caste people basic rights etc. That it does so while making you laugh, is its greatest strength.

After a street kid Phatka (Irrfan Khan) and his stray dog Bhidu begin cleaning cars in a rich locality, the rich, school going kids first try to fend him off, but later become great buddies. When a minister offended by the dog passes a law to ban all street dogs from Mumbai, the kids resort to some unconventional activism to save their beloved dog. But is it even possible for the powerless kids to take on a high and mighty minister?

"Chillar Party", in essence, is a children's film. But those who can read between the lines and see between pictures know that the most brilliant, imaginative and metaphorical literature and cinema in the world, are for kids.

Thus in literature you have your 'The Prince' and 'Gulliver's Travels', while the films of Iranian auteurs, though simple and innocent, attack an unjust system. "Chillar Party" is a welcome addition to these greats of world cinema.

Yet, what does a children's film need to be good? A simple story, good metaphor, oodles of cuteness and innocence, fun and humour and a band of actors to carry it all off. If you have these, any other drawbacks can be excused. "Chillar Party" has these and much more.

The film is filled with observations and idiosyncrasies that will leave you laughing your guts out. Every child in the film has acted with such restrained understatement that they give your popular stars a run for their money. And yet, beyond all these beautifully working elements, it is the metaphor of the dog that takes the cake.

Unlike nature, the world of humans is full of seclusion. Thus a Bal Thackeray in the 1960s wants the South Indians, in the 1990s the Muslims, and now the North Indians out of Mumbai. Fanatic Hindus want Muslims out of India. The Americans wanted blacks out of America. The Australians want Indians out. The Sri Lankans want the Tamils out. The list is literally endless. But as the film so valiantly, sincerely and emotionally argues, what is needed is inclusion.

"Chillar Party is filled with allegorical moments that hint at how the poor, the disenfranchised, the adivasi, the handicapped, the minority survive. When the rich kids take away his cleaning cloth, Phatka has no qualms about washing cars with his only tshirt. The rich consider poor to be pests and want them out, but the poor strive and ironically serve the same rich. Some, pushed to the edge, take up arms against mighty odds, like in the tribal belts of India.

Besides saluting the creative genius of writer-director Vikas Bahl and Nitesh Tiwari, one has to bow to UTV and Salman Khan, for flexing their muscles for something so beautiful.

"Chiller Party" may be a small film. But as cinema goes, in its adroitness, it is much more mature than 99 percent of the films ever made in India. And that, you'll reckon, is no 'small' achievement.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Bbuddah…Hoga Tera Baap Movie Review

Bbuddah…Hoga Tera Baap Movie ReviewFilm: "Bbuddah…Hoga Tera Baap"; Starring: Amitabh Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Hema Malini, Raveena Tandon, Prakash Raj, Makarand Deshpande, Charmee Kaur; Written & Directed by: Puri Jagannath; Rating: *** 1/2

Folklore has it that wherever the Big B stands, the queue begins. It's time to queue up for a film that reads like a running commentary on the Bachchan legend. Blessed are the generations that get to see India's most iconic and enduring screen-hero play a variation on all his most cherished roles.

And then some more. To the angry Vijay persona that the Big B created through those brilliantly-written films of Salim-Javed in the 1970 and 80s, the actor still sprightly enough to make all the bachcha-log of Bollywood look like performing midgets, adds dollops of wry cynicism that goes well with our times.

Make no mistake Telugu cinema's most successful director Puri Jagannath is not just a Bachchan fan. He's also a master storyteller. To the mix 'n' match tale of an Angry Young Man's journey into his advancing years of unrelenting lividness and self-mockery, Puri brings a crackling contemporary commitment to telling a story that has no room for humbug…only space for hectic hijinks.

Written with supersonic dexterity, the screenplay races through numbered days in the life of a Paris-returned gangster who is called back to Mumbai by a gangster with a serious concentration problem (Prakash Raj) to finish off a particularly troublesome cop(Sonu Sood).

It's a skilfully written yarn that doesn't stray into the yawn zone for even a second. Every character, even the relatively minor ones like the Bachchan's landlady who keeps jabbering to an unseen husband in Dubai, adds a sheen of zing to the shindig. Though the narration seems to leap before it looks, the director actually manages to create a controlled atmosphere of plot development within the chaos of Mumbai's streets clogged with scampering gangsters, cops and their minions.

Jagannath Puri displays a fabulous flair for the funny and the ferocious. The comic scenes contour the mega-star's proclivity to laugh at himself and the self-important world around him comprising gangsters, collegians, cops and other on-the-move urbanites. Vishal-Shekhar's austerely-used music creates evolved rhythms for the Bachchan persona. You can't miss the insistent beat.

As for the action, the camera (Amol Rathod) moves to the rhythm of the Big B's super-controlled body language creating for the assorted villains a kind of disembodied dynamism that we see in a far cruder avatar in the South, in the cinema of Rajnikanth.

Here, it is the Big B at work. And boy, that does mean something, doesn't it! The iconic super-hero maneouvres through his tailormade role with a devastating dexterity, creating a celluloid combustion that leaves a trail of smoking guns, screaming tyres and satiated expectations that audiences felt and experienced in the heydays of the Bachchan Raj.

The reign never ends…thank God for small mercies! "Buddah…Hoga Tera Baap" offers a pleasurable romp into the star-power of the Big B. The rapport that his character builds up through some lovely actresses of several generations (Hema Malini, Raveena Tandon, Sonal Chauhan, Charmee) is so bloody robust and funny, you are left wondering how much of the sly subtle foxy flirtatiousness comes from the star and how much of it was there in the screenplay.

Undoubtedly well-written and directed with sure-handedness that cannot hide Puri Jagannath's boundless admiration for the Bachchan phenomenon, "Bbuddah…Hoga Tera Baap" is one of those garam-masala products that's far clever than the outward flamboyance of the main character and execution suggest.

Cut through the blizzard of bravura that the Big B projects so insouciantly and at heart this is an emotional father-son story. See how cleverly the director moves from a kind of italicized derringdo to a clamped emotional finale…. See how skilfully the other actors support the Big B's towering presence. Prakash Raj as the arch-villain brings a sense of madness to the proceedings while Makarand Deshpande as a quiet gangster is a glorious foil to the Big B's repartees and rejoinders. Sonu Sood as the cop who keeps running into the old-young super-hero manages to hold his own in front of the Big B. And Raveena as the Big B's besotted bombshell beloved from the past has herself a blast.

So do we. Right to the last frenetic shootout, we are with the director laughing cheering and saluting the star-power of this super-phenomenon named Amitabh Bachchan.

And when the Big B does a medley of all his old songs it's time to forget that the Bbuddah has just become a grand-baap all over again. Just get up and dance to the rhythm of the Big B's star power. Don't waste time watching the smut. "Bbuddah…Hoga Tera Baap" is the past present and future of mainstream entertainment.

Delhi Belly Movie Review

Delhi Belly Movie ReviewFilm: "Delhi Belly"; Director: Abhinay Deo; Actors: Imran Khan, Vir Das, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Vijay Raaz; Rating: ****

It is a cliche as old as this nation - of the many Indias that breathe under one India, Indian cinema has hardly been representative of even a few of these. Yet, one would have expected, after globalization and the emergence of a new bold, urban India, that at least this class would get representation in commercial cinema.

Though there have been successful attempts in the past, it is with "Delhi Belly" that the urban, money-is-everything, foul-mouthed India has been captured with aplomb. And that, depending upon your morality, is good or bad.

Tashi (Imran Khan), a Delhi-based journalist living filthily with two roommates, winds up with a bunch of 'desi' goons chasing him and his mates after a mix-up. The three are forced to navigate the dark underbelly to survive, while encountering one situation after another and one idiosyncratic Indian after another.

The beauty of Abhinav Deo's film is not its smooth story, loosely inspired by the type of films made famous by Guy Ritchie, 'Lock Stock..' and 'Snatch' among others, neither is it Ram Sampath's catchy music that beats to the rhythm of the film, or the slick, seamless direction, or its immaculate casting and performance or even its wickedly witty dialogues. The true beauty of the film is in all these elements together creating a madcap image of a new, unabashed, even shameless section of India.

Though Delhi is referred to in its title, it is not the real Delhi that Dibakar Banerjee captures with satirical reality in his films. Instead, it is the image of a Delhi populated by young, educated, newly 'liberated' urbanites. In that it is the splitting image of that young urban India anywhere perpetually churning like the stomach of a character in the film, a showcasing of this nations new neo-liberal underbelly.

However, the other Indias might not take kindly to the film. Hypocritical Indians okay with female infanticide and dowry would be aghast at how almost every 'bad' word that they know is spoken everywhere on the streets and in homes, finds a place in the usually moralistic Bollywood. Cinema purists too may cry foul that the film does not really have a soul and is not really trying to say anything. Though a legitimate accusation, in not having a soul and not really being concerned or serious about anything, the film holds a mirror to a large section of the country. And that is a big statement in itself.

For decades Indian cinema has been shackled with a morality that has not kept pace with the changing morality of life around. Though the morality of the film is strictly of urban, young, middle-class India, and isn't representative, it is welcome as this is the farthest Bollywood has gone to truly representing urban life. And just for that, hats off to Aamir Khan for yet again, after "Peepli Live" and "Dhobi Ghat", believing in a different kind of cinema, even while he doles out a "Ghajini" in the same breath.

The last scene of "Delly Belly" is bound to become as iconic as the one in Mahesh Bhatt's 1990 musical 'Aashiqui'. If there the lovers were so embarrassed of their surroundings that they had to kiss under a coat, here the lovers who are not even girlfriend-boyfriend are so brazen and caught in the heat of the moment that the guy kisses the girl in full view, half his body hanging out a slowly moving Maruti car symbolic of old India, unconcerned whether others are looking (which they are not). If that isn't the urban, chic, and unconcerned-about-others India that has moved away from the morality of an un-liberalized India in 'Aashiqui' then what is?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Double Dhamaal Movie Preview

Double Dhamaal Movie PreviewNew Delhi, June 20 (IANS) After having the audience in splits with his 2007 hit film "Dhamaal", the comical fivesome of Riteish Deshmukh, Jaaved Jaffery, Arshad Warsi, Ashish Chaudhary and Sanjay Dutt are returning with a double dose of entertainment in the sequel "Double Dhamaal", releasing Friday.

Directed by Indra Kumar, the movie, co-produced by Reliance Entertainment and Maruti International, has new additions to the cast - Kangana Ranaut and Mallika Sherawat.

The story of "Double Dhamaal" starts where it ended in "Dhamaal", when they donate all the money that they had acquired. The four good for nothing jokers -- Roy (Riteish ), Manav (Jaaved), Adi (Arshad) and Boman (Aashish Chowdhary) -- still dream of a good life where they would get everything without doing anything.

Enter their old arch-nemesis and corrupt inspector Kabir (Sanjay), who is no longer a cop and is now leading a luxurious life. He drives a Mercedes, has a posh office and lives in a villa. After seeing all the comfort and luxury in Kabir's life, Roy, Manav, Adi and Boman feel jealous and decide come what may, they will share his fortune.

However, they are unaware that their quest to turn their dreams into a reality would become a nightmare as Kabir has his own agenda, only shared by his wife Kamini (Mallika Sherawat) and his sister Kiya (Kangana Ranaut).

Made at a budget of Rs.35 crore, the film has been shot in Mauritius, Hong Kong and Mumbai and promises to be a rib-tickling comedy. Another highlight of the movie is that after "Munni" and "Sheila", sultry Mallika will be seen giving competition to Malaika Arora Khan and Katrina Kaif as Jalebi Bai with her item song.

The makers have also bought the rights of the hit song of "Oye Oye" from the 1989 action film "Tridev" and remixed it to suit the GenNext audience. The music of the film is given by composer Anand Raj Anand.

The other highlight of the film is said to be Ashish, who dons the garb of a woman and even learnt how to behave like one for the role. And it was Riteish, who demonstrated catwalk skills to Ashish and gave him a lot of tips which helped in his performance. Riteish had played a woman in "Apna Sapna Money Money".

Ashish will show his 'adaas' and 'nakhras' as a girl while seducing Sanjay in the movie.

The shooting of the film, however, proved to be quite painful for Jaaved as he fractured his leg on the sets and had to be admitted to a hospital. As a result the director had to alter the final scene of the film.

The film is set for a worldwide premiere at the International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) awards function to be held next week in Toronto.

Whether the sequel will be able to repeat the success of the 2007 film "Dhamaal" is yet to be seen.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Ready Hindi Movie Review

Ready Hindi Movie ReviewFilm: "Ready"; Starring: Salman Khan, Asin, Paresh Rawal; Directed by: Anees Bazmi; Rating: ***

She's a runaway bride. He's a runaway rogue, a little rough around the edges but a good hearted lovable soul. Salman Khan can play this character over and over again with his eyes closed. In "Ready" he is back to playing the lover-boy clown.

"Mr. Fix-it" and "Ms Hum Apke Hain Conwoman" flirt and get naughty in exotic locations. They don't generate chemistry. They are just being around.

Jeez, these two never tire of saying cheese! And when the going gets cheesy there's always the family to fall back on. There are three families, living in homes that appear to have been built to accommodate over-sized families. The setting is almost laughably anachronistic.

Salman Khan and his director Anees Bazmi pay a hefty comic homage to "Hum Aapke Hain Koun". The Salman-Asin romance unfolds against the backdrop of a commodious joint family where every family-member seems determined to have a good time even at the expense of good taste.

True, Asin lacks the gamine charm of Madhuri Dixit. But then the Salman Khan in "Ready" is not quite the Salman Khan from "Hum Aaapke Hain Koun". He hasn't aged. He's just become more smug and self-confident. Many times we catch him looking bored on camera. But that is this iconic star's style statement.

When you are Salman Khan you can slip out of a character when you want. No one is complaining.

Bazmi's script, a shoot off of a Telugu hit, accommodates more characters than Goa during the tourist season.

Every character is over-dressed and over-the-top. Then men are constantly looking for reasons to say goofy corny things to one another. That's the required mood of this "panga-'mirth'-lena" comedy with an attitude that stretches from one end of the lengthy narration to the other with hardly a break for the plot to gather together its thoughts.

Bazmi keeps the proceedings neatly on the side of good taste. Innuendos are avoided, and partly so because Salman has an image of the good-bad boy. He never offends refined sensibilities with his wildly bratty antics, though he never shows any inclination to be one of those refined types himself.

He is happy being human in a way only Salman Khan can be. He gets able support from some solid performers like Akhilendra Mishra, Sharad Saxena, Manoj Pahwa, television comedian Sudesh Lehri and Mahesh Manjrekar whose hilarious act as Salman's dad is lifted from Sanjay Chhel's "Khubsoorat".

Strangely the women performers are all vapid to the point of seeming sedated. This is a men's comedy with women welcome to join the fun.

But nobody minds. And not because this is a mindless comedy. The quality of the gags is often higher than what we usually get in Bollywood comedies. But the film suffers from an overloaded narration.

There is too much effort to cram in "entertainment" at every possible level. There is also a rather lame attempt to define the status of women in feudal households. But the attempt is so hurried and cursory, it's almost farcical.

Replete with tongue-in-cheek references to many earlier blockbusters including Sooraj Barjatya's "Hum Aapke Hain Koun", "Ready" is like one of those familiar tunes sung to a new set of lyrics that you may not approve of but you empathize with because it offers the comfort of the familiar.

Having said that, the film, it must be confessed, doesn't really offer even diehard Salman fans the fun-quotient expected from the mega-star. Too many people colonise this domestic comedy. Boisterous uncles, over-dressed aunties, under-intellectualised gangsters and irksome henchmen are all greedy to be noticed. The trouble is, they aren't doing anything that is terribly exciting or engaging, except playing the foil to the star of the show.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Something Borrowed Movie Review

Something Borrowed Movie ReviewFilm: "Something Borrowed"; Director: Luke Greenfield; Actors: Ginnifer Goodwin, Kate Hudson, Colin Egglesfield, John Krasinski; Rating: ** 1/2

Romantic triangles are nothing new. Triangle between three close and long associated friends is also nothing new. What could have been new are the push and pulls and the situations that arise out of such liaisons. And though "Something Borrowed" does have its moments, overall it fails to hold as a totally fresh film.

Good girl Rachel's (Ginnifer Goodwin) best friend is the cheerful but obnoxious Darcy (Kate Hudson) and she to her is 'the sister she never had and a mother she needed'.

On her 30th birthday, after a drinking binge, Rachel sleeps with Dex (Colin Egglesfield), who she has had a crush on since college.

The only problem is that Dex is Darcy's fiance and now Rachel and Dex realize they have always been in love. Complications arise from their guilt and jealousies that threaten the three relationships.

There are some very tender moments handled well and some genuine laughs in the movie. Also a few side characters, especially the one of Ethan played by John Krasinski is a delight.

However, these genuine moments are too far between for the film to rise beyond the limits it sets itself and it fails the cut on two counts - of becoming a popular rom-com or in highlighting the issues in such a liaisons in a more serious manner.

What we have then is a film that is in between, and that is perhaps its greatest drawback.

In the revelation of secrets in the end, the film does attempt a serious ending like Mike Leigh's masterpiece "Secrets and Lies", yet it is too haphazard for it to be taken with the seriousness that the explosive revelations deserve.

Kate Hudson is exceptionally good in her portrayal of a vivacious, but pea-brained Darcy who's always looking out to have her fun. John Karsinski plays the perennially dark humoured Ethan, Darcy's opposite with revelatory elan. However, it is the script that lets the film down and you cannot help but wonder about the masterpiece that lay hidden behind the veneer of what you see.

On the whole, this hard-to-like but not-difficult-to-pass film, based on a novel of the same name by Emily Giffin, wastes a good opportunity and some good acting performances.

Kucch Luv Jaisaa Hindi Movie Review

Kucch Luv Jaisaa Hindi Movie ReviewFilm: "Kucch Luv Jaisaa"; Starring: Shefali Shah, Rahul Bose, Sumeet Raghavan; Written and Directed by: Barnali Ray Shukla; Rating: **

On paper, this must have sounded like a terrific idea -- to showcase the amazing talents of Shefali Shah, who plays a disenchanted housewife whose husband has forgotten her identity, not to forget her birthday.

She sets off on a day of adventure with a mysterious stranger, and discovers reasons to love herself. Wish we could love her as much as we want to. Wish we could share her zest to seize the day. The storytelling, sad to say, distances us from the housewife's zany confusions.

The idea of a woman's 24-hour journey into self-discovery needed more careful packaging and a mastery over the emotions that she has to pour out into the script to give the sensitivity that it aspires to achieve.

While Barnali Ray Shukla's writing sparkles, she is unable to put the situations on film in that inviting spiral of compelling situations that would make the housewife's predicament endearing and empathetic.

Once we get over the initial excitement of watching the housewife overcome her initial boredom, the narrative pretty much settles down to letting the protagonist find her own centre in a story that doesn't quite know how to get going. The narration moves forward in fits and starts.

Some episodes hold our attention for the effervescence that Shefali Shah brings into them. Here's an actress who is always in command of the material provided to her. Often we have seen Shefali go beyond the requirements of the script.

However, that isn't a luxury afforded to this consummate actress on this occasion, as we see her struggling with dialogues and scenes that seem to have been written with much warmth but little conviction.

What sees the film through is the intelligent camaraderie that Rahul Bose establishes with his co-star. This a road movie with the traffic in a state of chaos. We know the neglected housewife Madhu is out for a day of defiant adventure in the company of a sullen gangster who has just been betrayed by his girlfriend. Beyond that, we aren't really allowed to care for the two misfits.

By the time the two unlikely companions reach their destination, the plot has reached a dead end. Ironically, the film's best sequences comes towards the end. It's a stolen moment between the mother and her rebellious teenaged daughter in the rest-room where the older woman wants to know if her daughter has ever had sex.

This is the only time this sex comedy mentions the 's' word.

"Kucch Luv Jaisa" is a dissatisfying film about a dissatisfied life. It is littered with situations that had the potential to ignite into furious displays of intuitive intimacy. The moments are mostly squandered in trying to appear sassy, stylish and savvy.

A bit more of sincerity and intimacy would have gone a long way into making this film on unrealised dreams blossom into a work of ambrosial possibilities.

The pretentious songs on the soundtrack serve as a reminder of how much this film craved for more occasion to cheer the housewife's efforts to rise above her deadlocked existence.

Shefali takes the character as far as it can go. Beyond a point, there is little she can do with a script that doesn't quite find its centre.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Luv Ka The End Movie Preview

Luv Ka The End Movie PreviewNew Delhi, May 4 (IANS) Director Vikram Bhatt is back with what he is best at - spooking people. But this time the director takes his fascination to next level by making his new film "Haunted" in the 3D format, which releases Friday alongside teenage romance "Luv Ka The End".

"Haunted", starring Mithun Chakraborty's son Mahakshay, newcomer Tia Bajpai, Achint Kaur, Arif Zakaria andSanjay Sharma, is set in the misty mountains of Dalhousie, revolves around the sprawling mansion Glen Manor, with a secret past and a haunted present.

It is the first stereoscopic 3D horror film shot exclusively with 3DCC's custom-built 3D camera systems.

Bhatt, who has previously directed horror flicks like "Raaz", "1920" and "Shaapit", claims this is his "most expensive and ambitious project till date". It is shot in 3D format like "Avatar" and not converted from 2D to 3D format.

In the film, the protagonist Rehan (Mahakshay) visits Glen Manor to finalise the sale of the house, which his father had initiated. But during the proceedings Rehan discovers some mysterious incidents in the manor that may jeopardize the sale.

And when he investigates the inexplicable happenings, he comes across a girl and falls in love with her. This discovery brings him face to face with the biggest challenge of his life, how to save the girl when she is already dead.

The director roped in 3D technicians and supports from Canada who have earlier worked in the genre - Brent Robinson, Christan Jeams and Cassidey Micheal Reuben Flax.

Mahakshay is hoping to get a second chance in Bollywood with "Haunted" after making his debut with box-office dud "Jimmy". He will be seen performing risky stunts in the film.

This is the first big screen outing of debutant Tia Bajpai, one of the finalists in singing reality show "Sa Re Ga Ma Pa".

Also releasing Friday is "Luv Ka The End" starring newcomers Tahaa Shah and actor Shakti Kapoor's daughter Shraddha Kapoor. Directed by Bumpy, it is the first release of Yash Raj Films' newly launched youth film studio Y-Films.

Shraddha has previously worked in "Teen Patti".

Model-actress Shenaz Treasurywala has written the dialogues and screenplay of "Luv Ka The End", which tracks the story of Rhea (Shraddha), the quintessential girl next door. She is in love with the most popular boy in college Luv (Tahaa).

On the eve of her 18th birthday, they plan to take their relationship to next level, when she accidentally finds out that Luv is not as nice a guy as she thought.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Teen Thay Bhai Movie Review

Teen Thay Bhai Movie ReviewFilm: "Teen Thay Bhai"; Starring: Om Puri, Deepak Dobriyal, Shreyas Talpade; Directed by: Mrigdeep Singh Lamba; Rating: * 1/2

Some comedies mean well. But they lose their way in their noble intentions. "Teen Thay Bhai" seems like a terrific idea for a comedy. Three brothers separated more at mirth than by birth, trying hard to keep the spirit alive. They fail miserably, not for the want of trying.

The script here depends too much on extraneous trappings, too little on integral assets. There's no scarcity of acting talent here. Shreyas Talpade, Deepak Dobriyal and Om Puri shine in that order… Alas, they have no meat to sink their sharp teeth in. Often we see the actor groping and grappling with material that doesn't give them a chance to move beyond the immediate laughter of a situational comedy. Beyond the sound of current laughter there's no hereafter in the humour.

The static snowcapped location doesn't help either. The three principal actors seem as frozen in their efforts to rise above the stagnant humour as the snowy landscape in Jammu where veteran cinematographer Ashok Mehta tries desperately to find a centre in the meandering mirth.

The script has the seeds of an engaging satire. But the story never takes off. Minimalist props and background music don't help drive away the feeling of growing boredom that clutches at the throat of this vapid tale of three brothers who could kill each other with sibling friction and kill us with sheer boredom.

Towards the end, the plot shifts out a snow-strapped cottage into the outdoors where the brothers are assailed by hippy women who feed them with parathas filled with marijuana. By this time the script has completely run out of tricks to hold our attention. A climax with a giant steamroller as the villain is just about all that we are left looking at.

"Teen Thay Bhai" is like one of those books whose backflap synopsis offers us tempting insights into human nature. But by the time we settle down to the experience the plot has betrayed its own interests.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Thank You Movie Review

Thank You Movie ReviewFilm: "Thank You"; Starring: Akshay Kumar, Sonam Kapoor, Bobby Deol, Irrfan Khan, Rimi Sen, Suniel Shetty, Celina Jaitley; Directed by: Anees Bazmi; Rating: ***Bow to the wow. Men, we are told, are dogs. They cheat on their wives. And have themselves the time of their lives. And the wives, poor creatures, are so devoted to their spouses they observe the Karva Chauth for their pati-devils even when they have no reason to do so. Such devotion in show motion.

"Thank You" is a kind of backhanded ode to the classic Indian wife we grew up watching in the films where the resplendent Nutan would sing "Tumhi mere mandir tumhi mere pooja" to her smug husband.

Times have changed. But mores and marital values have only shifted location. Inexplicably "Thank You" is shot in Canada. Caucasian girls steeped in a slutty splendour, fill up the fringes of the saturated frames. Blonde salad-dressing apart, the message at the heart of "Thank You" remains as desi as the Punjabi accent that Akshay Kumar doesn't even try to conceal.

Since this is a film about the perils of skirt-chasing there are plenty of women of all shapes and sizes in skirts (including Sonam Kapoor whose dress code defies all analysis) and other designer clothes.

For that talented writer Anees Bazmi the theme of infidelity in "Thank You" is familiar territory. In the past he has done jokey takes on men who can't keep their libido down with varying degrees of humour. A certain higher level of intelligence is perceptible in the way the characters are put out for scrutiny in the light of their unfaithful characters.

Irrfan Khan as the sarcastic bully of a husband scores the highest marks in the acting department. His wry caustic responses to semi-petrified wife Rimi Sen make a mocking mark mainly for the way the lines are written and delivered. Irrfan is priceless in projecting parody. Rimi Sen, an underrated actress, provides Irrfan valuable support.

Akshay Kumar plays the pied piper of the libido. He tries to teach the three womanizers how to check their carnal instincts. That is the best joke in the film. Such self-righteous cool roles of the social reformer are not new to Akshay. He delivers a rousing monologue at the end on the virtues of fidelity. While his comic timing remains sharp and spot-on it is the way he tries to create an aura of suspense about his character's motives as a man on a mission, that provides a cutting edge to the tale of three skirt-chasers.

Remarkably the dialogues remain free of innuendos. Surprising, considering how lurid films about infidelity have gotten in the past. The proceedings adhere to a sense of fun without getting cheesy. Suneil Shetty's body language and comic timing in some sequences show his coming of age as an actor of mirthful value.

"Thank You" has moments that come close to illuminating the underbelly of infidelity. But fearful of forsaking the mood of a riotous farce writer-director Anees Bazmi pulls out of any serious statement to lounge languidly in his comfort zone. As far as masala comedies go "Thank You" gets by on the strength of some smart writing, sassy dialogues and of course a handful of performers who try to balance out the lacklustre performances of other actors who, lethally for a comedy, just don't get it.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Game Movie Review

Game Movie ReviewFilm: "Game"; Starring: Abhishek Bachchan, Kangna Ranaut, Anupam Kher, Boman Irani, Jimmy Sheirgil, Shahana Goswami, Gauhar Khan, Introducing Sarah Jane Dias; Directed by Abhinay Deo; Rating: *** 1/2

"What a story!" Abhishek Bachchan, playing a cross between a fugitive and a guardian-angel, says wrily at the end of this elegantly crafted whodunit.

What a story, indeed. And full marks to writer Althea Delmas Kaushal for crafting a jigsaw that would have made Agatha Christie smile. It wouldn't be incorrect to say, they don't make movies like this anymore. Stylishly crafted, cunning in plot and deft in its narrative thrust, "Game" is one of the most aesthetically-mounted Hindi films in recent times. Huge efforts and resources have gone into shooting the murder mystery in places where intrigue seems infinite, escape seems undesirable and redemption appears as distant as the sound of the waves splashing against rocks that have centuries of stories to tell.

Welcome to the Greek island of Samos. Anupam Kher, looking pricey in his tycoon's avatar invites four of the most distinguished elitist-outlaws on this side of Charles Sobhraj. Each has a past tense and a future imperfect. Everyone has a history and a back-projection. This is a world defined by a wealth of unexpressed resentment and smothered anger waiting to erupt.

Debutant director Abhinay Deo displays a remarkable grip over the proceedings. Though the narrative moves through a number of continents and exotic cities (Istanbul jumps out at us from the James Bond movies) propelling his tortured characters forward into motions of restless salvation, there is a quietude and grace at the heart of the narration that we've scarcely ever seen in desi whodunits.

The crime and its denouement are worked in graphic details. But the narrative is never bogged down by over-punctuation. For a crime thriller that pays a homage to the best traditions of the genre represented by Sherlock Holmes, Agatha Christie and James Hadley Chase, there is a tightly-wound feel to the storytelling, as though the director were moving contrary to the dictates of the genre, without slipping up with the details. If god lies in the details then why does the devil seem to have taken over "Game"?

At heart "Game" is a love story about a high-profile gambler and his doomed lady-love…a kind of Bonnie and Clyde with the inherent desperation of the duo's togetherness reined-in and qualified by ripples of elegant punctuation.

No hiccups, then, in Abhinay Deo's directorial debut. Like all cinema by filmmakers who come from the ad-world "Game" is a visual feast. Contrary to films by other ad-turned-feature director Deo doesn't unnecessarily abbreviate the shots in the fear of losing audiences' attention. The characters, specially Abhishek Bachchan's, get sufficient breathing space in a script that favours flirting with fate.

There is a delicacy in the textures and colours used to bring forward the tensions in the plot. Shashank Tere's art direction and Kartik Vijay's cinematography imbue a gritty cold edge to the spill of blood and the smell of greed. The portions shot on the Greek island are particularly hypnotic, the splashing waves creating a ripple of anxieties in the turbulence of the characters' lives without toppling the storytelling boat over into the sphere of the stormy.

Whether it is Anupam Kher as tycoon-host on the mesmeric island or Gauhar Khan as his seductive secretary, the characters never cease to appear glamorous on screen. The performers are eminently watchable. Anupam Kher, Kangna Ranaut, Boman Irani, Shahana Goswami and the underrated Jimmy Sheirgil get the tenor of tantalizing terror right. Sarah Jane Dias is quite a find, though she needs to work on her dancing skills. Her fabulously choreographed dance number suffers from the Two Left Feet Syndrome (hint hint!).

Abhishek Bachchan proves once again a master of silences, his eyes conveying the pain of lost love, his lips curling up to convey the cynicism of a man who has seen it all and couldn't care anymore. His two key action sequences are heart-stopping in their credibility.

Waltzing wickedly between the incredible and the inevitable "Game" succeeds in sustaining our interest right till the devilish denouement at the end.

"Game" is a film that never lets us forget that the whodunit attains an enticing aura only when the characters assume framed postures. Abhinay Deo's narrative walks a fine thin bloodied balance between dread and delight.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Memories In March Movie Review

Memories In March Movie ReviewFilm: "Memories In March"; Cast: Deepti Naval, Rituparno Ghosh, Raima Sen and others; Writer: Rituparno Ghosh; Director Sanjay Nag; Rating; *** 1/2

Strangely, it is women who render themselves effectively to the cinema of loss and bereavement. Don't men suffer when they lose someone precious? In a subtle sly way, debutant director Sanjay Nag's "Memories In March" poses this question on gender attitude towards loss and tragedy.

In a script tenderly crafted by Rituparno Ghosh, Nag has a woman and a man locked together in the chamber of shared grief.

Memory and its deeply-reflective recollection after death are a recurrent leitmotif in Ghosh's films. In the Ghosh-directed "Sob Charitro Kalponik ", Bipasha Basu fell in love with her husband Prosenjeet after his death. In "Memories In March", which Ghosh has scripted, the mother discovers the dark side of her son who she thought she was very close to after his death.

Aarti Mishra (Deepti Naval), a no-nonsense divorcee from Delhi, arrives in Kolkata after her only son's sudden death in a car accident, to close the account of her son's life and pick up the son's remnants that would, perhaps, serve to sustain her for the rest of her life.

In Kolkata, Aarti meets a gentle middle-aged man Arnab (Ghosh) who turns out to be a close friend of her son...much closer than she, the mother, would have liked him to be.

The sequence on a steep staircase where the mother is told by her dead son's affable colleague (Raima Sen) that her son was in a gay relationship with Arnab, is expertly executed to eschew tears while milking the situation for its insinuated poignancy.

"Memories In March" is excellent at building individual moments of crisis and catharsis between characters during a time that's stressful beyond imagination for all concerned. However, the sum-total of the moments does not quite add up to that tremendous eruption of emotions that one would accept in a film about a mother's journey into her dead son's secret life.

Often the narrative holds back emotions, more to appear European in spirit than to be in character with the script. As played by Deepti, the mother is a portrait of restraint breaking down just once when no one is looking in an open refrigerator and that too with such furtive fury, you wonder if she's holding back the tears for a time when the camera doesn't pry.

The narrative's structure and its journey from crisis to reconciliation is so tentative that you wonder if this moving portrait of a mother coming-to-terms with her son's death and dark secret about his sexuality doesn't lose out on something vital in its effort to imbue a cosmopolitan hue to the emotions.

Having said this, the detailing of the emotions and the nuances inherent in the ambience cannot be faulted. The film creates a scintillating synthesis of suburban sounds and the intangible sound of hearts shattered by unforeseen tragedy. Incidental sounds, such as children running down the stairs of the dead son's apartment block, or the old-fashioned rickety lift creaking to a start at a decisive moment in the plot, lend a workaday grace to the poignant proceedings.

The time passages seem cramped, uneven and, lamentably unconvincing. The narrative crams in the mother's bereavement, acceptance of her son's homosexuality and her bonding with his gay lover in a fashionably condensed one-brief-moment-of-grief weekend. Again, a European affectation.

Soumik Haldar's cinematography and Debojyoti Mishra's music invite attention to themselves slightly more insistently than the characters who remain suspended in muted melancholy. At times you wish to push the proceedings to a higher octave, if for no other reason then to see if these internally-suffering characters can express their pain more forcefully.

"Memories In March" is a ball of impenetrable anguish that implodes once in while. When it does, the little shards of pain and hurt pierce your soul. The bond between two unlikely mourners, who become one in their collective grief, remains with you long after the last shot of a fish tank lying bereft and a voice message unattended after an irreversible tragedy.

This is a work of bridled pathos made remarkable by Deepti and Ghosh's delicately-drawn performances. If you enjoy cinema that provides emotional catharsis, this one is for you.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sucker Punch Movie Review

Sucker Punch Movie ReviewFilm: "Sucker Punch"; Director: Zack Snyder; Cast: Emily Browning, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone, Vanessa Hudgens, Jamie Chung, Carla Gugino, Oscar Isaac; Rating: **

Hollywood's "300" film poster boy Zack Snyder needs "Watchmen" as he has developed a strange problem. Like a bad boy, he has been spending too much time playing video games. In "Sucker Punch", he sacrifices good storytelling and filmmaking for video gamey special effects. Somewhere in the film he forgets that he is a director, and not an effects supervisor.

It is hard to tell the story of "Sucker Punch", not because it transcends a conventional story, rather because it does not really have a story to tell.

A girl (Emily Browning) is sent to a mental asylum by an evil stepfather after she accidentally shoots her younger sister while trying to protect her. Her memory is scheduled to be erased, but before that she delves two layers deep into her mind in an attempt to free herself and a few other girls.

The film opens beautifully with a five minute montage that promises an entertaining, comic book touch to the film. Sadly, it's a no-go zone beyond this point as "Sucker Punch" becomes a video games meet "Inception" and "Inglourious Basterds" with women in the lead.

The problem is that Zack Snyder, who surpassed existing limits of special effects with "300" and "Watchmen", forgets that the two films had a beautiful story to back up the effects. That works. But if one expects excellent special effects to back up a non- existent story, you get punched for being a sucker.

Despite some commendable soundtrack to hoot, it is mostly loud enough to irritate and the filmmaking seems crass and the product of a juvenile mind. The only positive would be for serious video game buffs, who would identify sections of the films with their favourite games.

The girls in the film have one job - to look vulnerable and lethal at the same time and they do this convincingly. However, Oscar Isaac, as the evil guy who runs the place, proves himself to be an actor in the reckoning.

For those looking for cool special effects and martial arts, there's enough. For those looking for extreme slow motion next to fast-forward zooms pans to enhance action, there's enough.

Despite these, the film runs on empty. How Zack Snyder manages this, perhaps requires as much genius as making a "300" or his highly underrated masterpiece "Watchmen". Perhaps Zack, who wrote the story, should not try to film his own stories but visually interpret others with his evident genius for doing so.

The Eagle Movie Review

The Eagle Movie ReviewFilm: The Eagle; Director: Kevin Macdonald; Actors: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland; Rating: **1/2

Films once pandered to the simplistic black and white notion where good battles bad, and nad loses in the end. Literature, even ancient ones, knew otherwise. Cinema, the youngest of the art mediums, has taken longer to tread these grey areas.

Yet, it is disconcerting to notice that popular cinema still continues on its simplistic trip, despite showing promises otherwise. The Eagle is one of the best examples of that.

Army General Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum), during Roman civilization's golden age, is a progressive Roman by every standard. He leads from the front, is independent in thought and does not believe in the jingoistic politics of the time.

His only ambition in life is to get back "the Eagle", a standard made of gold that was the symbol of Rome.

His father, leading a charge of 5,000 men towards the northern territory, thought to be land of savage tribes, had lost "the Eagle" two decades back and had shamed the family.

After an honourable discharge due to an injury Marcus along with his slave Esca (Jamie Bell) tours the northern lands to get "the Eagle" and win the family honour back.

For a little while, it does seem that the Eagle will transcend its boundaries and address the grey areas to which the world and its morality belong and give a view from the other side of the fence.

In the northern region, far from civilisation, Marcus is taken slave by his slave Esca, and experiences first hand the humiliation of being one.

Here, and in many other parts, the film by being sympathetic towards those who are thought of as savagess could have attacked the notions of right and wrong and might being right.

However, it lacks imagination or political de rigeur, and sticks instead to typical Hollywood "apartheid" - thus making it average and a politically very wrong film.

Politically put in today's context, the film justifies the superiority of the western world over the eastern one. By its logic, every American and European invasion is justified. Be it the occupation of America by the Europeans beginning 1492 or European conquests of the world later, or America's various wars, including Vietnam and Iraq.

The film thus treads on a dangerous ground politically and its morality is of a propaganda film as it puts the sole onus on determining right and wrong on the mighty west.

And that is indeed a great loss, considering the ensemble of actors, technicians and the scope that was possible from the film.

That said, the film has cinematography to boot, and the performances leave nothing much to complain about, especially star Jamie Bell as the loyal slave and sidekick.

The Billy Elliot kid has grown up, sadly not the film.

Barney's Version Movie Review

Barney's Version Movie ReviewFilm: "Barney's Version"; Cast: Paul Giamatti, Dustin Hoffman, Rachelle Lefevre, Minnie Driver, Sosamund Pike; Director: Richard J. Lewis; Rating: ****

Unlike a comedy, or a rom-com, or a mystery, life is not one dimensional. Life, if you can describe it thus, is a mix of many cinematic genres. It is hence not surprising, that of late, there have been films that cannot be compartmentalised into any specific genre, but can be called 'mixed-genre' film. To experience first hand, and thus understand the potential of this 'new' genre, go watch "Barney's Version", a pinnacle in its own right.

"Barney's Version" traces the tragic, comic and mysterious life of Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti) - a politically incorrect, impulsive and irascible television producer owning 'Totally Unnecessary Productions' who goes through three marriages and one true love. As fate would have it, he finds the true love of his life on the day of his second marriage.

The woman - Miriam (Rosamund Pike) - is a guest at his second very Jewish wedding. He falls, irrevocably, irretrievably, irresistibly in love with this woman and chases her. But in the process, he becomes the prime accused in the murder of his best friend, Boogie (Scott Speedman). But would he get to keep the woman of his dreams?

There are so many things and aspects that the film handles, that it is impossible to categorise it into one straight jacket genre. It is one of the most original comedies in recent years. Yet, it is one of the cutest romantic films you'd have ever seen and has a murder mystery that baffles you till the very end.

There are many films that have been attempted like this, but none with the emotional and cinematic sweep of "Barney's Version". As a discerning audience, you are left with your jaw wide open wondering how virgin film director Richard J. Lewis, successfully manages so many spaces in the time span of less than two hours.

The film is also a connoisseur's delight as it is peppered with extraordinary performances from its leads and supporting cast. Paul Giammati is stellar in his portrayal of an ordinary man in perennial anguish over one thing or the other. Minnie Driver in a small role excels as a consistently henpecking wife. Rosamund Pike exudes sexuality and grace and Dustin Hoffman gets your laughing gases warmed up as the idiosyncratic, Jewish ex-cop, sidekick father of Barney.

The film has more genuine humour than seen in any film in recent years. And this has to do not just with the perfection of its actors, but the perfection of their timing with each other. And that has to do as much with their skills, as director Richard J. Lewis's apt handling of key moments.

Based on a popular novel by Mordecai Richler, it will make you wonder whether it is a comedy, or a romance or a who-done-it film. But you don't care. You don't even care about the little inconsistencies in the plot and some decisions made by the characters in the film. That is the sucking power of this totally necessary production.

Life Goes On Movie Review

Life Goes On Movie ReviewFilm: "Life Goes On"; Cast: Sharmila Tagore, Girish Karnad, Om Puri, Soha Ali Khan, Mukulika Banerjee, Neerja Naik and Rez Kempton; Written and Directed by: Sangeeta Dutta; Rating: ****

One of the many pleasures of watching this supple evocative family saga is to see the timeless Sharmila Tagore share screen space with her real-life daughter Soha, who by the way, has never looked lovelier.

That inner-glow comes from the company she keeps in this gentle drama suffused in melodious whispers and mellifluent suggestions of tunes long-forgotten and yet stored in the most inviolable chambers of the heart.

Luckily for us, and the film, the Sharmila-Soha togetherness is not harped upon. There are far bigger issues and virtues to do with family ties and cultural disaffection secreted in the storytelling, propelling our hearts to soar in ways that modern cinema doesn't allow.

When did Indian cinema cease to be about emotions? You wonder as you watch the silken cascade of debutante director Sangeeta Dutta's family secrets and emotions gush out in a Bengali family in London, when one fine morning the mother simply drops dead on the kitchen floor.

The mother-figure, a constant and non-negotiable pivot of every family, here seems to be much more in demand than usual. All her three daughters seem to be stricken with heart problems that no cardiologist can tackle. Blessedly, the mother of the family, Manju, is played by the gloriously imposing Sharmila Tagore.

"Life Goes On" captures the suddenness of bereavement in snatches of sounds, visuals and dialogues. There's far more austerity in the expression of the anguish and despair after the sudden bereavement than in Mira Nair's masterly study of coming to terms with death in "The Namesake". At times, you long for more time between the members of the grieving family.

There are no big breakdown sequences after the mother's death. Everyone gets busy trying to pick up the threads of life. Everyone is a bit selfish - that's the family secret that the film doesn't get judgemental about.

A lot of vignettes connecting the mother's memories to the present times appear predictable, even pedestrian. The director, fearless in her maiden endeavour, doesn't shy away from making her film look familiar.

From death to reconciliation, "Life Goes On" moves at a gentle pace.

The echoes and resonances of a life that lingers after death is created through a blend of sounds and visuals capturing the feeble but flamboyant light of London at dawn and dusk. The parks, bridges, two-storeyed residential areas and their incriminating quietude are ably captured in the film, as are the pain and postures of grief and mourning.

The Rabindra Sangeet in the original Bengali and a rather quaint Hindi translation suffuse a warm and endearing quality to the proceedings. The cross-cultural references resonate across the film's somber skyline with unobtrusive emphasis.

The film creates a fine balance between real-life elegies and their cinematic rendition. A lot of Sangeeta Dutta's mise en scene project a first-time director's effusive affinity to creating a defiant poetry out of the prosaic rhythms of life.

Life for the Indian Bengali family in Britain never seemed more complex.

At times you feel the director has 'Britain' more than she can chew. The sub-plot, on Islam-phobia brought in through Soha's boyfriend Imtiaz (Rez Kempton) and the rock band that he and his friends put together despite Mullahs' objections, seems to go off into tangent away from the Bengali's family's bereavement.

But at the end, when we see the band playing a punk version of Hemant Kumar's "Ganga Aaye Kahan Se" laced with a French rap section, you smile for the cultural shifts and translocations that the plot endeavours to establish without falling off the map of the human heart.

The performances by veterans Girish Karnad, Om Puri and Sharmila Tagore are uniformly skilled and supple. Among the younger members, Soha Ali Khan as the youngest Cordelia-like daughter to Karnad's King Lear emerges strong and yet vulnerable. But it is the unknown young actress Neerja Naik who plays Soha's lesbian sister, who proves a complete natural.

The subtle, delicate and utterly disarming play of light and shade, of mellow memories and the hard present-reality, of the various cultural cross-generation clashes - all these could have made any film heavy.

Not "Life Goes On", it is a gloriously polished and a poised look at the chaos that rules the bereaved heart in our troubled times. This film is a triumph on many levels and layers. And you don't have to be a Sharmila Tagore fan to realise how resonant her presence can be even when she is lost to the plot.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Hereafter Movie Review

Hereafter Movie ReviewFilm: "Hereafter"; Director: Clint Eastwood; Actors: Matt Damon, Frankie McLaren, George McLaren, Cecile De France; Rating: ***

Clint Eastwood has made a name for himself with his lilting, little gems. He has become an auteur in Hollywood with his own style and pace of filmmaking. Sadly in "Hereafter", he lapses in his own technique, making it a much lesser film than what it could have been.

It traces the near-death experiences of individuals scattered across the world.

A French journalist dies in the tsunami of 2004 for a few minutes and has a brief experience of the afterlife, only to come back to life. The experience changes her life drastically, leading her to search the afterlife, while unsuccessfully trying to keep the life she knows intact.

A man in America, after a near death experience in his childhood, can connect with people in the afterlife, but it interferes with his relationships and he wants nothing of it despite the insistence of his brother.

A young kid in London is trying to cope with the death of his twin brother, and wants to contact him. The three lives connect in interesting ways that will change the course of each.

The intention of Eastwood in this film is noble. Sadly his craft, at least in this film, does not match up to this intention. In interesting ways, Eastwood shows how humans are connected through death.

Thus in the Indonesian lives wrecked by the tsunami, the black poor woman in America who's lost a child, or the band of Sikh people mourning a death in the background of the death of the young boy's twin brother, he attempts unifying humanity and bring the thought of afterlife, or after-death -- something that all of us have thought of some time or the other.

He also presents the unity of many near-death experiences, of seeing beautiful white light after death and weightlessness and timelessness.

In parts, he gets didactic with it, despite an attempted restraint. It could, however, have been done with better story-telling craft and quickening of pace by better editing.

Also, in weaving together different stories in the film that necessitates pausing one to jump to another that is not yet interconnected, there is no time or emotion left for the audience to connect well and empathise better with each character.

This weakens the emotional appeal of a film that tries telling the story of something we all think about sometime or the other.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Battle Los Angeles Movie Review

Battle Los Angeles Movie ReviewFilm: "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles"; Actors: Aaron Eckhart, Ramon Rodriguez, Bridget Moynahan, Michelle Rodriguez, Ne-Yo; Director: Jonathan Liebesman; Rating: ***

There is nothing original about "World Invasion: Battle Los Angeles". In brief, it is "Independence Day" meets "Cloverfield" meets "Black Hawk Down" meets "Saving Private Ryan" with state-of-art special effects thrown in. And this, as you would have guessed, makes it a fun film, a total value-for-your-money movie.

Gulf War veteran Marine Staff Sergeant Michael (Aaron Eckhart) has put in his papers. But when the world is under attack from an alien race, he unwillingly becomes part of a platoon with zero combat experience to fight an enemy with superior power.

As things escalate and most of the air power of the United States is wiped out, it is up to the Staff Sergeant to command the inexperienced group of soldiers and a few civilians to safety.

Along the way, he discovers he could be the key to defeating the undefeatable aliens and as the world is retreating to a defence, he and his motley band of soldiers, decide to go on the offensive.

"World Invasion" takes itself less seriously than even the fun-film "Independence Day". If you consider the patriotic rhetoric of that film, this is a good thing. And there's no politics of "Saving Private Ryan" either. Though there is a hint of politics when the reason for the invasion is believed to be the one resource that the earth has an abundance of - water - and an expert claims on TV, "Rule of colonisation states that you wipe out the indigenous population. Right now we are being colonised."

There was a scope to throw in more of how dominant nations have been doing to their colonies what the aliens are doing to earth - decimating them. That would have made the film much more exciting.

"World Invasion" has almost every conceivable cliche of the alien/monster/war movie genre. This would have made the film boring had it not been for the gritty ground zero view of a war zone, a la "Black Hawk Down" and "Saving Private Ryan", some breathtaking cinematography and some of the best and most believable special effects in Hollywood.

Thus you have the usual sacrifices just at the right time, the fight over who's in command, an unresolved enmity, an unsure commanding officer, a band of brothers unwilling to leave the wounded behind, the usual teasing where you are not shown the full view of the alien for long, a civilian with just the information needed at crucial times, the expected twist in the tale a little after centre point, the usual last crucial missile shot that can save the planet etc.

Yet, despite its slightly longish take at over two hours, the film does not get boring or lose momentum at any point.

Director Jonathan Liebesman who has given some forgettable films, finally makes one that would be remembered. Writer Christopher Bertolini, who seemed to have disappeared after his delightful screenplay of "The General's Daughter", over a decade back, resurfaces with this film that is just the beginning of a franchise.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

True Grit Movie Review

True Grit Movie ReviewFilm: "True Grit"; Directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; Cast: Hailee Steinfeld, Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon, Josh Brolin; Rating: **1/2

It is always disappointing when despite a rich source in literature and a former film to pick from, a movie misses out the point of the story. The Coen Brothers, who have given some delightful and strong films in the past, completely lose their way in "True Grit". But for some strong performances, this film with excessive dialogues, falls flat.

The story is about 14-year-old Mattie (Hailee Steinfeld), who is thirsting for vengeance after her father is shot dead in cold blood by Tom Chaney (Josh Borlin). She hires a down-on-his-luck Marshal Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) to hunt the man down. LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) joins him. An uneasy relationship develops between the three as they move towards their uncertain goal.

The strength of the book, and the original film, was the grit of the young girl despite the innocence of her youth and her status as a female at a time when women were not expected to be strong. John Ford's original film of the same name, that won John Wayne an Oscar, brought that out. This film completely falls flat on that front.

Another important strength of the John Ford film was the chase, where the tension is built up every moment. In this film, besides the ending, it almost seems like a walk in the park for the trio. Also, the decision not to show the story of the girl, her father and their strong bonding, weakens the plot.

Hence, the audience is left wondering about the motivation of the girl. It is referred to via dialogues, but in doing so, the film fails the fundamental rule of good art - show, don't tell.

Also, the original became a statement of a time where women were not considered equal to men and hence was an important and feminist film. This version chooses to sideline that aspect completely to focus on the relationship between the three people.

"True Grit" thus merely ends up becoming a showcase for the talents of Jeff Bridges, something that we all know and was not really required. And even though the film or Bridges might win an Oscar, it will still remain the tomb of many missed opportunities and one of the weakest film in the Coen Brothers' portfolio.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tanu Weds Manu Movie Review

Tanu Weds Manu Movie ReviewFilm: "Tanu Weds Manu"; Cast: R. Madhavan, Kangana Ranaut, Jimmy Shergil, Swara Bhaskar; Director: Anand L. Rai; Rating: ** 1/2

Why should you watch "Tanu Weds Manu"? For R. Madhavan who will win you heart as a sweet lovable NRI doctor Manu who has the misfortune of falling in love with a Kanpur-girl Tanu (Kangana Ranaut) who not only rejects him as a suitor but also uses him to elope with her ruffian boyfriend.

Hiding his heartbreak and disappointment behind a smile, Madhavan fits into the role of a goody goody NRI like a glove. He is hopelessly in love with Tanuja who doesn't miss a single opportunity to hurt him. Rules, they say, are meant to be broken and that's what Tanu's agenda in life is - to break all rules that a middle-class family swears by.

Well, an NRI coming home to find a suitable bride for him is very common in Indian society and director Anand Rai's comedy opens with the same. He tries to be as close to reality as possible - from the backdrop, to clothes, to character artists - all bring out the element of a middle-class setup perfectly.

With a marriage in the background providing a perfect place for Tanu's second chance meeting with Manu, the movie traces the relationship between the girl and the NRI. Surely, perfect material for sentimental romances with 'comedy ka tadka'.

But there is something missing to make it a perfect romantic comedy. First, the script is punctured, then their is no chemistry between Madhavan and Kangana and if that was not enough, the narrative doesn't flow at the desired pace - it's slower than it should be.

Though the director picked up an interesting subject, he has not succeeded in executing his story effectively on screen - there are not enough laughs in the film. Whatever funny scenes are there, credit goes to the chemistry between Madhavan and Deepak Dobriyal who plays his friend Pappi.

Kangana's dialogue delivery puts you off and she lacks the spunk and spark to play the free bird that she is in the movie. In fact, Swara Bhaskar, who plays her friend Payal, holds the fort as the Bihari girl who is marrying a sardarji (Eijaz Khan) who also happens to be Manu's best friend.

Payal is impressed with Manu and even tries to drill some sense into Tanu's head but Tanu, a rebel, doesn't want to admit her feelings for the man who is picked by her parents.

Critics won't appreciate the plot but Madhavan fans would find enough material to enjoy the film.

Music plays an important role in a wedding-based romantic comedy and the director could have got it right if he had opted for fast-paced peppy numbers.

In the performance department, full marks go to Madhavan, Deepak and Swara. The supporting cast of K.K. Raina, Rajendra Gupta and Navni Parihar don't have much to do, but whatever role they have, they carry it well. Jimmy Shergill as Kangana's ruffian boyfriend is wasted, so is Ravi Kishen as his sidekick.

If you are looking for a great romantic comedy, this is not the one, but watch it for Madhavan and his chemistry with Deepak.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tanu Weds Manu Movie Preview

Tanu Weds Manu Movie PreviewNew Delhi, Feb 21 (IANS) There is a saying that opposites attract -- and director Aanand L. Rai explores it in his romantic comedy "Tanu Weds Manu", starring Kangana Ranaut and R. Madhavan, which releases Friday.

In the film, Madhavan plays Manoj Sharma a.k.a. Manu, a smart, intelligent, but shy NRI who has all the qualities of a good husband. He loves reading and listening to old songs, but hates loud music and crowded places.

Though he is educated and settled in London, Manu would never do anything against his parents' will. He is keen to marry a homely girl, so he comes to India to find a suitable match and meets Tanu a.k.a. Tanuja Trivedi, who is completely opposite of what he is looking for.

Madhavan admits that it has been his toughest role till date.

A beautiful, charming and extrovert girl from Kanpur, Tanu lives life on her own terms and dreams of marrying a guy who her parents will hate. She is also against arranged marriage and doesn't like being told what to do and what not to.

She loves to ride bikes, drink alcohol and admires Che Guevara, the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, guerrilla leader and military theorist who played a prominent role in the Cuban Revolution.

The film follows how two seemingly opposite-natured people end up falling in love with each other.

True to her character who defies every perceived trait of a small town girl, Kangana didn't shy from riding a Bullet in the film, although she was nervous while shooting the scene. In this sequence she was supposed to ride the bike with a pillion rider and drive through crowded, narrow streets. For this, she gave maximum re-takes.

Leave aside riding a bike, Kangana, who started working at the young age of 16 and couldn't attend college, got a chance to enjoy campus life when she stayed in a Delhi University hostel to prepare for her role.

Kangana plays a resident student of Delhi University. The 23-year-old stayed at the PG Women's Hostel in 2009. The producers arranged for her stay and took the required measures to protect her identity.

Rai has also roped in Jimmy Shergill, Eijaz Khan, Ravi Kishan and Deepak Dobriyal to make the story interesting.

Rumours were abuzz that Madhavan was upset with Kangana hogging the limelight for "Tanu Weds Manu", but the actor denied it saying he is very fond of the actress.

A superstitious Madhavan also asked the director to keep his entry in the film similar to that of "3 Idiots", as he feels it is lucky for him since the film was a blockbuster.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

7 Khoon Maaf Movie Review

7 Khoon Maaf Movie ReviewFilm: "7 Khoon Maaf"; Starring: Priyanka Chopra,Naseeruddin Shah, Irrfan Khan,Anu Kapoor,Alexandr Dyachenko,John Abraham,Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vivaan Shah; Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj; Rating: ****

Chalk up an absolute winner for the Vishal Bhardwaj-Priyanka Chopra team. They make a coherent vision out of an inconceivable marital crises.

How do you make sense of a woman who's an incorrigible potentially-loathsome serial spouse-killer who when challenged about her weird passion for changing husbands by divine decree rather than the law of the land, turns around and says, "This heart of mine, it's to blame." Wicked laughter follows. And dammit, we are amused!

How does one make head or 'tale' of such a woman? Well, the first thing a director with a canny sense and sensibility does is sign Priyanka Chopra to play the wretchedly unfulfilled, genetically incomplete woman, a living, throbbing warning against the institution of marriage!

Priyanka, not for the first time, proves she is leagues ahead of all competition. She approaches this strange and sensual creature of the night from the outside and then quietly makes inroads into the woman's heart and soul. We can actually see the character's snarled inner-world on Priyanka's face! We don't even know when and how she does it. Priyanka is that kind of a player.

Vishal Bharadwaj has earlier made films about gangs and gangsterism. Every time the dark brooding atmospheric surface seemed to suggest a life of sinister suppressions. Those unspoken, intangible thoughts and visions that often guide a human being to his or her doom are outlined in "7 Khoon Maaf" with supreme poetic elegance.

This is Bhardwaj's most fluidly-narrated film to date. Of course, having Gulzar on board helps. He pens Urdu poetry for Irrfan Khan and rock poetry for John Abraham. For Priyanka poetry is not needed. She creates a kind of indecipherable poetic statement for her deeply dysfunctional character who kills 6 husbands and moves to the 7th at the end of the film with the profound satirical grief of a woman who has discovered that this world has no true love to offer her.

True love...ah! Now that's an idea. At heart Vishal's dark elegiac film is about the search for true love. The relationship that Sussanna (Priyanka) forms with a young boy(Vivaan Shah) as she goes from one husband to another remains at the core of the film. In a macabre subversion of the almost-pure love that Susanna shares with Vivaan's character, at one point in the narration she tries to seduce the boy who's almost like a son. It's a dark ugly moment, almost repugnant in its incestuous resonances but in keeping with the character's insatiable appetite for destruction.

Vishal Bhardwaj brings to the storyboard a deep sense of tragic grandeur even as Susanna slips from self-gratification to delusional spirituality.

Priyanka Chopra has already proved herself way ahead of her contemporaries in her earlier works notably "Fashion" and "What's Your Raashee". In "7 Khoon Maaf" she moves to another level, displaying a range of emotions and age-changes (minus prosthetics) that one last saw in Shabana Azmi's performances.

Priyanka's sequences with Irrfan Khan (playing a gentle poet who transforms into a sexual pervert in bed) are stuff poetic nightmares are made of. We can clearly see the cinematographer (Ranjan Palit) is not in love with the actress, but the character. His camera searches for intransigent images in Susanna's life, even as Priyanka's quest for the character's core takes her into areas of self-expression that are far beyond the reach of cinema acting as we know it.

A. Sreekar Prasad edits the life of Susanna with a surety that, alas,the character never comes close to achieving in her dealings with the opposite sex. Sreekar creates a symphonic seamless movement from one husband to another, sometimes joining segments in Susanna's life with visuals that would otherwise seem incompatible.

The husbands are all played by actors who have no qualms in stripping away their vanity to become the kind of suave but duplicitous untrustworthy spouses who cheat and betray for the sake of the opposite emotion to love. Irrfan Khan as a wolf in poet's clothing, Naseeruddin Shah as the affable old Bengali dietician (his Bengali accent is more dead-on than any true-blue Bengalis) and John Abraham as a stereotypical rock musician gone to poppy-seed, are pitch-perfect in their creating a drama of the callous for Priyanka's character.

But it's Neil Nitin Mukesh as her first legless army-man husband whose display of clenched menace jolts you.

As a storyteller Vishal Bhardwaj has never been more in command of his language. He punctuates Susanna's story with bouts of unexpected humour and poetry. Providentially the murders are committed in ways that appear more humorous than savage. And that's both a good and a bad thing.

The narrative shows a rare understanding of the gender dynamics and the sexual tensions between men and women. Priyanka Chopra's interaction with the unctuous and closet-horny police officer Anu Kapoor delectably illustrates the fable of the Temptress & The Besotted. And by the way Viagara never seemed funnier.

Priyanka Chopra goes from husband-to-husband with a mocking sigh of resigned surrender. She is not a victim. But neither is she the hero of the bizarre web of destruction and delusion that her character weaves around her.

Gnomeo And Julie Movie Review

Gnomeo And Julie Movie ReviewFilm: "Gnomeo And Julie"; Director: Kelly Asbury; Voiceover: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Ashley Jensen, Michael Caine and others; Rating: ***

It is one of the most famous stories of all times, having been told in different forms and shapes through different times and cultures but with the same message of love over war.

The William Shakespeare version of star-crossed lovers destined for doom gets a modern, animated, 3D avatar and despite a well-known story, some cliches and a happy ending unlike the original, does manage to hold the fun quotient.

The Reds and Blues are two groups of gnomes living in neighbouring houses. For their owners, they are merely decorative pieces, but away from their eyes, they not only come to life, but are at war with each other. Much to their own chagrin Gnomeo, a blue and Juliet, a red, fall in love and aided by a plastic crane, secretly court each other. But can their love survive the hatred of their clans?

The two best things about this film are its immaculate animation and wit. To give garden gnomes the detailed expression would definitely have taken a lot of hard work. The wit and play on garden and gnomes is obvious from the name of the film but also delight in other places. Consider these: 'weapon of grass destruction' and ‘terrafirminator'.

The script of the film went through multiple hands, nine to be exact. And the result shows. Yet, there is something that seems to be missing in the film that could have lifted it from being just good to absolute greatness.

In terms of metaphor though, it's spot on. Would you let the hatred of others destroy your love? The little warring gnome world becomes an analogy for the world, where people find different ways and means to fight and destroy each other. Amidst this, the hope can be a simple love between two people. Unlike Shakespeare's original, this fragile love does win in the end and unite the clans.

The film will obviously delight kids, and with a little stretch of their imagination, adults are likely to enjoy it equally. The pun on cultural kitch and Elton John's music, lends additional charm to this ‘gnonderful' film.

I Am Number Four Movie Review

I Am Number Four Movie ReviewFilm: "I Am Number Four"; Director: D.J. Caruso; Cast: Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer and Dianna Agron; Rating: ***

After the tremendous cinematic success of "Twilight", there was an opening for something similar in the science fiction space. Hence when a book was being written that brought the broody, angst-ridden teen who has to perennially keep running to the realm of science, the rights for the film were bought even before the book was out.

The result is "I Am Number Four" - a "Superman" meets "Twilight" meets "Jumper" meets "X Men" meets "Transformers" meets "Spiderman" kind of film - that strangely works.

Number 4, played by Alex Pettyfer, is one of the nine living infants from the planet Lorien with special powers that are hunted by the Mogadorians, an evil specie that invade and absorb the resources of new worlds. He lives in hiding with his protector Henri (Timothy Olyphant) and keeps moving from one place to another to avoid detection, till in one place he falls in love with Sarah (Dianna Agron) and wants to stay and fight back practicing, and growing confident of, his telekinetic powers.

The film produced by Michael Bay and directed by D.J. Caruso has stamps of the Steven Speilberg school of filmmaking, where in the beginning everything is underplayed, and the mystery and the powers of the protagonist slowly unfold to a grand, violent finale full of special effects that blows the audience.

There is really nothing original in the film as it merely rearranges known situations and resolutions. Yet, linear, simple and cliched as it may be, it is done without being too in the face. Hence, there's a comfort of the familiar in the film for mass audiences. The discerning audiences can give it a convenient miss.

Though attempt has been made to make Number 4 silent and broody like Robert Pattinson from "Twilight", he is too hulky to be so. Also, in the rush to drive the chase story, there's little time to develop the love angle, something that we will obviously see in the next instalments.

For Indians, this is a special film as it is the first fully produced film by Reliance Big Entertainment in association with Spielberg's studio and thus marks Reliance's true global debut.

"I Am Number Four" represents the hurried rush for formulae that will work at the global stage, obvious from the fact that the rights to the book were brought by Dreamworks a year before the book was released and both the book and the film come barely six months of each other.

The result is the beginning of a new film franchisee. However, to retain audiences' attention, the filmmakers will have to do much better in every department of the film.
Related Posts with Thumbnails