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?
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