Monday, December 27, 2010

Tees Maar Khan lacks the Farah Khan magic, relies on buffoonery

Lets get it straight. Despite all the hype and publicity around it coupled with the humongous expectations and the striking opening of the movie this weekend, Tees Maar Khan fails to work and leaves you with only a few moments to laugh. Providing complete entertainment in 2-3 hours is a difficult task to do and very few movies in the recent past have been able to do so, having set aside the fact that entertainment is again a very relative term and its more like to each his own. Having said that, films like 3 Idiots have successfully managed to keep you hooked for even 3 hours and provide a wholesome entertainment. There is a thin line between making a hardcore masala movie containing a formula-with-tadka and a buffoon ride of a movie. Tees Maar Khan does not care where it crosses over the line in the disguise of entertainment. I have never been against brainless comic capers where you can go, leave your brains, reason and rationale at home and be a part of a laughathon for a couple of hours. But unfortunately, Tees Maar Khan fails to live upto that too.

Tees Maar Khan, surprisingly, doesn’t match up to the standards set by Farah Khan with her previously directed films. Both Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om were smarter, funnier films that benefitted from the writer-director’s irreverent humour. But for this film she hands over the writing responsibilities to Shirish and Ashmit Kunder who appear to have drained the film of any smartness. Buffoonery reaches its greatest form and absurdity completely eludes the magic of masala movies Farah is known for. Even if you suspend your disbelief, TMK is hard to relish and Farah definitely doesnt get it right this time around. In the year gone by, there have been many comic capers which have failed and some like Housefull which have had highest quotients of illogicality but still made you laugh for the time you were in the theater. TMK, on the contrary, manages to do that only on certain occasions and comes out as a half-baked attempt with poor writing.

Adapted from the 1966 movie After the Fox, TMK completely eliminates the magic that was a part of the Peter Sellers' original version. Firstly, Shirish and Ashmith Kunder should seriously consider not writing scripts if they have to copy good old movies and rape them. Kunder will be directing Joker next with Akshay Kumar, I wonder where he has ripped that script from. No wonder why Shahrukh Khan denied to do Joker and it ultimately resulted in Farah separating ways with him and making a film with Akshay, and also launching her own company with this film just to prove her point. Sorry Farah, but you failed miserably! You would have rather been loyal to SRK rather than taking digs on him all through TMK. Not only that, she takes digs on every other possible disability (which maybe funny at times if done in good taste) or any kind of race. The name of the dark skinned guy and him being caught because of his white teeth, a leucoderma patient taken to be a white guy, 3 gay guys being repeatedly made fun of as being girls and dressed in pink, conjoined twins speaking in unison and flying in a conjoined aircraft, a bad dig on Manoj Night Shyamalan as a failed filmmaker and stuff like that is not in good taste and evokes only cheap laughs. Farah makes a movie which she is most comfortable with and her style and treatment is totally effortless, specially during the enjoyable first half but writing falls apart in the second half and the movie falls flat, drags slowly to its conclusion and feel you a serious loss of content. To make up for that, she ends up falling prey to making use of buffoonery and repetitive jokes which dont work either.

Any plusses? Yes, there are a few. Akshaye Khanna's character (Aatish Kapoor) although based out of taking digs on SRK and Manoj Kumar is actually the best written character in the movie. The character of the oscar-hungry filmstar stands out and makes you laugh. The fast pacing of the first half along with Farah's treatment sets the tricks of a heist straight and get to the point fast. She manages to build a entertaining first half turning simple situations to larger than life, a flair typical with masala movies. The song numbers are brilliantly done and get you into the TMK world instantly. But the bizarre of the proceedings gets to you and you feel like leaving the movie halfway, for instance Akshay's sidekick trying to bribe the sun to move in a different direction. These are small instances where Main Hoon Naa and OSO scored way over TMK. They had numerous magical moments which made these films author-backed, entertaining and lovable. TMK, nevertheless has few slapstick positives, but on the whole, doesnt deliver what it promises.

Akshay Kumar tries hard to breathe some life into the character but the illogicality is too much in the face kind of, and it does not allow you to see it as a masala movie. TMK's character is under-written, his tricks unexplained, his dialogues repetitive and his nature is confused. It seems he is just a conman at one instance, and that he has soft heart at other instance without any proper transition. Katrina Kaif is totally wasted in a short role and doesnt perform anywhere except in the Sheila ki Jawani song. The only enjoyable character is played by Akshaye Khanna. He has a short role but performs it naturally making everything funny. Special mention of the scene in which TMK offers him the role in his movie at his house and the sequence towards the end where he sings 'Mere Desh Ki Dharti' after performing the robbery. All other side characters are totally over the top and unbearably non-hilarious. Cinematography is nothing unusual, dialogues are witty for one time, not for repetition. Editing is crisp in first half but bad in second half. Every other technical aspect is strictly average. Music is already a success with the world-wide popularity of Sheila ki jawani. Even the Wallah Wallah track is good. Both the songs are done extremely well and are sure to pull the audiences. Katrina scorches the screen in the numbers and looks exceptionally stunning, backed by Farah and her innate style of showcasing her heroines.

On the whole, TMK has a lot of shortcomings. Its supposed to provide complete entertainment which does not happen and its not even a tribute to the old-school cinema. The buffoonery is not what Farah is known for. Due to the Christmas weekend, the movie has opened big and the collections are huge but its sure to fall apart with the word of mouth and the resentment against it. Dabangg managed to pull crowds for weeks on end because it had a certain flair clapworthy moments in it but TMK lacks that. Its not as bad as Golmaal 3 but its not recommended either. Go to the theater if you are totally bored!

Rating - 1.5/5

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Band Baaja Baraat is a revelation, dont miss it!!

Band Baaja Baraat is an unusual movie. Its fresh, its raw and its a revelation in every sense. You would not expect this offering from Yash Raj Films to strike a chord but it does and goes beyond it too. BBB is a charming entertainer which will win your heart with its uncouth appeal, the legit desi-ness and the simple relatibility factor from each one of your's daily lives. It works phenomenally and makes you want to see more of the lead pair, specially the guy. Maneesh Sharma deserves all the accolades to deliver BBB as a debutante. I really appreciate the efforts that all these new directors put into movie-making and actually thinking something different.

Band Baaja Baaraat benefits enormously from its two core strengths - sharp writing, and shooting on location. Both, in fact, give the film and its characters a real, believable feel. Bittoo's strong accent, the way he says 'binness' instead of business, the pair's aspirations to graduate to planning fancy Sainik Farms weddings, and the clever dialogue by Habib Faisal are the kind of little touches that make all the difference in this film. The writing is taut and honest. Sharma keeps the ongoings extremely enjoyable for the whole of 2 hours pretty much. He relies on characters' irrationality, immaturity and innocence a lot for this and it works perfectly for him. The plot is new, the treatment is fresh, the situations are absorbing and the characters do not become caricatures. Sharma dishes out the Delhi flavor efficiently and this ones gonna work wonders for Delhites. There are many notable sequences actually. Bittoo's character is so well-written that it overshadows everything else. The successes of the lead pair in the business and the means they get them, the fights between them and how they talk about it, the ego issues, the reconciliation as well as the finale all rest heavily on Bittoo's character and this is what makes each of these sequences lovable. Any minuses? Yes, the film might get irritating for many audiences in the second half due to the sheer immaturity of the characters or their ego clashes. The music may not be a hit in the market.

There is this AIR OF NEGATIVITY going around about Yash Raj Films that they are dishing out good stuff lately, which might try to pull the movie down too. Honestly, they have stopped giving good movies one after the other but thats because they are producing a lot more movies each year. Looking back at the ongoing year, I strongly feel Badmaash Company was a highly under-rated good movie and Lafangey Parindey was better than average for sure. BBB is definitely their best offering of the year and it should get all the credit and collections it deserves. This one works because it's invested with an earnestness that's become increasingly rare to find at the movies.Its a romantic comedy which gets it right.

The biggest reason why I loved BBB was Ranveer Singh. That guy is a genius. Confident, uninhibited, spontaneous, charming and in true sense, the LIFELINE of BBB. Ranveer shows a rare understanding and catched you unaware in the emotional moments with his simplicity. He plays Bittoo with the utmost aplomb required and it is difficult to imagine any settled actor do this part. Ranveer has the potential to a very recognized actor, because he is immensely talented. Anushka is always wonderful, she rejuvenates herself with each movie and you dont feel that you ever saw her before. She adds a new-ness to each character she plays and in this one, she goes one step forward to deliver a difficult role in the best possible way. Their chemistry works amazingly well in the smallest of scenes and is the real spark of BBB. The supporting cast includes all unknown names but they all deliver their best for BBB. Sharma's direction and dialogues catch you by surprise and are totally appealing. The locales are true to Delhi and its feel and are shot well. The music could have been a tad bit better, or maybe it could have been publicized better.

BBB will have to rely on a lot of word of mouth due to its low publicity and the air around Yash Raj Films, both of which are unfortunate. This one is fresh baked straight out of the oven. Its honest, its lovable and its highly recommended

Rating - 4/5

Phas Gaya Re Obama is an exceptional movie in all respects

You can blink and miss Phas Gaya Re Obama, but if you have any respect for real taut screenplay and content-backed cinema, smart satires and intelligent comedy, this venture does it all for you. Real Respect. PGRO easily qualifies in the best movies released this year leaving many of its counterparts far behind. Constructed from a terrific script that’s strong on plot and packed with crackling dialogues, 'Phas Gaye Re Obama' is consistently engaging. Full points to director Subhash Kapoor for entering the industry with a bang. An interesting concept may not be enough for a movie, but Kapoor backs it with a brilliantly written screenplay which does not let you bat an eyelid in those 2 hours and still manages to subtly make a comment on very important issues.

What's the recipe for a winning motion picture? A gigantic financial plan? Striking locales? A mammoth star cast? Strictly going by the number of low cost films that found tremendous appreciation, it reiterates and restates the fact that content always reigns supreme. 'Small' films like LOVE SEX AUR DHOKHA, TERE BIN LADEN, UDAAN, PEEPLI [LIVE], KHICHDI and DO DOONI CHAAR have had a lot to say when compared to several mammoth ventures, which drove on star power while content took a complete backseat. PGRO does not have the stars, does not have the canvas, does not have the publicity, does not have the hype, does not have the brilliant cinematography, or the outstanding music score, but it gets full points for the most important part of movie-making: The Content and its Treatment.

Subhash Kapoor has many feathers to his cap in PGRO. The humor is subtle but makes you laugh immensely. The situations are funny but real, and dont bother on exaggeration. The incidents are unpredictable but not unbelievable. The comments made on the issue are not outrageous, but still relevant. Handled extremely well, the film has numerous sequences which make it a true winner. The last scene and the 2 lines said by Sanjay Mishra regarding recession speaks volumes on the whole issue. The sequence when Manu Rishi meets Rajat Kapoor for the first time, the sequence when he meets him after his kidnapping, the sequence when all the gangsters are called to face Munni (Neha Dhupia's character) as well as the finale are true gems in this one. Besides, all the other sequences involving Sanjay Mishra and his gang are hilarious and well enacted. One special mention has to be made of the sequence in the English teaching class, which is outrageously funny. PGRO has a very engaging screenplay and the funniest of situations and one-liners come with an amazing innocence. The assortment of characters, the efficient casting and situations works superbly for this cleverly written venture.

Manu Rishi is the star of PGRO. All actors deliver brilliance but he shines above them as the moderately educated sidekick, and literally lives his role with the perfect style, innocence and understanding. He is a great find and is sure to go places. His ease and effortlessness surprises you and wins your heart. More than an award winning performance! Next up, all other actors deliver their best too. Right from Rajat Kapoor as the NRI to Sanjay Mishra as the local gangster to Neha Dhupia as the female Gabbar Singh to Amole Gupte as the constipated politician are totally in skin of their character and make this venture a real pleasant watch. Although, I still feel that Amole Gupte's character was slightly under-written. The dialogues are outstanding, one of the best this year and the direction is intelligent. This low-budget satire works on many levels.

Any shortcomings? The film is badly edited at many places and its not marketed strategically. On the contrary to Peepli Live, this one has the potential for a pan india appeal as I do not see any potential barrier that could make any section of the audience like the movie less. In this cut-throat competition, the multiplex culture would kill this gem, but trust me, we make a lot of off-beat films these days but only a few of them hit the nail at being smart and satirical at the same time. This one dares to do that.

Highly Recommended!

Rating - 4/5

PHAS GAYE RE OBAMA showcases how global recession/meltdown impacted lives, affecting not just an America-based businessman, but also an underworld don in the dusty plains of small-town India. A spanklingly new idea indeed. And the assorted characters, right from Sanjay Mishra to Manu Rishi to Neha Dhupia to Amole Gupte, only make the goings-on spicy.

No Problem is barely funny

To be fair, Anees Bazmee's movies have always pulled money at the Box-Office no matter how bizarre or unbelievable or senseless their plotline is. Personally, I have enjoyed his comic capers as they come in as a breather amongst all the thoughtful cinema which could get to a point where you cannot take anymore. For once, you wanna sit back, leave your brains at home and laugh for 2 hours at a madcap comedy and I am sure a majority of Indian audience prefers that too. A lot of critics totally trash any madcap comedy that is served out to them but they have a strictly one-dimensional view of Indian Cinema where they only enjoy something that is outrightly intelligent or smart, in short, a little offbeat cinema or a mainstream entertainer like 3 Idiots which is more complete in most ways than other movies that come out. I would want to see a No Entry or a Welcome or a Housefull once in a while to feel happy and laugh without having to apply my brains. The problem with Bazmee's latest offering is that it does not even manage to do that, it is barely funny and fails miserably in front of its counterparts mentioned before.

The most difficult thing is to make people roll with laughter and that's precisely what Bazmee does in film after film, for viewers of all ages. Follow these three mantras religiously, while watching an Anees Bazmee film: Don't seek logic, don't ask questions and just keep your thinking cap outside the theatre. You need to follow these rules while watching NO PROBLEM as well. Unfortunately, Bazmee's latest outing is so mind-numbingly dull that you wonder how could he come up with such a soulless and charmless film. Most of his films are low on content, but they are packed with those genuinely funny moments. No Problem lacks that. The humor is very repetitive and forced, its like cracking the same jokes again and again. There are barely a few funny moments. In one particularly tasteless scene in director Anees Bazmee's 'No Problem', Akshaye Khanna dressed in drag, is mistaken for a prostitute and picked off the street by Anil Kapoor, who brings him home and begins to grope him on the bed. It's after Anil has practically climbed on top of him, that Akshaye tells him he has AIDS, a trick that makes Anil back off right away. In another scene, Paresh Rawal spots Akshaye Khanna with black paint smeared all over his face, prompting him to make a loud declaration that he hates blacks. This incident takes place at a crowded beach in Durban where most of the film is set, and where Paresh's character is promptly beaten up by the African locals who are understandably offended. One outraged woman even says: "Obama is the President of America, and you still hate blacks?" There are barely few moments that actually make you laugh, and none that make you go ballistic with laughter.

No Problem fails to entertain and the contorted faces dont evoke a smile in the second half. The gags and the plot fall flat after a point and you want the movie to end. Bazmee does not get it right with this one, he is missing the core funny moments, the outrageously funny characters, the exaggerated plot that he used to have in his previous movies. Anil Kapoor tries hard to save his home production but Shakti Kapoor and him are the only relief in this venture. They are genuinely funny in most scenes. Sanjay and Akshaye are out of place. Paresh's role is under-written. Sushmita Sen is TOTALLY wasted in a useless role. Kangana looks plastic. Suniel Shetty is miscast as the don, he doesnt look funny or even a don. All other side characters are hardly funny. Music, Cinematography and dialogues are all average.

The actors would have tried hard to push their comic limits but the writing does not allow them to. The one-liners are missing and so is the madness. The direction is indifferent. The writing is inefficient. Despite a few funny moments, No Problem is not a madcap and it kinda disappoints me personally!

Rating - 1/5

Aakrosh is a 'hold-your-seat' drama, Recommended!

Priyadarshan has a flair for serious drama and he does them well too. Everytime he takes a break from his comic capers, and comes up with a drama, he does not produce shit for sure. Aakrosh is one of those movies which would go un-noticed due to its non-appealing starcast, insufficient publicity and not a very strategic timing. Nevertheless, Aakrosh should not be missed as it is authentically a gripping drama and has ample 'hold-your-seat' moments backed by legitimate performances by almost the whole cast. The storyline is right on target but credit for that must go to 'Mississippi Burning', the Oscar-nominated 1988 film by Alan Parker, from which this film borrows heavily and gets everything to an Indian setting.

Shameful as it may sound, honour killings still exist in many parts of the country. The misconception is honour killings are all about the murder of a female family member by one or more family members, since the perpetrators / wrongdoers believe that the victim has brought dishonor / disrepute upon the family by having a relationship with a man of different religion or social status or marrying against the parents' wishes or having premarital sex. The fact is men are also victims of this practice, especially when it affects the reputation of a particular caste and community. Many grooms have been killed by the father or brother of the bride and this is exactly what AAKROSH attempts to highlight. Aakrosh has many gripping moments and Priyan Sir manages to pull them off with a lot of aplomb. Note the chase sequences, all of them are brilliantly done, the sequence right after the fire in the village, the sequence at the police station, the sequence at Paresh Rawals residence or the finale. There is a romantic story between Ajay and Bipasha but that is more of a subplot and is better kept like that. There's also a thrilling car-chase scene in which Devgan, perched on the top of a speeding jeep, leads his partner through a dense forest, in pursuit of a car ahead. Such scenes really get your adrenaline high and get you involved with the characters.

Aakrosh is a hard-hitting drama and has a non-compromising approach which might not go down well with all kinds of audiences. Some of the killings are brutal and dark and could make you uncomfortable. But 'Aakrosh', like 'Missippi Burning', is about the land it's set in, and the people of that land. Replace the racial conflict of the original film with a caste conflict, and the stage is set for a violent tale of privileged Brahmins and the victims of their oppression, the Dalits. It's hard not to be moved by the gruesome attacks on innocent townsfolk, although the director steals even those scenes to the last detail. Bad music, not a great cinematography, a longer than usual length and lyrical dialogues are some other shortcomings for this fare. Aakrosh's content matter has its limitations too.

What works well for Aakrosh is its performances, the issue-based content and its direction. Ajay Devgn and Paresh Rawal are on top. Akshaye Khanna is not far behind. All three of them deliver mindblowing performances and carry the movie forward on their shoulders. Rawal needs a special mention here because he shows his versatility as an actor who can get into the skin of any character with an amazing ease. Devgn and Khanna exhibit superb understanding and deliver clap-worthy performances. Bipasha is efficient in a small role and lives it up. All other remaining actors perform their parts well too. Despite all the plusses, Aakrosh has two major things that would work against it. It does not have a pan-india appeal and is only going to magnetize the thinking audience. Secondly, a lot of issue based films have followed the same discourse with a similar conclusion on different social issues and Aakrosh fails to do something new, not that there is much scope to do new also.

Watch it if you like sensible cinema!

Rating - 3/5

Jhootha Hi Sahi does not dare to try something new

Every film should be judged purely on the basis of its merits/demerits. Comparisons or drawing parallels with another film, even if it's helmed by the same director, is not right, in my opinion. But if the posters/billboards/newspaper ads/promotional material of JHOOTHA HI SAHI has an eye-catching line that screams 'From the director of JAANE TU YA JAANE NA', if not comparisons, the expectations from JHOOTHA HI SAHI do multiply five-fold, since JAANE TU YA JAANE NA was, in terms of economics, the biggest hit of 2008. Sadly, Tyrewala's new offering fails on many levels and does not get anywhere near his previous venture, even though it has an interesting plot and concept to begin with.

Its a love story at its heart, and all love stories work on the small moments during its course to reach its finale as well as the chemistry between the lead pairs. Unfortunately, Jhootha hi Sahi fails on both these testing portals. Much of the film’s problem lies with the fact that it’s trying too hard to be cool. The films trying too hard to be contemporary too and it kinda deviates the movie from its central point. The situations start looking forced after a while and the humor looks forced in the plot. The only point where I laughed in the whole movie was when Raghu Ram crack a racist joke on Muslims, which I was not supposed to laugh at also, lol. The film does have a few clever moments which have been handled well by Abbas. The interesting concept of two people becoming friends over phone does not build on to transform into something solid and too many subplots steal away the lustre. Towards the second half, the plot becomes predictable and the subplots just add to the dull movement of the main plot. There’s an idiotic subplot involving Mishka’s ex-boyfriend, played by R Madhavan, and his is easily the film’s worst written character.

Jhootha Hi Sahi gets a few things right though. The plot catched your attention right away. Sid's (John's charactter) interest in Mishka (played by Pakhi) and the way he goes about it to get to know her and hang out with her is funny at times because he makes mistakes playing both the phone friend as well as the friend. Again, this is a heavily borrowed concept from Rab ne Bana di jodi. The finale and its execution, although Bollywoodish, is highly interesting and well handled. John and Pakhi put in earnest performances and try their best to pull the movie through. John delivers a responsible performance and manages to look good at the same time. Pakhi is a good find for the industry. Though she needs a lot of grooming, she can deliver in more author-backed roles. R Madhavan is wasted. Raghu Ram is good. Other side characters are okay. Music by A R Rahman does not strike a chord. Cinematography does not do anything new. Dialogues are over-written.

On the whole, JHOOTHA HI SAHI is an absolute letdown in terms of content. Given its high costs on one hand and weak merits on the other, the film will make a big hole in the pockets of its investors. Also, the marketing of the film has been really low key and the producers never really bothered to get the word out there, so thats gonna work against it too.

Watch it if you dont have anything else to do!

Rating - 2/5

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Golmaal 3 fails to make you laugh even once

The Golmaal Series is back, with their third venture of the series with the whole team of Rohit Shetty. Golmaal Returns did not live upto the name of Golmaal at most levels. Does Golmaal 3 bring back the magic of the first outing? Sadly, it does NOT. Infact, it falls below the standards of Golmaaal Returns. It fails miserably on each and every cinematic aspect and does not initiate even one laugh from the viewer.

The basic problem of the movie lies in its scripting. Well into the second half of Golmaal 3, there’s a scene in which two sets of step-brothers sitting across from each other, play a game of miming what they’d like to shove into each others’ backsides. From candles and fruits to big lamps and potted plants, this gag goes on for a few minutes, just long enough to amuse you. It’s the funniest scene in the film, because nobody says a word throughout, and because the expressions of the actors are priceless as they react to the pain that must come from being sodomized by foreign objects. Following a pattern set by Golmaal Returns, this film is not so much about story or plot as it is about stretching a joke till breaking point. The whole cast spend their greater part of this film contorting their faces and delivering silly lines. The humor is strictly low-brow and slapstick, with repeated jokes about disability and speech impediments, and a running gags.

All actors are below-par except for Mithun and Tusshar. They manage to generate some laughs with their spoof acts. Music is way below average and so is every other technical aspect of the film. Rohit Shetty really needs to come up with brighter ideas and better humour if he intends to come up another movie for the series. This is not even roadside comedy. He cannot pass off scot-free year after year with this kind of shit.

Avoidable!

Rating - 0.5/5

Break Ke Baad could just have been the next level of Indian love stories

In Indian Film Industry, its hard to step into the genre of love stories. Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Veer Zaara, Jab We Met, DevD and Love Aaj Kal have been some of the milestones in this genre and with each passing year, it has become all the more difficult to come up with something new and refreshing in this genre. Yet, every second movie that is made in the industry attempts this genre and tries to create new standards for love stories by doing something different. Most of them fail and only a couple are actually able to create a mark. Break ke Baad, directed by debutant director Danish Aslam, is arguably very engaging and manages to take Indian love stories to the next level in totality. It is the best love story to come out this year for sure.

BREAK KE BAAD deals with space issues in a relationship, a much exploited and abused word used a lot in the present-day scenario. Space is almost like a break-up mantra and BREAK KE BAAD explores this concept rather than being a conventional love story. What works for the movie is the innate freshness with which the director deals with the issue and the character of Aaliya at the forefront, played by Deepika with great sensibility and maturity. Break Ke Baad also rests on an ensemble of characters and they live upto the expectation. The director punches in endearing moments to convey his thoughts on the relationship with a lot of light-heartedness. Abhay's journey (Imran's character) is pretty much a subplot to Aaliya's journey and this is what sparkles and nourishes the chemistry between the lead pair. The basic working point of the movie rests in Aaliyas character, she is believable and real-life girl. Abhay, maybe a little far-fetched and cinematic, still manages to convince you with his true love for Aaliya and willing to go any lengths for her. The film has a totally urban feel to it, and handles the relationship with metro sensibilities which might work against it for traditional family audiences but lets face it, these are real people from the youth of today. The conflicts between the couple and their treatment are lovable.

However, Break ke baad is not free of glitches. One fails to understand why the girl drops the guy like a hot brick. The film also runs out of ideas in the second half to keep the attention of the viewer but the last 20 minutes lift it up again. Aslam doesnt go overboard in handling their relationship, infact the point Abhay exits Aaliya's life, although underplayed, works well. Many sequences are handled exceptionally well by the director such as the one when Abhay comes back to manao Aaliya after their first spat, the scene when Aaliya earns her degree, the rooftop scene when both of them are drunk, Aaliya's birthday sequence and more.

The biggest forte of Break ke Baad is Deepika Padukone. She plays Aaliya with a confidence you haven't seen in her performances before, and creates a solid, believable character that's somewhat misguided but endearing nonetheless. Its easily her career best. She brings a lot of spontaneity and believability into the character and truly overshadowns the scene. Imran Khan, although shows improvement, but it still doesn not match up his performance in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. He is just a lovesick puppy and you tend to hate that fact sometimes. Lillette Dubey and Shahana Goswami are in the skin of their character. The music scores and Vishal-Shekhar deliver yet another feather to their cap. Cinematography is usual but dialogues are witty and make you smile.

In the end, Danish Aslam makes a respectable debut with an entertaining piece of cinema which can definitely qualify as the next generation of love stories, majorly backed by Deepika's performance. Watch it for its endearing qualities!

Rating - 3/5

Guzaarish works on many levels, not for the common man though

Sanjay Leela Bhansali comes back with a movie after three years, and after delivering a failed attempt Saawariya. Hrithik Roshan comes back with a movie after Kites, a hyped experiment which had rarely any content backing it. Loads of expectations from the film-maker, more from the actor. Perfect chance for both of them to come back with a bang and make a mark. Do they actually make it there? Does Guzaarish live upto its expectations? Well, it does make a mark on many levels but all those levels exclude the borders of commerical cinema.

Guzaarish continues to invest incessantly in the appearance of each frame and Bhansali again attempts a story that has the protagonist suffering from a serious disability. In GUZAARISH, Hrithik Roshan suffers from Paraplegia,and pulls off what could be one of the most challenging roles of his career and Aishwarya Rai, as his doting nurse. Guzaarish comes with a visual splendour and the viewer can literally feel Bhansali in each frame which is highly inspirational but it is definitely not his best work. Euthanasia is a delicate and controversial topic, almost untouched for Indian cinema although Bhansali borrows heavily from the Spanish movie, The Sea Inside including the underlying story plot. Guzaarish may have a larger than life feel to it, but it rests on a thinner plot than most other Bhansali movies, except for Saawariya. Yet, you cannot write off the effort Guzaarish puts in due to its honesty and the treatment by the director who manages to not let the movie disheartening or plain bore.

There are many instances that work for Guzaarish. My most favorite sequence in the movie is the first time Ethan (Hrithik's character) gets angry and his reaction after that which turns into laughter. It stands out along with the sequence in which Ethan helplessly sleeps all through the night with cold water pouring on him or maybe the sequence of Ethan's magic act going wrong resulting in a fatal accident. Despite earnest performances and Bhansali's attempts, Guzaarish fails outrightly for the common man. The extensive use of English in the narrative will never let it appeal on a pan-India level. The subject matter is complex and the issue may get boring for most who would not prefer sensitive cinema. The writing gets redundant at times which can test the patience of viewers.

Hrithik Roshan stands up to the character and delivers a stupendous performance. The feelings of intrigue, anxiety, helplessness, anguish and romance are portrayed to the T. Hrithik, thrown into a completely unusual role contrary to whatever he has ever done or been asked to do, dives into the character and exhibits maturity in each frame and carries Ethan forward with much aplomb. He is theatrical at times, which may not go down well but that does not affect his performance at all. Aishwarya Rai, for a change, delivers a very earnest performance, exudes dignity, elegance and the perfect sobriety required for Sophiya. The film seduces the viewer with a strong emotional quotient, soulful music and of course, the crackling and wonderful onscreen chemistry between Hrithik and Aishwarya. Aditya Roy Kapoor is a revelation. The guy comes in with his amazing stage experience and plays a pivotal character with a fresh flavor. Shernaz Patel and Makarand Deshpande are brilliant. All other characters are pretty much in skin and give the movie a solid ground based on performances. The music of the film catches on you slowly but stays with you for long. The dialogues and the one-liners win your heart. Special mention has to be made of Sudeep Chatterjee for his exceptional cinematography. Each frame has been shot like never before, giving you the perfect Goa feel, and a lot of thought has been put into creating enthralling visuals straight out of a fairy tale.

All in all, Bhansali takes a huge risk to have the hero of the film entirely on a wheel chair and portraying it with a lot of panache. Guzaarish will not work for the common man and it does not match upto his best works. There is a lot missing in it. Performances try hard but dont cover up for the missing content and the cinematic experience is incomplete due to excessive focus on the visuals. Its a enchanting tale and brilliant piece of art, but not a heart-winning cinema.

Rating - 3/5

Monday, October 4, 2010

Anjaana Anjaani just misses being one of the best love stories!

Anjaana Anjaani, directed by Siddharth Raj Anand, and produced by Nadiadwala Grandson Entertainment Productions, has so much potential to be one of the best love stories, and go down in history along with the all the legendary love stories ranging from Jab We Met to Love Aaj Kal. Anjaana aims and shoots the arrow in the right direction, but the arrow somehow misses its target when the movie ends. All this is due to the lack-lustre ultimate 30 mins of the movie. However, that would not allow me write it off as the movie has a lot to its merits, and topping it all are phenomenal performances by the lead pair - Ranbir and Priyanka who deliver one of their career best in not-so-author-backed roles. I tell you, both of them are destined for greatness.

Anjaana Anjaani works on many moments. The movie does not have an author-backed innovative storyline or something thats very out of the box to offer but theres something about it that keeps you glued to the screen. I really respect this one for making a brave attempt to deliver a feature film for a little more than 2 hours, in which there are only 2 characters from the first to the last frame and they still manage to keep your interest alive. Despite lacking in innovation, Anjaana captures your brainspace on more than one instance. The very first scene at the bridge, the Atlantic Ocean swimming sequence, the fake story sequence in club before the title song, Priyanka chopping her hair off in frustration, Ranbir walking off a party when he sees Priyanka dancing and enjoying without him showing his jealous love, the disco dancer sequence, Priyanka hugging Ranbir from behind as he is leaving, The Vegas hotel room sequence - Pure masterpiece moments!!

Director Siddharth Anand tries to go on a path that very less filmmakers dare to and I would not say that he succeeds entirely. The movie falls apart in the last 30 minutes when it not only falls prey to cliches, but also tends to drag the cliche and the audience can only get pissed off. It is very difficult to have a good response to the movie for a general moviegoer if the ending was a spoil. Direction falters and you feel irritated towards the end. On the contrary, the first 2/3 part of the movie everything is in place. Anand takes a major step as a director but I would still rate Salaam Namaste as his best work for some reason, or maybe even Bachna Ae Haseeno. Cinematography is superb, as a usual norm in all latest movies. Few shots on the bridge in NY, SF, The vegas hotel room shots and many more are worth mentioning.

Two aspects which need special mention are Music and Editing. Outstanding work. Salutations and heartfelt respect to Vishal-Shekhar for coming up with yet another exceptional album with all songs fairly above average. Editing of Anjaana is functional and adds a lot of flavor to the movie. Dialogues are funny, but totally matching the sensibilities of an Indo-american audience. Screenplay looses its fizz towards the end. Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra are the best achievers. Both of them deliver a performance that goes beyond excellence. Full points to them for that. All other characters in the movie are fairly irrelevant. Zayed Khan does a bad job even in few scenes. Other side actors are not even worth mentioning but they do not affect the movie in total as they are merely there for a scene or two.

All in all, Anjaana Anjaani is definitely not as bad as people might tell you it is. If you have a flavor for soft romantic comedies and you can feel from your heart, you should definitely go for it.

Rating - 3/5

Sud :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Dabangg is shameless fun!

Dabangg is possibly the most awaited Salman Khan movie of the movie of the year after the debacle of Veer, more so because the publicity and marketing of Dabangg has been more than most movies I have seen in the recent past. You look anywhere on TV, print media, hoardings etc. all you will find is Dabangg. This is Salman Khan starpower. Let's face it. A majority of cinegoers in India are idiotically Salman Khan fans, people for whom cinema is all about entertainment. They do not wish to apply their brains in a movie and they do NOT care if the movie has a storyline or cannot comprehend as much. All they want to do is to go into a theatre and re-assert their chauvinistic mindset that year after year, their hero in the movie behaves like a true hero who can possibly do anything. They go in to re-affirm that yes, its been a year and Salman can still do better stunts and kill more people. Through this write-up, I wish to urge those people to open up to real cinema and appreciate it.

So where does Dabangg stand? Honestly, I am not all negative about this Salman Khan starrer. Salman may have played a cop in 9 out of 10 movies he has done in his career but Dabangg is different and the movie will work big-time with the audience described above and beyond them also. Dabangg is slick, crisp, stylish and action-packed. Its a journey of shameless fun in which Salman is in top form. I can safely say, it took Salman 21 years to deliver a performance that would win my heart. Dabangg is shameless, because it does not care to rest on a storyline, infact it cares to rest on Salman and his histrionics. Dabangg is fun because all I was doing for those 2 hours was clapping at the one-liners or laughing at what Chulbul Pandey can do. The two biggest plusses for Dabangg are Salman Khan and the editing of the movie which has made the movie super-slick. Complete brainless entertainment package!

Dabangg tells the age-old story of a cop, his half-brother, estranged father, dead mother, simple girl, and a over-shadowing villain who is a politician. It has NOTHING new to offer except the character of Chulbul Pandey, a complete heart-winner. Chulbul is a delightful watch, he is corrupt but honest at heart. Its interesting to watch his relationship with his family, his fellow policemen, his rivals and his wife. It gives you the raw uncouth feeling coupled with someone who doesnt intend harm. Dabangg could have been much better had Abhinav, the director, focused on putting in more storyline content. The first half is very stagnant. The second half atleast dares to pitch in something different but what they offer is merely an excuse for a good story and its nothing out of the box. The action scenes are unrealistic from first reel to the last reel but they still make you laugh all through. The stunts have been co-ordinated very well. Direction is weak in most part but Salman tries to lift it up. Cinematography is good, if not great. I must mention again, the editing of the movie does wonders for it. Dialogues are cheap and those which would work well to invoke seetis and claps in all theatres, but they do strike a chord to develop the character of Chulbul who calls him Robin Hood Pandey. Music of the movie is actually good and is working well with the masses, however too many songs interrupt with the screenplay a lot. I also feel its redundant for Salman to dance on a song and call himself Dabangg, they should have rather used it as a background. Munni is a hit and the song is the only well fit in song of the screenplay. Lalit Pandit can take a bow for this composition.

Arbaaz Khan knew he had to cast Salman to pull off a no-brainer as a hit and he did it rightfully to ensure that his debut production venture is a hit. And yes, Salman does live Chulbul Pandey. I saw him in a never-before avatar. He is corrupt, lovable, bad-ass, cute, dumb, superman, uncouth all at the same time. He is the lifeline of this movie. Sonakshi Sinha is COMPLETELY wasted in her debut with a screen space of 15 mins maximum. Arbaaz does okay as the second lead. Mahesh Manjrekar, Anupam Kher and Vinod Khanna are very stereotypical. Mahie Gill is impressive in a short role. The other performance which would catch your eye is Sonu Sood as the villain. He has a physique that can match upto Salman and that works well for the movie to strengthen the character of the anti-hero. He delivers a very good performance, yet again and completely lives the young bihari politician in Chhedi Singh. I wish to see more of him in movies.

All in all, Dabangg is an entertaining movie which portrays Salman like never before. Leave your brains at home and go and enjoy for 2 hours. I would just call it a commercial pot-boiler and not even a masala movie due to the lack of content. The movie has already taken a big start and would continue to set more records considering the Indian audience and the love for Salman, who is truly in great form in this one.

Rating - 3/5

Sud :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Aashayein is a piece of shit!

Aashayein, directed by Nagesh Kukunoor, is one of the worst movies of all time which fails to make a point. Nagesh has held the name of delivering movies which maybe off-beat but are generally pretty good stroylines. Aashayein fails in all aspects of movie making almost, except music probably. The movie had no buyers for almost 2 years and it would have been better if it never released. I would rarely say that for a movie after all the effort that goes into movie-making but Aashayein doesnt leave me with a choice.

The storyline of Aashayein fails to make a point at all instances. The story of a dying man who wants to live his last days well is cliched and the treatment is worse. The story tries to pull of some supernatural stuff also along with a mini-Indiana Jones story. Its a schizophrenic script which doesnt hold your attention even once. John Abraham is not so convincing as the dying man and he the script fails him at more instances than he fails as an actor. All the other actors are not even worth-mentioning. Cinematography is average. Music of the movie is the only respite in this barren land. Salim-Sulaiman deliver a score which works well with the audiences of today and many songs have already become chartbusters. Director Nagesh Kukunoor gives his worst product till date in this movie. The story does not even reach a proper culmination and the viewer is left puzzled.

Strictly not recommended!

Rating - 1/5

Sud :)

We Are Family is a good film, but not for everyone!

The Indian Film Industry has held a tradition of taking scripts of obscure and not so obscure Hollywood movies and plagiarizing them illegally and making a hindi movie out of it and you realize this only when you actually see the movie. In this light, the 'official' Stepmom remake comes as a breather where the original rights were bought and the original screenplay re-worked to suit indian audiences. So the question is, does it live upto the Julia Roberts-Susan Sarandon starrer classic? Well, for me personally, it does and it also fares better. The last 10 minutes of We Are Family and the re-structured climax scores well above Stepmom.

We Are Family is not an average fare for many reasons. Dharma Productions has taken a bold step with this project. Long years ago, Dharma moved away from making family sob sagas to more entertaining and more realistic cinema with the likes of Dostana, Wake Up Sid and My Name is Khan coming in. Its been a while for the Indian Film Industry since it gave an outright family saga which gets you to shed more tears than you want to. I believe this is because Indian audiences have grown out of it and the youth today doesnt really wanna see a family drama or sit in a theatre to cry. Even if the movie is astoundingly well=made, they will fail to appreciate cinema and just pass a judgement on the movie sitting on the fence. In such a scenario, film-makers are scared to come up with something that strong on emotions. Comedy and cheap laughs, nice-looking locations and better looking actors have substituted everything else. People would love a brainless Wanted but not love a We Are Family which has its heart at the right place. This is what makes me say that We Are Family is NOT for everyone. Kudos to Dharma, KJO and Siddharth Malhotra for attempting it.

We Are Family stays very true to its orginal screenplay of Stepmom, but also adds an Indian Tadka to it. This Indian tadka gives it a few points above Stepmom. On the downside, the movie gets too dramatic at times but these are minor glitches. The music score is not upto the mark except for Reham-o-Karam which is a brilliant song. The cinematography is good, but could have been better considering they were shooting in Australia. Kajol is the hero of We Are Family. She has nothing left to prove as an actor but she still outdoes her past performances and brings life to Maya, more than anyone could do. Kareena Kapoor gets kinda over-shadowed by the mammoth performance of Kajol and she fails to re-live Julia Roberts completely. Arjun Rampal is good in a role strictly defined for him. The three kids are the best part of the movie specially Anjali and Aaliya. Anjali is a sweetheart and brilliant actor. Aaliya displays her emotions well.

Director Siddharth Malhotra picked up a difficult debut but does well to pack in the lighter moments with the heavier ones. The climax portions are brilliantly handled by him. KJo deserves a clap for making this happen. We Are Family is definitely better than most movies we see today. Its emotional, not depressing. Its heartful, not melodramatic. I think you should go for it for a change from routine cinema today. There has not been a movie that made me cry ever since Taare Zameen Par, and this one just did it for me. Haha, I may sound as if its a good thing to cry in movies, but truly, We Are Family will win the hearts of all families across India and abroad, not sure about the youth though.

Rating - 3/5

Sud :)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Lafangey Parindey is more than just an average fare. Find out why?

Yash Raj Films is a company that has not only lost its charm but also its position in the Indian film Industry in the last 2 years or so. I am not saying they haven’t made good films, its just that their films haven’t been able to retain their monopoly in the market, or maybe its just the corporate stepping in and better production houses coming up. But nevertheless, they have not stopped making films, and I can personally say, if not all, most of their films have been more than just worth a watch. They are still waiting for that one blockbuster which can get them back into business totally, which hasn’t happened since Chak De India. Maybe they need another with SRK!

So does Lafangey Parindey do it for Yash Raj? Well, not really. Lafangey is one of the films that could promise a lot but doesn’t deliver as much. However, to judge the film only on its merits, its more than a mediocre film and is definitely worth a watch. To come to the point straight, Lafangey has brilliant first half that unfolds at a feverish pace and sets you in the world of Mumbai Chaals and its people. The problem lies in its second half when the movie fails to move out of the clichés, to experiment and the script falls prey to predictability. Therein lies my problem with the movie. When you have a first half that tries to set a few points about the character of the lafangas and parindas of Mumbai streets, the second half turns them into bollywood puppets of predictable storylines. In all honesty, the movie experiences a downslide due to its choice to stick to a conventional been-there-done-that love story.

So what works for the movie? There are quite a few notable things that win the movie more ‘+’ than ‘-’. Pradeep Sarkar made Parineeta which was a masterpiece, he then made Laaga Chunari Mein Daag which was clichéd but nonetheless a well made movie. With Lafangey, he steps into a territory completely unknown to him and actually succeeds in creating a world which one could call alien to his movies, establishing a convincing canvas of the lukhhas and gundas of Mumbai streets and getting the viewer into their world and in turn expanding his own limits as a filmmaker. Full points to him for that. The first half of the movie, specially the first 25 minutes, completely sucks you into it. Sequences unfold at a fast pace and a lot of the story moves forward till intermission. The world of Chaals maybe a YashRaj sanitized version of it, but still works and the credit goes to the side characters who complement the world of Nandu and Pinky. Nandu’s guilt everytime he sees Pinky, Pinky’s outspoken nature and the constant desire to challenge herself, Nandu’s desire to get into the underworld and realizing very soon that he is not made for it, Pinkys constant challenge to Nandu are some instances that work for the movie. The only thing I liked in the second half was the elimination of any drama to catch Usman or bust his gang, instead they choose to stay true to the completion of their love story only. The hero does not have to set everything right in the end. Although, I have to mark Pinky’s realization towards the end is unconvincing and so is the treatment of the talent show as a part of the story, it just doesn’t reflect professionalism.

Neil Nitin Mukesh tries hard to convince you that he is a tapori and delivers an average performance mainly let down by his too-fair-to-be-indian looks and he struggles with his lingo and accent. Piyush Mishra is completely wasted. Kay Kay Menon and Namit Das are usual, though I still feel Namit has a lot of potential seeing him in Wake Up Sid. The performance that takes you by surprise is Pinky Palkar. Deepika Padukone gets ample scope and thankfully an equal share of scenes in Lafangey in contrast to her recent previous movies and she rises to the occasion to deliver a standout performance. She lives Pinky Palkar to give her career best till date. Excellent work. Music is good, but would stay for long with people. Cinematography is average which is a further letdown, dialogues are okay. On the whole, Lafangey Parindey has its share of shortcomings but nonetheless its an endearing watch for all Mumbaikars for its feel, for movie buffs to learn how to not screw up a good first half in the latter parts and all others for light-hearted entertainment.

Rating - 3/5

Sud :)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Peepli [Live] works?

Aamir Khan Productions’ presents Peepli [Live]. What are you thinking? Don’t your expectations increase inherently once you hear the name behind it? Well, lets face it. Aamir Khan Productions has taken a path where it has set standards for others to follow and they really cannot deliver anywhere below their mark. If you read and follow cinema, this endearing mini-budget has come back from Sundance Film Festival. To come to the point, director Anusha Rizvi’s social satire works for me, and works big time.

Peepli picks up a topic which projects from the biggest cause of death in India till date. Its not any ailment, its farmer suicide. Anusha hits fresh ground with this subject and builds a lovable piece of art on it. Social satire never got better for Indian film industry. Peepli is not your regular comic caper as it remains true to the village world of Peepli in every second of its running time. This was a big risk to take, but this also became their biggest asset. Choosing a truly village setting, staying honest to the language, the culture, the poverty, the misery, the paradox of India, the illiteracy and the innocence of the setting is very difficult and a million movies falter here. They show something or the other which the user cannot believe would end up happening in a village. Peepli carefully avoids it. Kudos to Anusha for that!

What works for Peepli? There are many countable instances. The old farmer who dies digging mud in his fields, the way he has been portrayed in merely three scenes, his physicality, his toil and his desperation, is the basic crux of the movie. The death of Rakesh, the Jan Morcha reporter, which is shown inexplicitly through his bracelet is a brilliantly handled sequence. The finale is a masterpiece due to its subtility and non-dramatic approach. The multiple close-ups of the villagers, Natha’s vulnerability, Amma’s redundancy, Dhania’s anger – all work together to get completely engrossed in the world of Peepli. Constant intrigue regarding Natha’s fate keeps you on the edge of your seat, except when you jump while laughing at the sheer brainlessness of the media reporters.

What doesn’t work for Peepli? A few instances. I feel the instances involving the media, although very funny, are a little overdone. I do not blame Anusha for this as the media today, really has no limits and possibly anything can qualify as news. Politics getting involved in Natha’s story, although required, goes a little too far and politicians look more corrupt explicitly than they do in real life. Not much to complain about.

Engrossing. Enlightening. Entertaining. The whole magic of satire lies in the fact that it doesn’t get preachy and full point to Peepli for that. Go for it today if you haven’t already!

My View - 4/5