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