Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fukrey is largely a funny film

Fukrey, produced by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani under Excel Entertainment, is a small little film that came out this weekend. The first trailer did invite me to watch the film, specially with the compelling Delhi (read Daehli) flavor that it reeked of. But then it looked like another coming of age story of 4 young guys who are out to have some fun. The music album struck a chord with one delectable song by a brilliant singer. And then it chose to clash with the magnam-opus, Man of Steel. Sometimes I wonder aloud the reasoning behind the decision, irrespective of how average Man of Steel was. Fukrey works for most parts, and provides you enough moments of bursting laughter as well.

Directed and co-written by first timer Mrighdeep Singh Lamba, Fukrey is positively not the run of the mill coming of age story. In fact, it is sort of like a heist film built around a leap of faith. Screenwriters Vipul Vig and Lamba draw you into the world of four nobodies in Delhi, two of which are friends (Hunny and Choocha) from before but the pack comes together for one common reason, to make some quick cash. A wily female don, funnily named Bholi Punjaban, comes on board, to invest in their idea, and when the plan foils, to lynch their guts. A simple plot, profuse of fresh ideas and premises, Fukrey benefits from genuinely hilarious set pieces and one marvelously sketched character, but the suffers from a lack of coherence in its plot where not all pieces fall together in communion. The writers invest their heart and soul into building up four interesting characters who arent necessarily friends from before and the efforts do pay off well. Rooted well in the nuances of a Delhi-ite, our leads are thoroughly enjoyable with all their shameless notoriety, frequent swanning and continuous fallibility. Choocha, played by Varun Sharma, stands out and how. A delicious character churned out of a sidekick role length evokes generous laughs every time he talks. Bholi Punjaban is a fresh take on the characters of female dons, aided more by acting than writing. But Fukrey never leaves you in stasis. Continual banter between Hunny and Choocha, or the track involving the third guy, Lali, in a repetitive alterations of a situation where in he loses some part of his motorcycle are intoning of a much better writer in Lamba. How one wishes an equal focus was given to cover some loose ends of the plot and this one would be a winner! 

Fukrey has been mounted tremendously well by Excel Entertainment with Farhan and Ritesh themselves showing up for most promotions. Ram Sampath's musical capture of the Delhi milieu is pretty accurate, with Ambarsariya being the covert gem in Sona Mohapatra's voice. Mohanan's cinematography is easy on the eyes, while Anand Subaya has used his editing knife well. The spot-on casting by Honey Trehan must be credited heavily to make this film work and lend a certain melange to every dialogue. The acerbically sweet dialogues only accentuate the setup and you will find yourselves laughing for many minutes on atleast four instances.

Pulkit Samrat (Hunny), Varun Sharma (Choocha), Manjot Singh (Lali) and Ali Fazal (Zafar) - the four leads are a riot together, with Sharma easily taking the cake followed by Manjot and Samrat. Running with roughly the same role sizes, the boys are a raging river in flood delivering spirited performances that palpably match the tone of the film. The surly words flow in with the mayhem of immatures and what you witness is some real new talent out there, save for Manjot Singh who has already proved himself many a times. Richa Chadda's Bholi Punjaban oscillates between superb and choppy for me, where in the character loses its own skin due to inept writing. Pankaj Tripathi's vast reserves of acting are under-utilized as the college gatekeeper who has a jugaad for anything. 

On the whole, Fukrey is a slice of life film with a fresh premise and characters which doesnt quite hit the spot due to incoherence. It is still a reason enough to watch for Lamba's next venture. It has opened low on the Box Office but I am hoping that some word of mouth will help this little film against a strictly okay Hollywood biggie. Watch it for the earnest efforts and some genuine hilarity!

Rating - 3/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 struggles to be funny

Yamla Pagla Deewana 2 came out in the theaters this weekend, like we really needed it to. The inexorable desire of the Deols to poke more fun of themselves, stemming from the partial success of the first part. While its predecessor was a prudish attempt at a hair-brained laughathon, this one is reduced to an exercise in pointlessness. Once in a while, I am okay with some shlocky silliness as long as it is able to evoke cheap laughs, at least. But alas, in their maniacal attempt to repeat the formula, the Deols serve us a bovine affair.

Produced by Dharmendra himself under Sunny Sounds Pvt Ltd and YPD Films Ltd UK, the film barely has any laudable technical finesse to boast of. Music by Sharib-Toshi is uninspired save for the title track, while Editing, Cinematography and all other departments slither into shame. Still looking smashing at 70 something, veteran actor Dharmendra is meekly the best part of the film. Heralded otherwise by the jittery hands of director Sangeeth Sivan, YPD2 suffers from unoriginal writing. You will wait through the painfully long runtime of over 150 minutes to laugh out loud, but this rollicking glob of below average cinema will rob you of your hope royally. The single standout sequence of laughter is Dharmendra bonding with a monkey. Sigh, so much for a sequel! 

To be fair to YPD2, the humor being squirted on your face isn't particularly puerile or innuendo-laden, but it is agonizingly lame and phenomenally flat. The plot follows father-son, Dharam (Dharmendra) and Gajodhar (Bobby Deol) as they set out to con a UK-based Indian businessman Khanna (Annu Kapoor) by marrying his daughter (Neha Sharma) while being unaware that he is under debt and the bank has sent their own kin, Paramveer (Sunny Deol) to recover this money. Amidst these familiar trajectory lie some marvelously misplaced parallel tracks of an orangutan, called Einstein, living in their house, a distraught attempt at Salman Khan fandom and a mindless scientist, named Dudeji (Anupam Kher) trying to 'invent' new wonders of the world with this pack of fools. Out of the above, Kher's track is appallingly bad. Even if you leave your brains at home, the dumb proceedings will marauder the empty spaces that used to be occupied by your brains earlier. Largely spending its time trying to be funny, YPD2 is insipid and low on entertainment. 

What the film does well is to retain the characters developed from the first part and elaborate them to align with the popular antics each of the Deols is known for. Dharmendra gloriously walks through delivering the cheekiest lines, while Sunny's Param is derived from his action image once again. Bobby Deol serves as the jester, often aided by obtrusively garish attire. Neha Sharma and Kristina Akheeva, the actresses, have as much idea about the film as its director or its writers (Lynda Deol, Shubhangi Rathod and Jaswinder Bath). Annu Kapoor must be hanging his head in shame for signing on for this after his stint in Vicky Donor last year. What convinced veterans such as Anupam Kher and Johnny Lever to join the party will be a mystery to be explored in YPD3, maybe.

In all honesty, I had higher hopes from the trailer of this film since its prequel worked as a guilt pleasure. But this derailed attempt chides at my childishness. The film has opened very well on Friday but I do not expect it to sustain, considering the best lines are already delivered in the trailer. Like Param's character in the movie gets signals from God in his daily life in the form of a temple bell, I hope the bell rings hard on the ears of the Deols and we dont see a third one. 

Alas, there is only star in the film, Dharmendra!

Rating - 1/5

Originally published at MadAboutMoviez here

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a good one time watch

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani, a film that everyone I know is voraciously waiting to see, first day first show in theater. No second thoughts there. Such is the marketing prowess of Dharma Productions and Karan Johar. The message is out there and precisely succinct. Come have fun and celebrate life! Indian audience savors any such proposition to drain out any stress or wear from a week full of work or otherwise not-so-happy moments. From the first trailer to all the song promos to its release, while the message was clear, everything about the movie seemed formulaic and run of the mill, save for being glossed up. Ayan Mukerji, who gave us Wake Up Sid in 2010, seemed somehow to be succumbing to popular idiosyncrasies and campy treatments. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani plays out like another effervescent coming of the age story, and the fun never stops, but its hard to be completely generous to it, despite the camera focusing on Deepika's eyes every now and then.

Credited with the story and screenplay of the film, Ayan Mukerji follows a similar trajectory of his hero coming into his own over the course of the movie aka chasing his dreams versus chasing the people with whom you can live the dreams. Despite an unoriginal arc to the whole film, the film benefits a lot from postcard packaging and striking performances. To put it simply, Ayan Mukerji pulls off an Imtiaz Ali, almost, but he lacks the editing Ali has in his movies. YJHD works  despite its overtly long runtime of more than 150 minutes and multiple unnecessary songs and dances, mostly because of a subtle realistic feel to it. The characters travel far and wide to fall in love, shed their hangups and inhibitions to live an adventurous life, go through concocted family issues and magnanimous indian weddings, ultimately to drive home the point that one should live in the present and that there is a time for everything. Also, nurturing relationships is always more important than chasing dreams. The predictability is hackneyed and infectious, but convincing nonetheless. 

Despite immaculately inhabiting the premise of a million love stories, YJHD possesses the wisecrack to make this mushy formula run well. The equation between the three friends, Ranbir, Kalki and Aditya, as it matures through its inherent ups and downs over the course of 8 years is endearing and fresh and credits to Mukerji who gives ample scope to each of their individual relationships as well. Friendship isnt forever if you dont invest in it, and every love story does not meet its happy end. Relationships dynamics change with different people having different priorities, and Mukerji smartly portrays this with much panache. The fluff and fur laces every frame with millions of endearing and misty-eyed moments but the proceedings never make you cringe as practicality is not thrown out of the window. The ending scene where all of the leads are at different places and yet together over the phone on New Year's Eve says a bunch about the ideology Mukerji set out with. Yet, YJHD lacks the immense maturity that Wake Up Sid came with and remains another formula done well. 

Produced by Dharma Productions, YJHD could not have asked for a more deft production with every screen beautifully lit up and captured by V. Manikandan and every song a chartbuster by Pritam. While my pick of the lot are Kabira and Balam Pichkari, there is definitely not a single song in the album that will not induce repeat hearings, phenomenally helped by Amitabh Bhattacharya's quirky palpable lyrics. Not only the music, Pritam does a glorious job with the film's background score which stands out unlike many other times. Editing by Akiv Ali is a bit tardy. Nandini Shrikent's casting is spot on and is probably the film's biggest asset. Production Design by Rajnish Hedao and Amrita Mahal reeks of abundant cash flow to trigger the right impact of grandeur. Apart from Mukerji's screenplay, the film comes alive truly by Hussain Dalal's dialogues which barely miss a note in making you smile from ear to ear. The songs are choreographed credulously down to every beat and its a treat to see the glossy revelry on screen. 

Ranbir Kapoor is an actor-star, actor first. He is at a stage in his career where he can make minimal wrong choices to continue his soaring flight towards awesomeness. With YJHD, he seemed to have made that dreaded wrong choice before its release. But once you watch the movie, you cant be cantankerous towards him even if you wish to because he just goes that extra mile for an slippery script too. Pouring his sweat out into every single dance move to being the carefree traveller cum flirt to being the lost soul towards the second half, his screen presence is cartoonishly charming and stunningly overruling. Deepika Padukone continues to grow as an actress and as a monument of sheer adulation for her beauty, well, I did have to say that, didnt I?. As Naina, she brings the right transition in the character over the movie and matches well up with Ranbir. Yet, she needs to break out from love stories and foray into another dimension, almost intentionally now. Kalki Koechlin and Aditya Roy Kapoor are brilliantly cast for their parts as they lift the film from its mediocre script. Kalki does well to be funky as well as mature, and Aditya strikes the right note as the friend who somewhere lost track. Dolly Ahluwalia, Kunal Roy Kapoor and Tanvi Azmi make assured cameos but it is legendary actor Farooque Sheikh who robs the limelight in just two scenes. 

On the whole, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a cheerful affair that will bring a lot of happiness to you this weekend. The film has opened big and with the astounding buzz enveloping it, it is bound to rake in numbers. It is not clunky or unrealistic, yet it is nothing out of the box and takes you back well in time to Karan Johar style romance. Mukerji proves that he can handle the ordinary with a nuance too. And Ranbir proves that though this may not take him to the next level, it doesnt hurt his career graph. But I would have expected a lot more from this filmmaker. Watch it for the sizzling performances and some more life gyaan, all told with much fun !

Rating - 2.5/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here