Saturday, September 14, 2013

Zanjeer Movie Review : Shamefulness abounds!

Apoorva Lakhia's Zanjeer. This is one hell of an unintentionally hilarious film. Sample this.

1. Every time Ram Charan's take on the iconic character of Vijay Khanna goes out to beat some goons, they orchestrate a BG of 'Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram'. Satyagraha much?

2. Vijay gets nightmares of horsemen and people with 'scary looking' knives reminding him constantly of a dreaded incident earlier in his life. Some Bhaag Milkha Bhaag? Also, it turns out the 'dreaded incident' never involved any horsemen.

3. Priyanka Chopra's Mala is a police witness in a murder who is given a lot of money to go out and shop when her life is in danger. Also, when does get out of the house, she suddenly discovers an accent, considering she is coming from USA. Not only that, Vijay, who told her to shop, apparently freaks out at her roaming around free.

4. NRI girls from America come to India to dance on cheap innuendo laden songs at their friends weddings in India.

5. Being a rightful citizen, if you see an illegal activity, you start capturing it on your phone camera, albeit that risks your life tremendously. 

6. When a police officer is suspended from his duties due to an inquiry, the decision is proclaimed to everyone in front of the media clicking pictures.

7. A 'highly threatening' oil mafia, Prakash Raj's Teja, has barely any control over his tongue or his business, calmly residing in his mansion and shouting empty threats. 

8. Seemingly, as a journalist, it is wise to tell your sworn enemy the exact cover story you are doing on him exposing his fast and giving him the opportunity to kill you.

9. A kid cannot recognize his dead father even after seeing his morgue as the corniest dialogues are delivered to convince a witness to overstay in the country, almost to the point where her dad forgets worrying about her.

10. The crackdown of the oil mafia is like a child's play where in there is no real explanation of how it works or how it is busted. Apparently, beating up a couple of the villain's associates and walking with them into the office of the Police commissioner is enough. 

...and I can go on and on.

What is wrong with this world? 

This slushy hogwash of a film has not one inspired moment in its runtime of 140 minutes or so. A guilt ridden drama, the film fails to escalate any issue it boasts of. The core conflict is lost in the screenplay with much convenience and brought back at one's own ease whenever needed, giving way to shamefully placed 'romantic' or 'comic' tracks. Characters such as Sher Khan (Sanjay Dutt) experience the same incoherence. An acerbic imitation, Zanjeer is unadulterated horse manure for most parts which pokes fun of itself by showing iconic scenes from the original also. To top it all, Lakhia and his writer Suresh Nair, load the film with crassest of craptastic ugly lines such as "Mona Darling, apna moonh sirf ek cheez ke liye kholna please”, or Woh mera dost hai. Aur waise bhi Hindustan mein sher aur dost, dono ki kami hai”, or " How about a happy ending? Kyuki iske baad main sirf tumhari ending ki guarantee le sakta hoon, happy hone ki nahi". People break into a song for no real reason and illegal car dealers turn good without much explanation, after a comedic action sequence. Lakhia's Zanjeer is genuinely deprived of anything to feel good about. What a shameful imitation of the original!

It appalls me to discover that this horrendous felony is committed by Prakash Mehra's own sons who have produced the new film, along with Flying Turtle Films and Rampage Motion Pictures. Technically, Zanjeer reeks of waxy sensibilities that have become a rarity in modern Indian cinema. Cacophonic background scores, unnecessarily zooming cameras, sleazy songs and what not. Welcome back to the ugly 80s, under the pretext of entertaining 70s. Thwarting and crippling the film further are its actors. Ram Charan's Vijay lacks the balls of Bachchan and Chopra's cutesy gibberish can only engage you so much. Dutt's Sher Khan is trite beaten to dislike by the jarring re-doing of a legendary song sequence towards the second half. Prakash Raj is ruining his own talent reserves in such puerile roles and he does not leave a mark on Ajit's Teja. Mahie Gill, the immensely gorgeous and talented actress, must have been paid tons to sign on the dotted line for an inconsequentially played down Mona Darling, who is slyly brought down to a clumsy mistress. And Atul Kulkarni, it is really okay to not do a movie than to do one like this.

Apoorva Lakhia was never a great director and with Zanjeer, he sinks to deep abhorrence. There is nothing memorable about his venture and this placid film will leave you benumbed. If the masses go for this one too, it will be a shame on our industry!

Rating - 1/5

Originally published for MadAboutMoviez here

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Shuddh Desi Romance Movie Review : Step aside morality, come in reality

Jaideep Sahni. What a guy!

Believe it or not, there is no other writer in the industry who is more surgically detailed and so stunningly engaging than Sahni. He is an institution in himself and it would be a treat for anyone to read his scripts, given a chance. Artistry and technique make up compelling cinema, but nothing can replace a sprawling assiduously written screenplay which inevitably, and jaw-droppingly, lays out every little-est thing you are supposed to shoot as a director. Long immersing conversations, disturbingly real grasp on the pulse of his characters originating from real life and a delightful take on a concept via his observations - Jaideep Sahni proves it once again that he may take his time, but his fictive escapades dont reek of blubbery froth or campy shlock. 

Screw you everyone who did not watch Rocket Singh : Salesman Of The Year or Khosla Ka Ghosla, delectably penned by Sahni's genius.

SDR was equipped to haul the audience into its odd space from the first promo itself making all of us rife with anticipation. The songs worked big time and the promotional campaign was fresher than the smell of first rains. The cast was unanimously intoning a win in their kitty. But being a virgin territory for Sahni, SDR raised some doubts in one's head. Dispelling the doubts, he fillips the correct note with this one which is almost an anti-thesis of most products from Yash Raj Films. Too much bravado!

Now, Maneesh Sharma. The man who gave us Band Baaja Baraat. How could he go wrong? But then he did with Ladies Vs Ricky Bahl, a film trying too hard to cash in on the impish success of the former. With Shuddh Desi Romance, he makes a surreal comeback into his native space, ably riding on Sahni's back. It is not a glitch free film, let me affirm that at the onset, but more on that later. But is a ballsy take on the fakeness that has seeped into the institution of marriage and established cultural morality in Indian society. It is a shocker for the typical movie going audience of India who hold their derived morals close to their heart, but it is smartly handled under the garb of a black comedy by Sharma. I am not campaigning for SDR under the pretext that it overthrows the established systems of marriage and love, but because it scores in many parts. When was the last time you saw a montage consisting of non-humans enacting out the lyrics of a song? The title sequence has monkeys and pigeons doing what the lyrics are talking. So much for setting up the milieu. When was the last time you were not taken around a city without the camera acting like the eyes of a tourist guide? The city of Jaipur is a part of the script so much that you dont feel that the characters belonged elsewhere. Moreover, Sharma drains SDR of every drop of melodrama, in the most susceptible plot points as well. No sad songs, no remorse, no guilt for non-committal people or indecisive characters. Some sequences are repeated with stunning nuance highlighting the dynamics of the situations with so much ease. Lastly, when was the last time you saw a dialogue heavy film that kept it constantly engaging? Yes, we have all of this here.

As astute as it may have wanted to be, Shuddh Desi Romance does run out of steam in the last 30-40 minutes when there seems to be a dearth of fresh ideas in the plot. The lines are still terrific, but there is not much meat to accompany them. Love is confusing and demanding, but it may get a bit too much in a film as the characters take too long to drive home the point that some of us out there may just not be made for marriages. Randomness may add to the real nature of the proceedings but it does rob the film of a masterstroke impact in the final act. Yet, there is much to like here. No societal drama, no inhibitions, no cliches and no campy notions.

Yash Raj Films is largely responsible for breeding the idea of love as it exists in millions of Indians around the world. Yet, SDR is a welcome departure from their own school and they have been much sport about it. Some brilliant editing by Namrata Rao does not let the film slip even when the story skids. Notoriously fresh score by Sachin Jigar adds immense flavor to the film without the songs being a hindrance ever with Gulabi being the pick of the lot. Abid T.P. and Rashmi Sethi (Production Design and Art Direction). The water cooler, the chai, the gulab jamun. Sigh! Varsha Shilpa's Costume Design is pitch perfect with all those shirts which only people from Rajasthan would wear. But the real finesse was achieved by Sahni who is responsible for all the writing bits, including the lyrics.

And now Shanoo Sharma's (Casting Director) pack of actors. Sushant Singh Rajput plays Raghu, an indecisive lover who compulsively falls in love faster than the blink of an eye. Rajput, riding high on this year's earlier release Kai Po Che, only grows as an actor. He obliterates the bar of the guy next door and is seamlessly adorable. Vaani Kapoor proves yet again that YRF scouts some great talent from the thousands of actors out there. What a find! As Tara, she lends the right candor and vulnerability to the character, apart from being the more reasonable part of the trio. But it is the indefatigable and frivolous Gayatri of Parineeti Chopra that is the soul of the film. Much alinged with her shtick in previous films, Chopra still manages to inject innovation and deliver some striking work, possibly her best yet. Rishi Kapoor is on a roll coming out with a movie every other month, all with such diverse characters. As Goel Saab, he is funny as hell and provides the contrasting philosophy in the film. 

Shuddh Desi Romance is a motif-laden dark and funny take on our society. A good comeback by Maneesh Sharma, it also establishes Sahni as undisputed king of penning a film via dialogue. It may suffer from a few hiccups in its second half but does not get derivative even then, and to top it all, it is thoroughly hilarious. What else do you want to escape, all ye massy audience? A lot of people are getting annoyed with the lack of decision of its characters, from what I hear, and they are attributing it to the lack of a 'story'. So much hypocrisy there when we are like that in our real lives. But no, we love to see a Satyagraha that preaches us all about the development of our country but never implements it. On the contrary, here is a little film questioning your morality itself and has a lot of fun while doing it. Give it a try, this is the new cinema we should want to see and promote as it perfects itself. An extra half star for the super dialogues here!

Rating - 3.5/5

Originally published at MadAboutMoviez here