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Peepli Live! August 15, 2010

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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While some early reviews would have me believe that this film is some sort of masterpiece, it isn’t quite so. Taking off on an interesting premise based on farmer suicides in India, the film manages to touch on quite a few aspects but where it succeeds most is in depicting the media circus. Debutant writer-director Anusha Rizvi manages to lampoon round-the-clock television news coverage in numerous scenes (most strikingly through one reporter’s in-depth coverage of the main protagonist Natha’s feces) more effectively than a film like Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann.

The film is filled with entertaining moments, many stemming from irony. However, the levity that dominates the film makes it hard to connect on an emotional level with a tragic situation. What could have been a thought-provoking take ends up just managing to bring attention to the issue. I was more moved by a single scene in Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades depicting the plight of a poor farmer than this film in its entirety.

But maybe that was what Rizvi and producer Aamir Khan had aimed for. In that case, they’ve succeeded in delivering a nice little film here. Devoid of usual commercial elements, Peepli Live still manages to be an entertaining outing at the movies with a novel plot, a realistic setting that is captured quite nicely and some natural performances from mainly unknown actors (except for Raghubir Yadav and Naseeruddin Shah, whose shoes could have been easily filled by someone else).

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Love Sex aur Dhokha March 22, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Articles, Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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After being successfully deployed in Hollywood Horror flicks (and firmly embarked on the path of overkill), the lost-footage-from-camera genre finally makes its debut in Bollywood – and a smashing one at that. And no….this isn’t about any unknown entity spooking you out in the end but a grindhouse format 3-movies-in-1 tale of Love, Sex and Dhokha.

More in line with his last film, rather than the plot or even the format – the beauty about LSD are the wonderful characters created by Banerjee (equally well performed by all the actors). The plot hardly qualifies to be called a thriller but it is just too engrossing to take your eyes off it even for a minute. The way the three stories are interlinked is also great. LSD is truly path-breaking cinema and Dibakar Banerjee is a genius….period.

But beware… if you are planning the watch the movie only for the much publicized “scandalous scenes” you’ll be really pissed (like I noticed a lot of people were).

PS: The end credits which come in with the title track were cut-off at the edges of the screen. At first I thought, it was some issue with the projection system but when that effect was visible simultaneously at all parts of the screen….it seemed like a deliberate grindhouse effect. Somehow, that seemed lame in an otherwise great flick.

My Name is Khan March 12, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Along with rom-coms, movies with the backdrop of “terrorism” have in general been on my must-not-watch list – I hate both genres for similar reasons….unbearable cliches to be exact. Though Karan Johar has not lost his knack to entertain his second directorial foray into “serious” cinema slowly and regrettably turns laughable and cringeworthy like his previous flick. MNIK is still a very watchable film purely because of Shah Rukh Khan but his magic too wears out towards the end.

When I saw the first look of the film a couple of months back, the fact that the story and screenplay are credited to a certain Ms. Shibani Bhatija made the alarm bells in my head work overtime. In the past even seasoned film-makers who have handled “terrorism” haven’t moved beyond the stereotypes so it is wrong to expect K Jo-Shibani to do something groundbreaking. Surprisingly, the protagonist’s condition is not used to manipulate the audience and that’s just the one commendable aspect of the film. There are also a few well crafted moments when the film has to say something about discrimination but mostly goes overboard.

Most people have gone way out praising the movie – at least during the time of its release but now that the film has been reduced to a “medium hit” from “blockbuster” you know better. Still, watch MNIK for Khan.

3 Idiots March 12, 2010

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I love Rajkumar Hirani’s brand of “feel good cinema with a message”. I wish more young filmmakers made such films. This was a very well planned and executed film. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I’d love to watch it again. Kudos to Hirani and co-writer Abhijat Joshi, the cast (especially Aamir Khan, Boman Irani and Omi Vaidya), composer Shantanu Moitra and lyricist Swanand Kirkire (loved the Give Me Some Sunshine number). Since the film has received enough praise (and it has been a while), I’ll focus elsewhere.

If there is one thing I truly wish the film hadn’t done, it is the deification of the Rancho character. I mean, come on! In the past, Hirani carefully made his characters and situations idealistic without going over the line but this time he crosses it some.

Then there is the issue of credit to Chetan Bhagat. They did borrow the theme from his book (that doesn’t mean he deserves credit for the success of the movie) and they did tuck the name away in the end credits somewhere (did they feel like Bhagat was going to walk away with the credit? I’m sure Aamir gets the most credit even if Raju is the most deserving). So yes, I think the makers are clearly to blame for hiding his name.

And finally, I’ve always felt that it is hard to adapt a book for the screen and make it seem better than the book or equally as good for the readers. This is because when you read the book, you create this world in your mind. It is hard for anyone to recreate that personal experience. Another huge roadblock is the restrictions on duration that do not allow filmmakers to capture the content or the detail to the extent that a reader would like. So, whenever someone tells me that a film is not as good as a book, I never take them seriously because not everyone seems to understand or take into account the differences between the two media and the process and the limitations that come with the territory.

Having read the book, I had some mixed feelings while I watched the film. I had to consciously brush away the memories. In the end, they were two separate experiences, both of which I enjoyed thoroughly.

Rann February 5, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Ramu’s take on the media looks more like a Bhandarkar-esque affair – still it works because the film doesn’t compel you to take it seriously. This is a theme whose Bollywoodization was long overdue and even if the end result seems inexcusably dumbed-down, it is still fairly engaging. I actually loved Paresh Rawal as the vile politician – it’s been so long since he has played a role like this. Even though it is hands down the most throwback eighties character you’ve probably seen on screen these days.

My favorite nevertheless was Mohnish Behl – as the scheming head-honcho of a news channel he is top class – would love to see him more on the big screen. Sudeep, Suchitra and Rajpal Yadav are also impressive. Surprisingly the lead characters – Amitabh and Ritesh are the most uninteresting characters of the entire enterprise. The latter especially plays the dumbest investigative journalist ever – somebody please tell him that there is a silent mode on a cell phone, a rear view mirror to a car and that it is possible to make copies of DVDs.

Rann is far from being among RGV’s better films, still it makes the cut when you compare it with his more recent ventures. Worth a look.

Veer January 28, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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You might have seen the savage bashing this flick has received till now, so I’ll skip that part and write about a few redeeming things about Veer. For starters, when he isn’t sleepwalking through a movie Salman can pull off just about anything and Veer is a perfect example of that. No, it’s far from being a good film but ironically it’s camp quotient works to an extent to make it to the watchable category.

Honestly, I don’t know how Anil Sharma’s Gadar became such a huge hit but the only thing which I actually liked about the film is that one song (Udja Kale Kawa) – which keeps popping up at crucial moments and somehow (unintentionally) seemed to capture the true essence of the film (which was non-existent in the first place). Anil Sharma successfully repeats that in Veer with a couple of numbers – Surili Akhiyon Wali and Kanha – and that’s why I actually liked the film more than I had wanted to. Indeed, the surprise really are Sajid-Wajid who come up with an overall winning score. Apart from the two numbers mentioned before there’s the wonderful “Meherbaaniyan” track – equally well filmed (isn’t is unthinkable not to have an energetic Salman dance number!!!).

Well…that’s pretty much what I liked about the film. Coming to the performances, except for Mithun and Salman none make an impact. I would love to see both of them together again in a better film. I wouldn’t really recommend this film to anyone – except maybe for a Salman Khan fan (or if you happen to share to my quirks for Anil Sharma’s musical money-shots).