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King December 29, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The last time there was a major dent in Sreenu Vaitla’s then moderately successful career was when he made Andarivadu with Chiranjeevi. I haven’t seen that film and so cannot comment on what probably went wrong there. His latest flick King coming after three successive hits (and obviously with a lot of expectations) almost proves that a big star can be jinxed for him. I said jinxed because everything seems right here but hardly anything works.

He has a nice plot (various inspirations/lifts notwithstanding) with umpteen situations promising potential guffaws but the end result is more like a Sreenu Vaitla jokes-falling-flat carnival. It’s a twist filled mistaken identity plot so I won’t bother writing about it. Most of the plot/scene/character inspirations come from Anil Kapoor flicks like Race, Khel and Welcome. The director seems to have done his homework in creating quite an amusing screenplay but you wish he had rather spent his time in creating some real humor. The funny moments are forced mostly while the cast also doesn’t quite pull it off a considerable number of times.

Vaitla seems to have been overawed by the presence of Nagarjuna – who is made to act as if every scene was his introduction sequence. He is constantly involved in stupid fight sequences and mouthing seemingly “punch(less) dialogues” –  which I feel is not quite his forte. It’s sad because Nagarjuna has his own unique and subtle comic timing which could have worked wonders for a movie like this but seems to have been sacrificed in favor of “appealing to the masses”. He’s looking great though (especially after Don). Also Vaitla’s star vehicle Brahmanandam gets a bland role which as everything else in the movie seems promising but doesn’t quite work. Srihari is the only one who manages to get a better written role. Trisha does the same old stuff. Devisri Prasad’s music is average and most importantly unwanted.

The director seemed to have loved his film so much that he disposed off with the editor; otherwise a film like this would not have a runtime of over three hours. King is a huge disappointment primarily because a majority of people who’d venture into it are likely to have Dhee, Dubai Seenu and Ready still fresh in their minds – if you are someone who hasn’t seen any of these then maybe you won’t feel too bad but I cannot really say if you’d like it. The director’s next one on the cards is with Venkatesh…so I am in two minds whether to be excited about it. Let’s hope Vaitla spends more time on his script than about figuring out how to present his “big hero”.

Fashion November 2, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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The best thing about Madhur Bhandarkar’s films is that as long as you don’t belong to the group of people he is caricaturing – it is a no-holds-barred guilty pleasure trip for the viewer who gets to see folks on high pedestals being brought down mercilessly. Bhandarkar has successfully used this formula in each of his three previous films (Page 3, Corporate and Traffic Signal). This time his focus is the “Fashion Industry” which no doubt provides ample material (probably more than all of this previous films combined) which Bhandarkar is an expert at handling. And yes…he leaves no stone unturned as he throws light on the troubled souls, depraved lifestyles and what not! The director also could only sneak only at most a couple of gay characters in each of his previous films but it’s a dream come true for him and except for Arbaaz Khan (who plays the head honcho of a leading Fashion firm), every designer (without exception) is a homo.

Fashion traces the story of a highly ambitious girl Meghna (Priyanka Chopra) from Chandigarh, who against the wishes of her dad (Raj Babbar) comes to Mumbai with the dream of becoming a supermodel. As expected she finds out everything isn’t so rosy but still the whirlwind success she has goes to her head until everything comes down falling like a pack of cards.Through her journey we also witness the lives and troubles of other people she comes in contact with.

The biggest USP of Fashion is that a lot of real life incidents/people where it takes inspiration from – is the stuff which makes TRPs on news channels hit the roof. No wonder it is all the more interesting when you see it unfold on the big screen. And before you get all too enthused let me warn you there is a big BUT – I still find it hard to digest how the director absolutely loses track about what he wants to convey through the film. A litte comparison with his other films would do good here. Each one (Page 3, Corporate and Traffic Signal – to an extent) involves the journey of the protagonist through a certain industry/lifestyle who ends up completely disillusioned/victimized while the industry/lifestyle in question is laid threadbare. The way these films end was the most appealing part to me (but I know lot of people who aren’t comfy with abrupt, inconclusive and bleak endings).

At the beginning of Fashion you see that Meghna’s father is opposed to her being a model (which we assume is for the usual reasons) but when she ruins herself and comes back home the same guy is now encouraging her to not lose hope, take up the profession again and “fight back”. Almost all through the movie you see the Fashion Industry being ridiculed but the moral of the story at the end seems to be – as long as you don’t take success to your head everything is pretty much fine here – talk about U-turns! Even if you cannot ignore this hard-to-ignore fact Fashion still has Bhandarkar’s masala-realism stamped all over it and except for the somewhat prolonged penultimate portions it keeps you entertained.

There’s a huge cast (with known and unknown faces) but it’s the ladies who rule the roost. Priyanka gets a powerful author-backed role and she does full justice to it. Definitely should be the first choice of this year’s awards simply going by the screen time alloted to the protagonist. Kangana was born to play Shonali. I cannot imagine anyone who can come close to her with a role like this. There are a few sequences where even Priyanka gets to do a similar act – compare her and Kangana and you’ll know what I am talking about. Debutant Mughda Godse is very impressive. Given this is a Madhur Bhandarkar film – the over-the-top gay portrayals are expected and shouldn’t be a reason to cringe. The short background piece (Salim-Sulaiman) which keeps playing throughout is nice.

I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed watching this flick even though at the end I came out with a strong tinge of disappointment at the back of my head. Keeping this aspect in mind, go watch Fashion and I promise you won’t regret it.