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London Dreams November 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When I was glancing around reviews for this film I came across many people complaining about how this is an awful “rip-off” of Amadeus. Agreed, that the basic characterizations of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan are inspired from the latter film’s protagonists but calling that a remake or a rip-off makes me wonder if they actually have seen that film. Another recurring complaint is about how it fails to match Rock On!! – well…why on earth does one expect it be a Rock-On!! when the makers never promised anything like that.

Anyways, Vipul Shah’s latest directorial venture is a suprisingly effective old-school tale about friendship and jealousy. It doesn’t take much time for anyone to realize that the whole rock-band thing is nothing more than a backdrop to this story. Arjun (Ajay Devgn) – an extremely ambitious guy whose sole aim in life is to perform at Wembley. However, as he comes closer to acheiving his dream his limelight is effortlessly stolen by his carefree childhood friend Mannu (Salman Khan) – who ends up dealing a double blow by wowing the crowds and wooing his girl. Arjun decides to get back at Mannu by bringing him down in everyone’s eyes – albeit he also has guilt pangs for doing the same.

Most of the film is quite breezy and a lot of fun while not deviating much from the main plot but it gets rather inconsistent (and ineffective) when things start getting a bit serious. Yet, one has to applaud Vipul Shah for the mature way in which he handles the last portions of the film (especially if you’ve seen in his last two films how cringeworthy he can get when it comes to melodrama). If London Dreams fails it is only because the writing in the second half (the emotional scenes) does not do justice to the intensity of the actors involved – which is why those portions don’t seem so heartfelt. Shah admitted in an interview about excising a lot of those scenes due to the runtime which answers to an extent why that part didn’t work.

Another thing is probably Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score which has its share of great and not-so-great tunes. This aspect is rather glaring because all the average numbers turn up only in the concerts (with the exception of the wonderful “Khwaab” track which I must say covers most of the failings of the second half).

But it is hard to keep picking flaws when you have the powerful duo of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan in superb form. Ajay’s grudge in the movie is that everybody loves Salman – it’s no wonder the latter’s role is written keeping that aspect in mind. Whether you love or hate the film, you cannot but be charmed by Salman. The box office still has not been completely kind to him but the superstar has truly begun to shine again. Asin, Rannvijay Singh and Aditya Roy Kapoor are just passable.

For me London Dreams worked completely because I haven’t seen a film in a very long time which had such an authentic “feel-good” vibe about it. It could have been a lot better but given its merits the flaws are very easily forgivable. Go for it…

Main aurr Mrs Khanna October 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Prem R Soni is credited for the Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction for this film. After conceiving the film, at some point of time he seems to have come to the conclusion that a movie with all the four aspects might be very complex. To keep it simple, he decides to do away with most of the aforementioned details. When the movie ends, you practically keep scratching your head wondering if something really happened in the film and if it did how come you didn’t spot it.

Mr. Khanna (Salman Khan) loses his job in Melbourne. To recoup, he plans to move to Singapore but unceremoniously tries packing off Mrs. Khanna (Kareena Kapoor) to India. Shocked by this harsh move Mrs. Khanna sets up shop in the airport until her husband’s return. In comes Akash (Sohail Khan) who is instantly smitten by Mrs. Khanna and slowly they become close to each other. When Mr. Khanna is back Akash wants to discredit him in Mrs. Khanna’s eyes tries but fails. Inevitably Mr. Khanna confronts Mrs. Khanna about Akash but Mrs Khanna is too dumb to believe that Akash could be love with her. She then decides to confront Akash with the same question – Akash responds rather diplomatically and has an inexplicable change of heart….and the movie ends. There is a so called twist in the end which is supposed to justify Akash’s behavior – but that actually only serves to finally convince Mrs. Khanna (who still can’t believe it!!!) about Akash’s love.

The most bewildering thing about this film is that you have no clue what it is trying to say (or is trying to say something in the first place?) Why does Akash change his mind out of the blue? What about Mr. Khanna who is portrayed as a rather eccentric and unpleasant person for most of the film but towards the end he seems to be exonerated? What exactly is going on in Mrs. Khanna’s mind? What is Bappi Lahiri doing in the film? Why did Preity Zinta have such an awfully bad cameo? In a way Main aurr Mrs Khanna is the most thought provoking film of the year since the number of questions you might want to ask Prem Soni could easily exceed the size of his script.

On the brighter side, this is not really a bad watch if you discount the B-list supporting cast (and promise not to ask too many questions). Sajid-Wajid come up with a pretty good soundtrack which is quite refreshing compared to their usual dance numbers.  All the lead actors perform well but how do you rise above the script when there isn’t one. Main aurr Mrs Khanna is a one-of-a-kind movie which just seems to exist because it has to – it’s your call if you want to watch it for that.

Blue October 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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250 feet deep lies the secret of Blue….100 minutes is what it takes to convince Sanjay Dutt to lead a quest to find that…18 minutes is what it takes for you to realize why Sanju Baba was being so difficult.

In the film, whenever anyone mentions the buried treasure in Sanju’s presence he automatically has these series of flashes about a wrecked ship and skeletons. Writer-Director Anthony D’Souza assumes that those flashes are enough to keep one awake and curious for most of the movie’s duration. Needless to say, the action sequences as well as the underwater stuff for all their finesse are extremely unexciting.

Even if you excuse the lame script, there is something fundamentally wrong here – it’s not just the buried treasure which is underwater….the overall energy levels of everyone and everything in the movie also seem buried 250 feet in the deep. You instantly know this because 1) Zayed Khan and Katrina Kaif actually outshine everyone else in a multistarrer film 2) Lara Dutta in a bikini has just about the same sex appeal as an overweight Sanjay Dutt in a diving suit. (To add to Sanju’s woes he is made to fight on land wearing that thing). 3) You pray that Akshay Kumar actually switches back to doing one of his monotonous comedy films.

After last year’s Love Story 2050, comes another film where you have to observe a two minute silence in solidarity with the technical crew. A.R Rahman’s compositions are somehow salvaged mostly because the most energetic ones appear during the opening title sequence and the end credits. The buried treasure was unlucky enough to be found by the team of Blue – you could escape the same fate if you haven’t ventured out to watch this one.

Wake Up Sid October 16, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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It’s not very often that one gets to see characters portrayed with who you can identify with so closely. It’s another thing that instead of taking your protagonist through uncharted terrain you settle for putting him in the regular triumphant coming-of-age script – and that’s exactly why I felt a bit cheated with Wake Up Sid. That it’s an extremely well made film – there is no doubt; but then it could have been so much more – maybe I was a bit too impressed at the beginning that I forgot this is a product from KJo’s stable.

Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) is exactly the kind of guy who the rest of the “mature” world prods on to “wake up”. But Sid has other plans (or rather lack of them) and finds himself in a spot when after an unsavory incident he is homeless. Not for too long though, for Sid has found his way into newfound friend Aisha’s (Konkona Sen Sharma) apartment. You know the rest – it’s all about Sid waking up – to life and (surprise)….love! Debutant Ayan Mukherji has inherited his mentor’s visual sensibilites and has admirably taken a few taken a few steps forward when it comes to the writing. There are some really wonderful moments in the film – the best one’s being the emotional and confrontational scenes between Sid and his parents. The humor is also quite breezy but the best part is the superb cast.

Ranbir is just too believable as Sid which why you can so closely relate to his character. Konkona, Supriya Pathak, Anupam Kher also deliver praiseworthy performances. There are quite a few new faces like Shikha Talsania, Namit Das, Kainaz Motiwala and Jason Mehta who are very impressive. The funniest moment in the film (though unintentional) comes when you realize that Rahul Khanna gets to play the leading lady’s boss yet again (not to mention that he isn’t going to get her in the end yet again). Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver yet another winning soundtrack which provides the perfect mood for the film. Wake Up Sid is a really nice watch but I do wish its plot was as real as its leading man.

Wanted October 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Wanted might not have turned out that huge a huge blockbuster as it seemed poised to be prior to its release – the most probable reasons being that – for our “intelligent” audiences that Salman isn’t the right “Khan” and the production house “BSK” doesn’t exactly rhyme with a certain “YRF”. Never mind because Salman Khan is back and how!

Given the long tally of flops credited to his account – most being inconsequential cameos, the biggest attraction of Wanted is that Salman is really in there all over the place. Wanted is a pretty faithful remake of Pokiri in terms of the plot but it really feels more like some South Indian superstar’s over-the-top masala flick. And that works here quite well because we don’t get to see such stuff nowadays – more likely because there aren’t too many stars around to pull off such a thing; which posits the obvious question to Salman – Why haven’t you done something like this until now? Apart from its leading man, Wanted has almost nothing to offer but then who cares. On the whole, Wanted will obviously draw unfavorable comparisons to Pokiri but Prabhu Dheva’s intentions are pretty clear from scene one – which is unabashed superstar worship.

Salman Khan is definitely having a ball – be it fighting, dancing or romancing. Needless to say I cannot think of any other actor who could manage all this with such elan. Ayesha Takia even in such an insubstantial role is very impressive and her chemistry with Salman is crackling. Prakash Raj actually gets quite a meaty part when compared with the original and he’s a lot of fun. Mahesh Manjrekar is also very effective. Salman Khan seems ready to break into a dance at any moment but barring a couple, Sajid-Wajid’s tracks lack the required steam. The solid action sequences (Vijayan) are definitely the best part of this enterprise.

If you are a fan of Salman, then Wanted is the movie you’ve been waiting for; but if aren’t one then do remember you were warned!

Kaminey August 18, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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As the end-credits rolled, I was thinking hard if Kaminey was the best Bollywood flick I saw in the last ?? years. I can’t figure out that number yet but if I had make my own top 10 list for the decade, I shouldn’t have much trouble sneaking this one in. Kaminey is just awesome – and this pure awesomeness can unarguably be attributed to the genius of Vishal Bhardwaj – who has concocted a hands down masterpiece.

If you notice, this is the first time that Bhardwaj moves his turf to a city. I’ve always thought that his previous films – no matter how good they were – lost a bit of appeal because of the milieu in which they were set. In interviews about this film, he has mentioned about the Tarantino and Guy Ritchie influences one is likely to find – I think he was being too humble. The beauty of Kaminey is the way it seamlessly subverts and pays tribute to so many genres both Indian and Foreign. It has been misleadingly promoted as a smart crime caper – one of the possible reasons a considerable portion of the audience haven’t really taken to it. Actually, it is a dark crime drama with multiple threads filled with black humor and when you least expect – is emotionally powerful. This is the reason it is hard to label the film.

The first thing which struck me about this movie was the inventiveness of every scene; it gives you an idea about the effort which went into conceiving this. The added technical brilliance – be it the cinematography (Tassaduq Hussain), the score and even the sound recording is something which takes this film to new heights. On top of everything, you have a superb ensemble cast who create memorable characters. Shahid Kapoor is lovable in both the roles – irrespective of how well the film does his “f”-words already seem to be a rage. Priyanka (who is the only female character in the movie to my recollection) gets a great part once again and she does full justice to it. Among the supporting cast, Amol Gupte is superb. Though early on he doesn’t have much to do but at the end of it turns out be the best performance of this enterprise. Tenzing Nima and Chandan Roy are a few of the other characters who make a strong impression.

Bhardwaj’s score has always been the best thing about his earlier films and Kaminey is no exception. This time he and Gulzar come up with the current rage “Dhan Te Nan” among others, which is used to maximum effect. My favorites are “Fatak” and the title track which incidentally come at the beginning and towards the end respectively. After watching the film when I thought writing about it here I wanted to begin by saying – How can one not love Kaminey!!! But looking around a bit made me realize I was too optimistic. For me this was one of those films which reminds why we all love cinema so much.