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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.

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99 May 18, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Thanks to the Film Producers-Multiplex Owners stand-off, there hasn’t been any new Bollywood offering for a while now. Citing the relevance of it being released during the IPL season, the producers of 99 somehow managed to get it out. 99 claims to be the the “coolest crime comedy of the year” – a claim which it admirably lives up to. I noticed that in a few reviews/articles about this film, the directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK have been mentioned as debutants. For those who are not aware, a few years back these guys made a wonderful “crossover” film called Flavors which you should definitely watch. Their latest effort just proves that they are here to stay.

The basic narrative of 99 is similar to Guy Ritchie’s caper flicks – so you have people chasing money, people chasing other people and money jumping places before everyone finally gets what they deserve. The crime backdrop in this one centers around betting and match-fixing in cricket – that’s why it is set in the year 1999. A rather interesting insight which the film constantly seems to allude to are the nascent birth of now ubiquitous pop cultural phenomenon like mobile phones, the Internet, Coffee shops and Bhojpuri Films! 99 is smartly scripted with great humor and unlike similar themed flicks is a lot more believable as there is quite a bit of time devoted to detailing individual characters and their actions. Some have complained about the long runtime resulting because of this but I had absolutely no problems with it.

Most importantly, the primary reason everything in this film works so well is its delectable cast. Kunal Khemu and Boman Irani have the greatest screen time and are delightful. The former is also looking quite good sans his long locks. Mahesh Manjrekar as the local gangster AGM impresses once again – this is the only kind of role he seems to excel in effortlessly. Cyrus Broacha is quite hilarious with his usual brand of humor. Despite having short parts Vinod Khanna and Soha Ali Khan are very impressive. The best accolades should however be reserved for newcomer Amit Mistry who never fails to bring the house down. His scene with Kunal (a glimpse of which is seen in the promos) is the highpoint of the movie.

Technically too the film looks good. The musical score (Roshan Macado, Mahesh Shankar, Shamir Tandon) suits the tone of the film perfectly. The title sequence seemingly inspired from Watchmen is also quite catchy. Going by Bollywood standards 99 is an almost flawless work which is immensely entertaining and equally clever – go for it!

Yuvvraaj November 25, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I wish I could exclaim – Subhash Ghai is back! It was my sincere belief that the showman would finally redeem himself with Yuvvraaj. Looks like redemption is another film away. Yuvvraaj is Ghai’s most disappointing film till date – if not his worst (that honor arguably goes to Kisna). A story about estranged brothers coming together would probably not be touched by any director in this day. But given Ghai’s expertise at handling these kind of themes in the past, I was expecting an old school classic from him and since it was also supposed to be an A.R. Rahman “musical”, my expectations soared.

Assuming that the rest of the film stays the same, it still would have made the cut if the director actually delivered a musical as he promised. The first frame of the film opens with Katrina playing the much publicized cello in a grandiose setting. A few other frames featuring people holding/playing musical instruments plus the usual songs are what constitute the “musical” part of this flick. A film like this filled with campy situations and (even more horrible) dialogue almost completely dispenses off with a background score and uses sombre looking sets (despite being opulent) – which undoubtedly gives the impression that this is supposed to be a film to be taken seriously. And this proves disastrous for it as there is no way any sane viewer could do that.

It is all the more surprising because Ghai is one filmmaker who knows (or rather invented in Hindi Cinema) how to incorporate a score to maximum effect. That skill of his was the primary reason his last success Taal survived. Another memorable disaster in this film is the dialogue. If you had seen the dialogue promos you should definitely have noticed Katrina’s “…..woh sirf ek hardcore anti-family man ho sakta hai”. There are equally bad gems like these (if not equally funny) but the pick of the lot is the scene where Salman gives an explanation for Anil’s altruistic actions to a policeman that it’s because he’s not just any other brother but an “Indian Brother”.

Except for Salman Khan and Anil Kapoor who provide the film’s only redeeming moments everyone else is a letdown – thanks to their lame characterizations. Zayed Khan especially needs an acting class. His character seems to have been written as an afterthought just to make it a 3-brother story. The straight from the eighties villains-vamps could have caused further embarrassment if not for their short insignificant parts. For all the talk about Katrina overshadowing everyone else on the posters, she hardly has anything to do. Many reviews have criticized Salman’s performance but I honestly feel that if it weren’t for the lighthearted feel he brings to the proceedings this film would have been unwatchable. Anil Kapoor should have had a longer part to play because it is only when he and Salman are together that the film stops from sinking further. I don’t know if his take on an autistic person is authentic or not but it is highly consistent and in tune with the plot. Mithun also appears in a brief role.

A.R Rahman would be the person to be disappointed the most out of this venture – it is the second time in a row that Ghai has squandered away his tunes. The very popular “Dost” and “Tu Muskura” absolutely make no impression in the movie. It is actually the less publicized “Mastam Mastam” which is the pick of the lot. For once the vibrant choreography does justice to the song. There’s also a short song called “Zindagi” which I liked very much. The climax song “Dil Ka Rishta” doesn’t create much of an impact but a couple of short pieces used from here in other scenes are really good.

Mithun ends the last scene of the film with the adage “Independent we live but United we stand” following which (to my utmost surprise) there was a standing ovation from the audience!!! whatever they were clapping for! As a last ditch attempt the Farah Khan style end credits are brought in but that can’t make you like what came before it. Yuvvraaj could have been a nice old-fashioned campy musical melodrama but is nowhere close. Watch it only if you are a fan of any of the big names associated with this film because even though it was below average I didn’t find it hard to sit through.

Dostana November 24, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I wasn’t surprised at the hype this film generated before and after its release. After all, isn’t it coming from Karan Johar’s stable? As you might be familiar, anything closely resembling “bold” from there (or YRF for that matter) is sanctified by the media to the level of national debate. This time it is about the “mature handling of gay relationships”. Yeah right! if making a compendium of Hollywood and Bollywood’s gay jokes till date and using it in a single film means that. Though repetitive most of these gags do make you laugh; especially when you are watching this in a packed auditorium you tend to laugh even at some not-so-funny stuff just because everyone else is.

Sam (Abhishek Bachchan) and Kunal (John Abraham) bump into each other while they are looking for an apartment; however the existing occupant Neha (Priyanka Chopra) needs female roommates but since these guys are desperate for the house, they pretend to be gay in order to bypass the “girls only” clause. The usual gay jokes follow and the tempo hits an all time high with the arrival of Sam’s hyper Punjabi mom (who else but Kirron Kher). Once the jokes run out, the guys decide to fall in love with Neha. But since this is a two hero film where both the heroes are on equal footing when it comes to wooing the girl, it is obvious that a third guy (Bobby Deol) is required to come and take her away. The mush which we are treated to for the next 30 minutes or so is quite irritating – especially since it follows a fun-filled first hour. However, things get back on track as Sam and Kunal try to sabotage Neha’s new found love. The scenes featuring the kid in this part are too good.

Though I mostly enjoyed this flick I wouldn’t call it a great comedy. Like I said before it only works when you are watching it in a packed auditorium. The performances are uniformly good. Abhishek, Kirron Kher and Shrey Bawa (who plays Bobby’s son) stand out among the rest. Priyanka’s outfits are as skimpy as it gets but (as always) I don’t find her hot. Sorry, it’s actually John who wears the skimpiest costumes – during the first few minutes into the movie he seems so desperate to show a glimpse of his butt. But definitely, this is the first film where he actually performs well and is likeable.

Vishal-Shekhar’s music is no great shakes except for the “Maa ka Laadla” song – which works mainly due to the picturization but I find that “Desi Girl” number highly irritating. The film is entirely shot in Miami so there’s lot of eye candy to catch. Tarun Mansukhani – who has been assisting Karan right from KKHH inherits the same style and sensibilities as his mentor. On the whole, Dostana is a timepass fun watch which just entertains as long as it lasts but is nowhere great as described in some glowing reviews.

Love Story 2050 July 7, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Ladies and Gentlemen…..take note – Harry Baweja has set a new benchmark for cinematic realism. Just a couple of instances if you find it hard to believe me. There’s a scene where the time machine takes off for the year 2050. But it’s not just Harman and gang which takes off….you yourself feel that you’ve lived through 42 years on your seat until that scene finally comes. Also, towards the end our hero is supposed to come back to the time machine before a certain deadline so that he’s safely returned to the present otherwise he’s supposed to actually grow 42 years older. A significant proportion of the audience seem to have felt the same would happen to them also and not convinced that Harman would make it in time, they started to leave the auditorium hurriedly.

In between those two events unfortunately you get to see what is undoubtedly most flawless VFX work ever accomplished in Indian Cinema. I said unfortunately only because I feel sorry for those guys at Prime Focus and Weta Digital whose effort in all probability will remain unseeen by those it was intended for. They can thank Harry Baweja for this. It really takes lot of imagination to make such an uneventful and boring film when the theme you are dealing with it time travel and reincarnation. In fact this film is so boring that you won’t even know it is about time travel and reincarnation unless you knew beforehand.

Here is Love Story 2050 compressed for you so you can avoid a trip to the theatre. Guy love girl…girl love guy (repeat cycle till 5 minutes before interval). Then girl die…guy remember girl say she want to travel to “Mumbai 2050”. Guy get brilliant idea that girl will reborn in “Mumbai 2050” and he start time travel to “Mumbai 2050” (Simultaneous, Harry Baweja start throwing 60 crore in drain). “Mumbai 2050” largely consist firangs and rule by gay fashion designers and their creation. Guy find red hair girl who look exactly like her 2008 girl. Finally, red hair girl remember 2008 duet (really nice tune by Anu Malik) and 2008 personal diary and decide to come back 2008. Story End (Simultaneous, Harry Baweja also stop throwing money in drain).

Harman Baweja has to live with being called a Hrithik clone for a while. He does show promise and it is unfair to judge him based on this film….but check out his “Milo na Milo” moves. Priyanka is borderline irritating (more to do with her 2050 costumes). The only time when you actually smile during the movie is when Harman says “I don’t need luck, I have love”. It’s funny because when Daddy Baweja might have thought of that line, he never would have guessed how wrong it would prove for him. Watch this one only if you want to show some solidarity with the VFX team.

Heyy Babyy September 12, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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This film deals with the life of three bachelors who seem to have no other job except to bed one woman after another. Their life suddenly changes when a baby girl is left at their doorstep with a claim that one of them is their father. They spend their time taking care of the kid and end up losing their jobs/money. They decide to abandon the child. A near-death experience for the baby brings about a change in them and they start developing a strong bond with her. At this point, the mother takes back her child. Now the guys try everything they can to get the child back. Will the baby help unite their parents?

Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh do fine as expected but Fardeen Khan, who I used to consider a bad actor, seems to have improved over time at least as far as comedy goes. Vidya Balan, who has made an impression with all her previous roles, doesn’t come up trumps this time. The baby is cute but has little else to do except being herself. There are a host of guest appearances from a ton of actresses who are trying to make it in the industry. And good friend Shahrukh throws in a special appearance. Composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver a first-rate soundtrack that includes foot-tapping numbers like Hey Baby and Jaane Bhi De as well as the lilting Meri Duniya. These certainly add to the film.

Like sister Farah Khan and brother-in-law Shirish Kunder, well known anchor Sajid Khan too jumps onto the directorial bandwagon (he did direct an episode in the Ram Gopal Varma production Darna Zaroori Hai earlier). Though it has the ingredients to be a box office hit, this isn’t a good film by any stretch of imagination. Going by his efforts in television, one had hoped for a much better film from Sajid Khan but he disappoints.

The first half of this film is filled with mostly childish humor. It does bring about a few smiles but largely it didn’t work for me. The emotional aspect did not make an impression on me either. However, there was an improvement in the second half of the film and it did make me laugh. Overall, this is only an average film that is not to be taken seriously and could appeal to those who have enjoyed recent comedies like Partner very much.

As I see it, this is an eighties film with a stylistic upgrade. The writing by Sajid is amateurish and anyone whose seen a lot of hindi movies can predict what is going to happen next. Most of the emotions are conveyed through dialogue and not really developed or felt. Such a lack of subtext is a clear indication of poor writing and direction. I had expected a much better film from Sajid Khan but he makes the kind of films that he has criticized in the past (maybe a little less over-the-top). Give me Shirish Kunder or Farah Khan anyday. Shirish Kunder’s superior grip on technical aspects was clearly on display in Jaan-e-mann while Farah Khan succeeded in her aim of making a masala seventies style film that walked the tightrope between laughing at itself and making the audience laugh. I liked the episode directed by Sajid in Darna Zaroori Hai but this film is a disappointment. This film has an audience but I am not a part of that audience and I hope Sajid makes a better film next time.

Lastly, a note to Sajid: “You may like the great Hrishikesh Mukherjee and might have been acquainted with him but please Sajid, stop using his name in reference to this film”.