jump to navigation

A Christmas Carol November 26, 2009

Posted by Shujath in English, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

I wonder if Charles Dickens’ beloved classic was really suited for a 3-D motion capture adaptation. Except the promising first few minutes, most of what comes after turns out be a rather bland and soul-less rendering of Dickens’ tale.

In recent times, Robert Zemeckis seems to have lost his touch even though we can overlook The Polar Express and Beowulf purely for their technological innovation of a new form of storytelling. Sadly, A Christmal Carol is a pretty late arrival to even get away with the “technology” excuse. Ebenezer Scrooge’s original tale was both bleak and touching (still one of the very few stories I really loved as a kid) and where the film falters mostly is in the latter aspect. Jim Carrey does his best in multiple roles and that’s definitely among the very few things which make this movie watchable.

You might want to watch this if this is your first IMAX-3D flick – or better still wait till December 18th to catch the real biggie.

Advertisements

Welcome to Sajjanpur October 8, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Owing to lack of creativity on my side, I am lifting a few lines from an older post on this blog to describe this film. “A small minority of films manage to put a smile on my face from beginning to end. When I say smile, it isn’t due to the funny events on screen but due to the sheer joy that I experience from everything put out on the screen. This is one such film.” Welcome to Sajjanpur is the kind of film which is so hard to write about because you can’t really slot it into a genre. Call it a simple comedy or a social satire or an engaging drama….it works on every level. Maybe films of this kind have been made in the past but none which I’ve seen.

Mahadev (Shreyas Talpade) is the only literate guy (more accurately..the only one who can actually write stuff) in Sajjanpur who aims to be a novelist but has to settle for being a letter-writer. Due to the uniqueness of his profession everyone in the village has got to use his services at one time or the other. The myriad letters he composes include complaints to the district collector, appeals for money from relatives, missing father search requests, love letters (of course!) and probably the most ingenious of them all – farmer generated spam mail. Short vignettes of the people’s lives who he comes in touch with and how he inadvertently (or otherwise) gets involved forms the crux of the movie. For Mahadev however, most important of them all is Kamala (Amrita Rao) – a childhood sweetheart now married and dying to correspond with her husband who is out in the city for work since the last four years. Mahadev senses an opportunity for some subtle manipulation to get closer to her.

Filled with ample humor and tongue-in-cheek references to social issues all and sundry; Sajjanpur is a treat to watch. I’ve noticed at few places the music of the film receiving much flak but I fail to understand why. Shantanu Moitra’s tunes blend so well with the film and I had absolutely no problem with it. Shreyas Talpade absolutely rocks. As the letter-writer with a troubled conscience when seeing injustice happen or the clever trickster when it comes to his love; his is a character you’ll simply adore. Shyam Benegal’s genius is most apparent in the fact the he made Amrita Rao shine in a role like that. Given the stuff she has done before, this really is a giant leap. The supporting cast is also wonderful – Yashpal Sharma, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta, Daya Shankar Pandey and Ravi Jhankal to name a few.

Shyam Benegal’s previous mainstream ventures in the last ten years or so like Zubeida and Bose didn’t justify his reputation but with Sajjanpur he is back and how! Welcome to Sajjanpur is a film which defines the phrase “wholesome entertainment”. It’s a pity if you miss this!

A Wednesday ! October 7, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

For once, one can claim rightfully that Bollywood had delivered a true edge-of-the-seat thriller. And that’s good enough reason not to miss this one. It all happens on a Wednesday as Police Commissioner Prakash Rathod (Anupam Kher) sets out to handle the toughest case in his life. An unknown caller (Naseeruddin Shah) demands the release of 4 “terrorists” and in return promises to reveal the location of multiple bombs he has planted in different parts of the city. A few incidents later Commissioner Rathod realises that the guy isn’t joking and moreover that getting hold of him isn’t as simple as he might have thought. That’s pretty much of the plot one can reveal without spoiling the experience of people intending to watch it.

A Wednesday is a very well-intentioned film. It has a point to make and does it very well. But in the process it makes quite a few simplistic assumptions about important issues. If you really think – you’ll end up asking a lot of questions for which the film has no convincing answers. One needs to keep that in mind before watching this for the film’s intelligence is in its execution rather than content. This film never relies on snazzy editing techniques or any other visual paraphernalia to generate the thrills. It simply shows that all you need is a crisp screenplay devoid of unnecessary scenes to hold your audience’s attention.

Naseeruddin Shah is expectedly brilliant. His portrayal is so convincing that many questions which would otherwise have been raised about his character simply vanish when he is in charge of the proceedings. Anupam Kher is apt as the Police Commissioner. It’s actually Jimmy Sheirgill’s turn as the volatile tough-as-nails encounter specialist which impressed me the most. Probably the first time I’ve seen him in such an avatar. Let’s hope this gets him more mainstream roles.

This is the second film of this year (after “Aamir”) helmed by a deubtant (Neeraj Pandey) which has opened to rave reviews. And fortunately, unlike the other one it has performed pretty well at the box office – quite an encouraging sign. Whatever loopholes you might find with A Wednesday are only after you are done watching it. The almost breathless two hours as the film unfolds won’t give you a chance to do anything else than remain glued to the screen.