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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.

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Okka Magadu June 3, 2008

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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There were a lot of expectations from this film due to the teaming of director YVS Chowdhary (Devadasu, Lahiri Lahiri Lahirilo) with Balakrishna. YVS has delivered a lot of hit films despite critics ripping them apart on the first day and Balakrishna has needed a hit for a long while. I expected a semi-bad film that would work at the box office. But what followed was a major disaster that, apparently, even hardcore Balakrishna fans couldn’t come to terms with.

The writer-director’s decision to rehash Shankar’s Bharateeyudu (Indian) along with various bits from other films is highly appalling. Shankar’s formula has been used successfully in many films but those films weren’t such shameless ripoffs. If you neglect the fact that this is a ripoff, this is just a bad mass flick that is not particularly dreadful (I am sure many Balakrishna fans would have enjoyed certain parts of the film atleast). YVS has definitely tried and this is clearly visible at times (most noticeably, Balakrishna seems to look much better in this film). But his gimmicks just don’t work this time and the bloated expectations wouldn’t have helped either.

For me, the most irritating aspect of this film is the make-up. Yes, it is possible that old people look like that but it is hard to recognize both Balakrishna and Simran and it affects their performances. And neither of them adjust their body language to suit the role (though you could forgive Balakrishna because he is supposed to be some sort of superheroic old man). Mani Sarma’s soundtrack isn’t a chartbuster. A couple of numbers are passable with the title track being the best.

A lot could be written about the defects of this film but I don’t want to. This film isn’t worth watching and I watched it only because I wanted to see what was so bad about it. In the end, I did feel that this was just as bad as other bad films in the genre but not as spectacularly dismal as it was made out to be.

The Bank Job March 10, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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There was little buzz about this film before it hit the theatres but if critics are to be believed, this is the only good film to release this weekend when the universally lambasted 10,000 B.C. raked in the big bucks.

The movie is based on an infamous robbery from 1971. Terry (Jason Statham) and his friends are offered a bank job by an old friend who has some inside information. The small time crooks decide to take up the job to rob the safe deposit boxes at Lloyd’s Bank in London. What they don’t know is that these boxes hold some very big secrets including one that is linked to the Royal family and before they know it, they are entangled in a web that threatens their lives.

This isn’t an entertainer like The Italian Job or the Ocean’s movies or a slick, charming enterprise like Guy Ritchie’s Snatch or Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Nonetheless, it is an engaging, well-made caper flick. Director Roger Donaldson (The World’s Fastest Indian, Dante’s Peak) maintains the tension throughout and writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (who worked together on films like Flushed Away and Goal!) weave together the intricate subplots competently. It would have been quite easy to confuse the audience but credit to the writers, director and the editor, John Gilbert (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Bridge to Terabithia) that this does not happen. Jason Statham is sincere and convincing. He can carry a film on his shoulders but this film carries itself. The large supporting cast filled with British actors (most of whom I haven’t come across) is effective.

It is hard to discuss this film without giving away some of its secrets but the various subplots (apparently based on reality or at least what is known of it) keep you hooked. The robbery itself is a well-executed, tense affair. The intelligently plotted climax comes at you quick and ties up all the ends together but if you blink, you might miss one or two key moments. In between all this, the characters are given some personality and a love triangle finds its place too. There isn’t a lot of humor but you don’t really miss it because the film is paced well and doesn’t let your mind wander. This is well worth a watch.

Guru (Gurukanth) January 17, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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Being inspired from real-life incidents (Bombay, Kannathil Muthamittal/Amrutha) and characters (Iruvar/Iddaru, Nayagan/Nayakudu) isn’t new for writer-director Mani Ratnam. Despite what he says, his latest film is definitely inspired by the life of Dhirubhai Ambani. Though Mani makes sure that this is an inaccurate biopic, it includes characters (including the journalist played by R. Madhavan, as my Dad pointed out) and incidents reminiscent of the life of the Polyester Prince. The film spins an interesting yarn on the astonishing rise of a common man to a position of great importance, focusing on his moral dilemmas as well as the social, political and legal repercussions of his actions. This is an engaging film that is pretty good but I would think twice before calling it great. The reason it falls short of being great is that it tends to get cinematic at times when realism would have kept me much happier.

That Mani Ratnam’s screenplay and direction are superb, goes without saying. I greatly enjoyed the conflicting relationships between Guru and Nanaji and their respective families. The one issue that I had though is with the songs. The Ek Lo Ek Muft song felt unnecessary and I would have liked it if the Tere Bina song wasn’t shot as it was. The rest of the songs are used to forward the story or used in the background. Though the well-shot Barso Re number seems repetitive for Mani, Aishwarya’s bicycle accident necessitated this song and hence that can be overlooked.

Another important factor in the effect of this film is the dialogue by Vijay Krishna Acharya (who also provided the dialogue for Pyaar Ke Side Effects and wrote the screenplay along with dialogue for Dhoom and Dhoom 2). Mani Ratnam being a Tamilian with relatively low capability of understanding Hindi needed someone to accurately translate his vision into words and Vijay does a very good job (though sometimes one feels that the dialogue is a bit more dramatic than necessary). Being a period flick, the art direction (Samir Chanda) and costume design (Ameira Punvan, Sai, Nikhar Dhawan, Anu Parthasarathy, Aparna Shah) becomes very important. Mani Ratnam being the master that he is seems to have taken extra care of the detailing. The one thing that is easily visible in the film is the vehicles used for the different periods. I was quite surprised with Aishwarya’s backless blouse in the Barso Re song that seemed out of sync for that period. However, that is just my ignorance. Apparently, women in Gujarat wear such outfits due to the weather and not for sex appeal (source: IndiaFM.com).

Though the film never paints Guru as the nicest human being, some members of the audience seem to think that Mani has shown Guru’s misdemeanors lightly through the somewhat happy climax. This isn’t exactly a children’s storybook to have the most politically correct climax. I would like to ask these people if they have always taken a legally correct path in their lives (and don’t tell me that we break the law only when it seems unreasonable). Most of us have bribed someone or the other at some point in our lives and therefore furthered the rampant corruption in the country. We have committed our share of mistakes and so has Guru (or Dhiru) and as one character in the film points out these are things that we cannot be executed for (yet). The most practical (not to mention realistic) solution is punishment with a hope of reformation and that is what happens in the film. The good part though is that Guru’s tryst with swindling and smuggling does help the shareholders of his company and this is not forgotten.

Abhishek Bachchan, who plays the main protagonist, delivers a stunning performance. If Mani’s last film Yuva provided him the platform to be noticed as an actor, this performance will make sure that he will be remembered as an actor. Aishwarya Rai once again shows that she can deliver a good performance under the guidance of a capable director. Mani brings out the best in the newly engaged couple both in terms of acting and chemistry that seemed to be lacking in their earlier outings together. Apart from these two the film boasts of a splendid supporting cast. Mithun’s national awards (for Best Actor in Mrigaya, Tahader Katha and for Best Supporting actor in Swami Vivekananda) might have been forgotten by the common audience but thankfully filmmakers like Mani haven’t forgotten him and he delivers a performance that does justice to his talent. Madhavan and Vidya Balan, both capable actors, do well in supporting roles. Arya Babbar (Raj Babbar’s son who made his debut in the forgettable flick called Ab Ke Baras) makes an impression in a short role as Aishwarya’s brother.

A.R.Rahman has done some of his best work for Mani Ratnam’s films and he once again comes up with a brilliant soundtrack and background score. Gulzar’s lyrics provide the poetic imagery that makes these songs even better (though I won’t claim to have understood them completely). My favorite numbers are Jaage Hain and Shauk Hai (sung by Soumya Rao, this song is a part of the background score and is expected to be included in the new CDs of Guru alongwith the Gurubhai Aaya Che number that has become synonymous with the film) followed by Aye Hairathe and Maiyya Maiyya. Barso Re and Tere Bina are very good too.

This film is aimed primarily at the intelligentsia. There is a lot of dialogue in the film that is going over the heads of well-educated people. Mani makes no effort to explain things in detail as is the norm in Hindi cinema (and I believe that should be the way to go). Thanks to the multiplex and overseas audience, this movie might do well but its prospects in the interiors are bleak. Those looking for mindless entertainment could watch Dhoom 2 again while the others should try and catch this one.