jump to navigation

London Dreams November 6, 2009

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

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…

Advertisements

Veedokkade (Ayan) May 4, 2009

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

I had seen the promos of the Tamil version during its release a couple of months back and I wasn’t impressed at all – especially with Surya S/o Krishnan still fresh in my mind. However the release of the Telugu version had me excited quite a bit given the glowing reviews and box office success which “Ayan” garnered.

Veedokkade turned out be a mixed bag but still making me wonder why the original ended up being such a huge hit. I found this one to be a better and well-packaged version of the beaten-to-death Telugu action film but apart from that there wasn’t anything to look out for. Director K.V Anand tries to fill in a bit of everything for everyone the result being a product which cannot completely satisfy anyone. Among the everythings the one being talked about most is the action – the much touted “Yamakasi” sequence is the highpoint of the enterprise. Actually, I didn’t know what it was before so for those of you who are wondering about what it might be – well it is the technical name for those awesome foot chase sequences you have seen in the last Bourne and Bond flicks. In this film too it has been wonderfully done and part of the reason I did not like this movie a lot was the result of heightened expectations at the end of this scene.

The most boring parts are the romance (on the brighter side, great to see Tamannaah return to normalcy after Ananda Thandavam) and the surprisingly insipid music by Harris Jayaraj. The background score was quite good nevertheless. This is Surya’s film all the way – from pirating DVDs to smuggling Blood Diamonds, from foot chases in Africa to car chases in Malaysia he seems be having a blast. Prabhu is also impressive in a meaty supporting role. The cinematography is also worthy of mention – especially in the foreign locales.

Veedokkade could have been a smart action flick had K.V Anand concentrated all his energies on the main plot – excising out some of the unnecessary parts would also have achieved that effect to an extent. It still is a pretty good watch provided you do not have lofty expectations.

The Wrestler March 3, 2009

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

If at some point in your life you’ve been hooked to Pro Wrestling and always longed that somebody make a film centered around this sport – and I mean one which isn’t a silly flick about fanboys; then you’re in luck. Darren Aronofsky’s acclaimed film is a much welcome entity in the sports underdog genre.

Sure it faithfully adheres to the stock elements in this genre – a down and out wrestler (“Randy the Ram”) trying to connect with his estranged daughter and whose only confidant is a stripper (“with a heart of gold” of course!). What makes the film notches above any similar flick you might have seen is the unbelievably authentic performance of Mickey Rourke. His being a professional boxer might have helped him to an extent to physically prepare for the role but that’s just one part of the story. As the has-been trying to find keep his life from falling apart further Rourke is absolutely convincing and really makes you feel for him. There are times you feel things getting a bit too melodramatic but thankfully those moments never go out of hand.

The best part centres around the wrestling bouts themselves. The staged brutality to entertain the spectators (the no-holds-barred hardcore match especially) in contrast to the unbelievable camaraderie between the players backstage is something which amazes you. I am not quite sure if that sort of thing exists in the big professional leagues (WWE, TNA et al). Given the physical onslaught the wrestlers go through and the corresponding “care” their bodies need to be given to withstand that; no wonder you hear about so many premature deaths and emotionally disturbing acts.

Though I stopped following the sport a few years back, I remember a lot of people who used to ask me (and everyone else who watched it) why I would be excited about something which is obviously “fake”. I don’t think I had a clear answer back then or even now – it’s akin to asking why one loves a movie even though you know everything is “fake” or “staged”. Anyways, Rourke apart there is also Marisa Tomei – who continues her newfound tradition of appearing naked in great films. She and Evan Rachel Wood just fill the customary supporting parts and nothing more is expected of them.

I also liked the way the camera follows behind Rourke most of the time – it gives that mockumentary feel which makes Randy “The Ram” look even more authentic. Aronofsky delivers one of the best redemption movies ever and if not for anything else Mickey Rourke’s tour de force act alone makes it a must watch.

Dev D February 13, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2 comments

During the first few minutes of Dev D we are treated to the first conversation between the grown up Dev and Paro – She says she can’t bear it anymore while Dev retorts back sheepishly – Do you touch yourself??? This is the moment exactly when all your notions about Dev D being little more than “Devdas moved to a more contemporary setting” are shattered.

Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D is more precisely “Devdas turned upside down”. Anurag’s Dev, Paro and Chanda are basically screwed up right from the word go – therefore their subsequent descent into debauchery isn’t really that surprising. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting – quite the opposite; after all who wouldn’t want to watch dissolute people indulge in lewd stuff! The director also doesn’t expect you to empathise with any of the characters. Aside from its advertised plot “inspiration” from Devdas, this could have been any contemporary flick about a bad urban heartbreak.

I especially liked the way Anurag references real life scandals like the DPS MMS and the BMW hit-and-run case. They blend so well into the story unlike other films which use such gimmicky stuff only to attract eyeballs. What ultimately works big time for Dev D is its musical format. The team of music director Amit Trivedi, lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya and Anurag Kashyap collaborated for the first time in last year’s Aamir – which apart from being a great film had probably the best in-film soundtrack in recent times. With Dev D, Trivedi triumphs once again with a heady mix of numbers brought alive wonderfully on the screen by Anurag and team. It truly is an intoxicating experience. The icing on the cake of course is the outrageously funny “Emosanal Attyachar” number sung by Bandmasters Rangila and Rasila and performed on screen by “Patna Ke Elvis”. Check out the moment in that song when as Paro dances without abandon on her wedding, the Prelseys blurt out “Bol…Bol…Why did you ditch me whoooore?”.

The cast is equally triumphant as the technicians. Abhay Deol as usual effortlessly slips into his role and is completely natural as ever. His co-stars Mahie Gill and Kalki Koechlin also deserve high praise for their respective portrayals. Dev D is another maverick piece of cinema from Anurag Kashyap which contrary to everyone’s expectation is actually an unusual musical – definitely not to me missed.

There is a “Special Thanks” to Danny Boyle at the beginning of the movie – I thought if it was about the use of music inspired from the film everyone loves to rave or rant about, but like Anurag confirmed in a recent interview it had to do with certain camerawork tips.