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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…

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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.

Veedokkade (Ayan) May 4, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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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.