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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.

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.