jump to navigation

Luck By Chance February 1, 2009

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
3 comments

Debutant writer-director Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance tells us a riveting story of two contrasting individuals and their journey in the Hindi film industry as they follow their dreams in disparate ways. As one might expect, the film uses the eccentricities of movie folks to throw up some laughs. But we get the see the human side of these celebrities, the delicate situations that they are caught in and the lies they have to tell themselves and others. This movie feels very natural and manages to capture a piece of real life.

This film is superbly cast. I wonder why stars were originally considered for the role of the main protagonist because this is really a part for an upcoming actor and Farhan Akhtar (Rock On!) fits the bill perfectly. Together with a remarkable Konkona Sen Sharma, he plays a major part in making this film very believable.

And then you have the supporting cast. When you can get a huge star like Hrithik Roshan to play a supporting part (billed as a special appearance), you must be doing something right (and kudos to him for doing this). I am so terribly fed up of seeing Rishi Kapoor playing father in one dumb film after another. So, it is refreshing to see him in a consequential role. And then, for the first time that I can recall, Sanjay Kapoor impresses (of course, I haven’t seen too many of his films). In his first big scene, he reminds me so much of Anil Kapoor. Dimple Kapadia is super as the erstwhile star who is launching her daughter, while Isha Sharwani who plays the part is quite impressive herself. Juhi Chawla gets a small part but she is always nice to watch.

I really don’t have the patience to talk about the guest appearances ranging from Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan to Karan Johar, Manish Malhotra, Anurag Kashyap and hold your breath… Mac Mohan but many of them play useful parts.

Assembling a good cast doesn’t mean much if you can’t use them well and Zoya Akhtar deserves all the credit for writing an admirable script, filming it superbly and getting the right performances.

I recall the tribute by Farah Khan to the film’s technicians at the end credits of Om Shanti Om. Zoya trumps her. She shows us technicians in their natural settings with the very apt Yeh Zindagi Bhi number playing in the background (Shankar Ehsaan Loy deliver a first-rate soundtrack again for Farhan Akhtar). While the film has interesting characters, identifiable moral dilemmas and a lot of humor, wonderful moments like these make it special.

I was not bored for a single moment in this film and despite it being an unconventional non-masala film, I would recommend this to everyone. Go watch it!

Jodhaa Akbar February 17, 2008

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
6 comments

Period films aren’t common in Hindi cinema and they don’t work well at the box office. That is primarily because movies like Subhash Ghai’s disastrous offering Kisna and the way-off-the-mark Asoka by Santosh Sivan are being dished out in the guise of landmark films. Finally, we have a notable entry in the historical genre in the form of Jodhaa Akbar. Director Ashutosh Gowariker (Swades, Lagaan) shows us that it can be done even if he takes too much time.

The film begins when a young teenager, Jalaluddin Mohammad (who will later be known as Akbar), is forced to take over the reigns of the kingdom due to the death of his father, Humayun. His next few years are spent waging wars under the guidance of Bairam Khan. When Jalal is old enough to take over, he resorts to more peaceful ways of expanding his control and uniting Hindustan under the Mughal rule. Meanwhile, the Rajput ruler of Amer, who is also against wars, decides to join his hands with Akbar, incurring the wrath of other Rajput rulers. Faced with a dilemma, he decides to marry his daughter, Jodhaa to Akbar. The rest of the film deals with the developing relationship between the two as well as the rule of Akbar during that period.

The writers (Haider Ali and Gowariker himself) effectively mix historical facts with fiction to create a watchable film. Though the film touches many aspects, both political and emotional, the writers manage to keep it uncomplicated. The visuals are extremely impressive. The production design by Nitin Desai is superlative and I loved the costumes, head gear and jewellery by Neeta Lulla. Cinematographer Kiran Deohans captures these beautiful visuals but Gowariker makes sure that they don’t become the focus in any of the scenes. A R Rahman, once again, delivers for Ashutosh. The songs are lovely (Jashn-E-Bahara is probably my favorite) and his background score is commendable (especially for the scenes involving Hrithik and Aish). Ashutosh films the nicely choreographed Azeem-O-Shaan Shahenshah and the romantic In Lamhon Ke Daaman Mein numbers well and Manmohana is placed quite effectively but Khwaja Mere Khwaja does not warrant a place in the narrative.

Ashutosh, as always, casts well and both his lead actors have what it takes to look regal. Hrithik Roshan pulls off a tough role once again with ease. Some might feel that he doesn’t look like Akbar because of the preconceived images of Prithviraj Kapoor (Mughal-e-Azam) or Vikram Gokhale (Akbar-Birbal teleseries) but better sense should prevail. He doesn’t quite have the baritone of Amitabh Bachchan or even Raza Murad (who plays the prime minister in this film) but he does his best to make up for it with his earnest dialogue delivery. Aishwarya Rai is more beautiful here than in any of her recent films and this is as natural a performance as she has ever given in her career. She far exceeds my expectations. Kudos to Gowariker for bringing out the best in these two. As usual Ashutosh Gowariker collects an eclectic and less exposed cast for this film including Ila Arun (who manages to be quite scary as Maham Anga), Kulbhushan Kharbanda (who played a King in Lagaan as well) and Punam Sinha (presumably Shatrughan Sinha’s wife, who is very likable as Akbar’s mother) and it always helps to relate better to the characters. Sonu Sood gets to play a sympathetic role as Jodhaa’s cousin, Sujamal. A good opportunity for him to get better recognition and hopefully, more roles that can justice to his capability.

This isn’t quite the perfect film. The first hour of the film is somewhat languorously paced and doesn’t really pull you in despite the visual splendour. This section could have been shortened, considering the length of the film. The film holds strong appeal once Jodhaa and Akbar get together. The best parts of the film involve the interactions between these two characters. Gowariker creates some brilliant scenes here with subtle expressions and reactions from both his lead actors. In fact, Ashutosh’s impact is all over this film and he successfully pulls off another challenging film, even if isn’t a great one.

This film is clearly not for those who cannot sit through one that lasts over 200 minutes. Also, it isn’t for those who want simple entertainment and are likely to look at this as a history lesson. For the rest, this is recommended because one hardly gets to see such a well made historical in India.