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3 Idiots March 12, 2010

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I love Rajkumar Hirani’s brand of “feel good cinema with a message”. I wish more young filmmakers made such films. This was a very well planned and executed film. It was thoroughly enjoyable and I’d love to watch it again. Kudos to Hirani and co-writer Abhijat Joshi, the cast (especially Aamir Khan, Boman Irani and Omi Vaidya), composer Shantanu Moitra and lyricist Swanand Kirkire (loved the Give Me Some Sunshine number). Since the film has received enough praise (and it has been a while), I’ll focus elsewhere.

If there is one thing I truly wish the film hadn’t done, it is the deification of the Rancho character. I mean, come on! In the past, Hirani carefully made his characters and situations idealistic without going over the line but this time he crosses it some.

Then there is the issue of credit to Chetan Bhagat. They did borrow the theme from his book (that doesn’t mean he deserves credit for the success of the movie) and they did tuck the name away in the end credits somewhere (did they feel like Bhagat was going to walk away with the credit? I’m sure Aamir gets the most credit even if Raju is the most deserving). So yes, I think the makers are clearly to blame for hiding his name.

And finally, I’ve always felt that it is hard to adapt a book for the screen and make it seem better than the book or equally as good for the readers. This is because when you read the book, you create this world in your mind. It is hard for anyone to recreate that personal experience. Another huge roadblock is the restrictions on duration that do not allow filmmakers to capture the content or the detail to the extent that a reader would like. So, whenever someone tells me that a film is not as good as a book, I never take them seriously because not everyone seems to understand or take into account the differences between the two media and the process and the limitations that come with the territory.

Having read the book, I had some mixed feelings while I watched the film. I had to consciously brush away the memories. In the end, they were two separate experiences, both of which I enjoyed thoroughly.

Main aurr Mrs Khanna October 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Prem R Soni is credited for the Story, Screenplay, Dialogues and Direction for this film. After conceiving the film, at some point of time he seems to have come to the conclusion that a movie with all the four aspects might be very complex. To keep it simple, he decides to do away with most of the aforementioned details. When the movie ends, you practically keep scratching your head wondering if something really happened in the film and if it did how come you didn’t spot it.

Mr. Khanna (Salman Khan) loses his job in Melbourne. To recoup, he plans to move to Singapore but unceremoniously tries packing off Mrs. Khanna (Kareena Kapoor) to India. Shocked by this harsh move Mrs. Khanna sets up shop in the airport until her husband’s return. In comes Akash (Sohail Khan) who is instantly smitten by Mrs. Khanna and slowly they become close to each other. When Mr. Khanna is back Akash wants to discredit him in Mrs. Khanna’s eyes tries but fails. Inevitably Mr. Khanna confronts Mrs. Khanna about Akash but Mrs Khanna is too dumb to believe that Akash could be love with her. She then decides to confront Akash with the same question – Akash responds rather diplomatically and has an inexplicable change of heart….and the movie ends. There is a so called twist in the end which is supposed to justify Akash’s behavior – but that actually only serves to finally convince Mrs. Khanna (who still can’t believe it!!!) about Akash’s love.

The most bewildering thing about this film is that you have no clue what it is trying to say (or is trying to say something in the first place?) Why does Akash change his mind out of the blue? What about Mr. Khanna who is portrayed as a rather eccentric and unpleasant person for most of the film but towards the end he seems to be exonerated? What exactly is going on in Mrs. Khanna’s mind? What is Bappi Lahiri doing in the film? Why did Preity Zinta have such an awfully bad cameo? In a way Main aurr Mrs Khanna is the most thought provoking film of the year since the number of questions you might want to ask Prem Soni could easily exceed the size of his script.

On the brighter side, this is not really a bad watch if you discount the B-list supporting cast (and promise not to ask too many questions). Sajid-Wajid come up with a pretty good soundtrack which is quite refreshing compared to their usual dance numbers.  All the lead actors perform well but how do you rise above the script when there isn’t one. Main aurr Mrs Khanna is a one-of-a-kind movie which just seems to exist because it has to – it’s your call if you want to watch it for that.

Tashan April 27, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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One of the most awaited films of this year – Tashan is being thrashed all over the place by most critics and audiences. On the face of it, it is yet another of those “guilty pleasure” flicks like Dhoom 2 or Race but rather than trying to pass off its stupidity as intelligence Tashan revels in its dumbness. That’s what probably put off our “high thinking” critics and audiences. Apart from the forced “coolness” at times, I enjoyed Tashan because it was an honest flick which had its intentions clear and doesn’t deviate too far from them.

Jeetendra aka Jimmy Cliff (Saif Ali Khan) is a call center executive who being taken in by the charms of Pooja (Kareena Kapoor) ends up as an English instructor to her boss Bhaiyyaji (Anil Kapoor). Pooja and Jimmy fall in love and now she wants to get away from Bhaiyyaji; for which these two plan to swindle his money. In comes local goon Bachchan Pandey (Akshay Kumar) hired by Bhaiyyaji to trace his money and wipe off Pooja and Jimmy. A few double crossing interspersed with a couple of filmy flashbacks later everyone’s loyalties fall in place.

Writer-Director Vijay Krishna Acharya (who wrote the Dhoom films before) takes an old fashioned revenge drama, gives it a generous Rodriguez/Tarantino coating and a lot of oomph. The end product is far from the perfect blend but it still works. The locales/set design, the styling of the actors and the music/background score dominate every frame and overshadow everything else. There are 2 major action sequences choreographed by Peter Hein but they fail to impress as he mostly lifts those from some of the more prominent South Indian films he has worked for. Interestingly, in a scene when Akshay sends 15-20 men flying around (Tamil-Telugu movie style) half of the audience started clapping. Special mention for Vishal-Shekhar’s rocking score. The theme song “Tashan Mein” which keeps popping up every now and then especially helps when you tend to get restless during the prolonged second half (trimming it definitely would have helped). Rest of the songs are thumping enough and lavishly picturized. Ranjit Barot is credited for the background score and there is one particular short piece which stays with you for quite a while.

But more than anything else what Tashan relies on are the performances of its lead actors. Akshay Kumar gets the most outspoken and in-your-face role and he does full justice to it. His intro was the best of all his scenes. I would say Kareena is really the surprize package because a role like hers comes with a lot of “irritation quotient” attached and in the past she has played parts where she made even normal characters extremely irritating. Somehow this isn’t the case here and she deserves credit for that (and yes…she does don a bikini too!) We don’t need to talk about Anil Kapoor. He’s mastered these supporting roles so well and and more than his crazy Hinglish it is his awestruck reaction to Saif speaking fluent English that is hilarious. Also, he looks great in the “Lakhan” get-up pulling a rickshaw in a few scenes. However, quite a bit of what he speaks is incomprehensible (should probably have been funny if understood) and I wonder how the filmmakers overlooked this aspect. Despite the pre-release hype of having his role being a secret, Saif is the most subdued of them all but nevertheless makes his presence felt.

For me, Tashan came close to the campy B-movie I was waiting Bollywood to make and it kept me smiling most of the time. Go for it only if you can watch it with this perspective.

Jab We Met October 27, 2007

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Imtiaz Ali’s highly underrated debut feature Socha Na Tha brought a certain freshness to chiche-ridden Bollywood romances….with Jab We Met he has mastered the genre completely.

The plot is the typical tried and tested romcom formula. The basic premise (more specifically the part until the protagonists meet) seems to have been a bit inspired from Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown (another underrated romcom). Aditya (Shahid Kapoor/Kapur – no idea about the correct spelling after he split with Kareena) is a failed businessman who on being dumped by his girlfriend ends up in a train with the intention of jumping out of it and ending his life. On the same train is the motormouth Geet (Kareena Kapoor) who ends up sitting next to him trying to strike a conversation. In this process she ends up missing her train multiple times at various stations and he is now given the responsibility of transporting her safely to her destination. Actually, she is on her way to meet her parents for one last time before she secretly packs off to get married to her boyfriend Anshuman (Tarun Arora). How Aditya and Geet’s journey finally gets them together forms the rest of the story.

As in Imtiaz’s previous film the thing which stands out is the brilliant characterization of the protagonists and the dialogue. Kareena’s lines are absolutely hillarious (some of which you might have seen in the promos). The scenes between Shahid and Kareena will have you in splits throughout. The emotional moments are expertly handled too. Though the purpose here is to thoroughly entertain this is not a dumb comedy. The interactions between the lead pair do make you think at times. The screenplay is so good that even the regular “highly irritating Bollywood Punjabi household” charms you.

Pritam’s score is situational and suits the mood of the film. I especially likes the song “Yeh Ishq Haae” for its interesting musical arrangement. Shahid and Kareena deliver their career-best performances. Kareena’s reputation as an actress has been marred by the kind of roles she’s done in the past but this performance of hers shows why she is one of the best actresses we have. Despite not having the best lines, Shahid holds his own with his nuanced performance and never once do you feel that he is overshadowed by Kareena. It is ironical that their pairing which has finally clicked with this film comes immediately after their break-up.

Jab We Met is one of those few flicks in which everything seems to have worked perfectly; you wouldn’t want to find any flaws because it does so well a job of regaling you….whether you are a serious moviegoer or someone just looking out for some timepass. Go watch it!