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Oy! July 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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The first frame of Oy! opens with the director stating his admiration for and admitting his inspiration from Erich Segal’s “Love Story“. In a further (rather too honest) admission, the second frame features a bigger list of about 10 movies or so which inspired him. That second frame is visible on the screen for less than a second – maybe we were really not meant to see it. I think it’s because after watching Oy! some of the audience members would try to figure out where exactly those “inspirations” were and hardly find any.

In essence, Oy! is supposedly a “terminal illness” flick which tries hard at every moment not to appear like one. Probably a good idea if you don’t want to alienate viewers who “cannot accept a heroine dying in the end”. Debutante Anand Ranga seriously needs to get a few basic concepts right. First of all trying to make a tragic story into happy one doesn’t translate to inserting insipid “comedy” tracks whose only connection to the movie is that the actors in them share a scene or two with lead pair. More disturbing is his conception of an “ideal woman” in Shamili’s character – whose simplicity is linked with ease to her dumb religiosity and superstitions.

Shamili is a undoubtedly a fine actress and one has to give her credit for pulling off such a badly written role. Siddharth is a livewire as usual in yet again a role tailor-made for him. Unfortunately, he seems to have been caught like many others in the alternate movie jinx – on the brighter side we can hope that his next much talked about big-budget venture might be a good one. Apart from the lead pair, Yuvan Shankar Raja’s score is the only good thing about this movie. The best numbers show up when the movie still hasn’t begun its downhill ride. My pick is the title track (extremely well rendered by Siddharth) which is still playing in my head.

Oy! doesn’t make you cry when it tries to be tragic nor does it make you laugh when it tries to be funny. I feel some of the reviews of this film have been too generous; however given the involvement of Siddharth with this venture – the outcome is indeed disappointing. Worth only a watch in fast-forward mode when the DVD comes out.

Prayanam June 1, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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You fall in love with a girl you see at an airport and make up your mind to make her fall in love with you before she catches a plane to go and get married to her fiance. Would such a thing work in real life? Well, in all probability not but the bigger question – Does Chandrasekhar Yeleti’s Prayanam work? Hmm…intermittently.

After trying his hand not so successfully at making a regular Tollywood actioner, Yeleti does a U-turn to make a full fledged comic romance with quite an interesting premise. But apart from the basic plot there is hardly anything in the screenplay that holds your attention. The onus here is more on the individual performers to get their act right and this is where the film scores much better. Manoj has always been considered a fine actor despite not having a single hit till date; and here he succeeds once again in a completely different role from his previous ventures. He is quite charming as the smitten loverboy especially because this is a part you generally do not expect a regular hero to play (with the exception of Siddharth I think – but even his films manage to slip in a fight scene or two).

The female lead Harika is absolutely bland bearing a single facial expression throughout. No matter what the situation, her reaction (which is complete non-reaction) is always the same. The pick of the lot is Kalpika who arguably steals every scene she is featured in. To quote Anupam Kher from a forgettable film – She is just “too qweet”. Going by the scenes in the first half, I was actually expecting a parallel romantic thread to brew between her and Tamim (another great find), but nothing exciting like that happens and disappointingly both their screen times are largely reduced in the second half. Janardhan also shines especially in the “Ugra Naram – man with muscle” story narration episode with Brahmanandam. The latter has ample footage but isn’t given a well etched role like the others.

So, should you take this Prayanam? My answer would be a resounding yes if I have to compare this with some other recent “blockbusters”. However, as a film coming from Chandrasekhar Yeleti this isn’t quite up to the mark but then again everday I encounter life size hoardings of upcoming potential blockbusters like Pista, Ride, Current, Aa Okkadu, Naa Style Veru and what not – which makes me feel I was extremely lucky to watch Prayanam.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi December 15, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Blame it on Rab! – Easy isn’t it? That’s what Aditya Chopra pretty much does in every phase of what probably is the most moronic offering from Yash Raj Films in recent times. It’s a pity because the film starts off so well and I was wondering why on earth was it getting mixed reviews. Twenty minutes or so into the movie I started to know why.

RNBDJ is about this average-looking and shy Surinder Sahni (Shahrukh Khan) who happens to get married to the bubbly Taani (Anushka Sharma) unexpectedly after her fiance dies in an accident followed by her father. Both know that this is a marriage of compromise and Taani makes it clear to Surinder that she would never be able to love him. Big hearted Surinder seems completely reconciled to this fact and is happy enough to have received Taani’s promise of being a “good wife”. A few days later Taani expresses her desire to join a reality dance show and Surinder agrees. Now Surinder is happy to see Taani happy and decides to undergo a complete makeover (also rechristening himself “Raj” – what else!) just so that he can sneak into the dance rehersals to watch her “be happy”. Dumb Taani can’t figure it out because the moustache is missing. Raj and Taani slowly become friends and “kyonki ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte” Raj proposes to Taani.

Some explanations are needed here to figure out Surinder’s state of mind. Initially he seems to be an introverted guy with the usual insecurites unable to express his love to his wife. Somehow, after an image makeover all that seems to disappear. Later he wants to test Taani if she loves “her husband” or “Raj”. The answer is obvious to him but now he is kinda adamant that she love Surinder and not Raj. And this is the same man who at the beginning of the movie doesn’t object to his wife telling him that she cannot love him. At the end of all this Surinder comes across as a person who loves to indulge in a lot of self-pity and nothing else. It is even harder to understand Taani. She spends all of her time with Raj and it’s only when he proposes to her that she remembers “Oh…I forgot to tell you that I am married!”. Coming back to the dilemma – who and how does she make her choice? Raj gives the ultimate solution – Choose the one “Jisme Tumhe Rab Dikhta Ho”. Dumb Taani again takes this line literally. Because, next day she is at the Golden Temple with Surinder earnestly begging God to make an appearance in some person – guess whose face Ravi K. Chandran’s camera is focussed on when Taani opens her eyes…problem solved! Thank You Rabji!!!

Apart from this uplifting story you also get to learn a couple of brilliant insights about women like (i) The only thing which any woman wants in life is that someone love her as much as it is possible for one person to love another (ii) A woman recognizes her partner more effectively through his dance moves than his facial features and voice. Shahrukh and Anuskha are very appealing as Surinder and Taani until our lady spots the dance competition poster. From thereon I found it hard to empathize with any of them and especially towards the end I felt like pushing both of them off a cliff. Vinay Pathak as Bobby seemed like the only sane character in the film and one hopes if Surinder actually listented to what he said.

The dialogue apart from being bad has an insanely high overdose of “ji” splattered in every line which gets on to your nerves. Among the few redeemable moments are the beautifully filmed songs “Haule Haule” and “Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke”. The prelude to the “Haule Haule” number which keeps appearing in the background is too good. The film is shot extremely well but the small town setting which was supposed to be conveyed doesn’t work because everything you see in the movie is a set piece except for the title sequence and one scene at the Golden Temple.

In RNBDJ, there are some movies which Surinder takes Taani out for. It is tough to find out whether those were meant to be a parody or not because at the end RNBDJ looks exactly like one of them. One more note to Adi: Please stop referencing Dhoom in your movies as if that is some cult flick which needs to be paid a tribute every time. Aditya Chopra was the creative brain behind a lot of much maligned YRF products in the last few years. When you watch his unadulterated crap in the form of RNBDJ you can guess the amount of influence he might have had in those other films.

All said and done, RNBDJ also has a large share of emotionally manipulative moments (the Sumo Wrestling scene tops the list) which should appeal to a sizeable section of the audience – and may end up becoming a money spinner. I actually would have recommended everyone to watch this one because it genuinely qualifies to be a “so bad it’s good” flick but it requires that you invest a huge amount of patience which is totally unwarranted. You might probably want to give this a try for the aforementioned reason when it comes out on TV or DVD.