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Veer January 28, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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You might have seen the savage bashing this flick has received till now, so I’ll skip that part and write about a few redeeming things about Veer. For starters, when he isn’t sleepwalking through a movie Salman can pull off just about anything and Veer is a perfect example of that. No, it’s far from being a good film but ironically it’s camp quotient works to an extent to make it to the watchable category.

Honestly, I don’t know how Anil Sharma’s Gadar became such a huge hit but the only thing which I actually liked about the film is that one song (Udja Kale Kawa) – which keeps popping up at crucial moments and somehow (unintentionally) seemed to capture the true essence of the film (which was non-existent in the first place). Anil Sharma successfully repeats that in Veer with a couple of numbers – Surili Akhiyon Wali and Kanha – and that’s why I actually liked the film more than I had wanted to. Indeed, the surprise really are Sajid-Wajid who come up with an overall winning score. Apart from the two numbers mentioned before there’s the wonderful “Meherbaaniyan” track – equally well filmed (isn’t is unthinkable not to have an energetic Salman dance number!!!).

Well…that’s pretty much what I liked about the film. Coming to the performances, except for Mithun and Salman none make an impact. I would love to see both of them together again in a better film. I wouldn’t really recommend this film to anyone – except maybe for a Salman Khan fan (or if you happen to share to my quirks for Anil Sharma’s musical money-shots).

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Chandni Chowk To China January 19, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Exactly two years back Nikhil Advani came out with his magnum-opus bomb Salaam-e-Ishq. He seems to have done it all over again now with the much awaited and much hyped Chandni Chowk to China. The extremely well designed promos made CC2C seem like a crazy slapstick comedy with a liberal dose of Akshay Kumar’s martial arts skills thrown in. But one really finds it hard to believe that the writer-director team of Sridhar Raghavan and Nikhil Advani could end up with such an insipid boring film.

The plot which a masala mix of producer Ramesh Sippy’s own films like Seetha Aur Geetha and Sholay along with a dash of Kung Fu Panda and Kung Fu Hustle looks like a foolproof premise for a film in this genre. Sadly, apart from the intermittent laughs CC2C falls flat. Akshay Kumar plays a simpleton cook Sidhu who is mistaken (don’t ask how) to be the reincarnation of a legendary Chinese warrior Lu Sheng; who is now on his way to China to “fulfill his destiny”. Sidhu is fooled by his friend Chopstick (Ranvir Shorey) about the reason he is being taken to China – which really is to get rid of the evil lord Hojo (Gordon Liu). Hojo is also responsible for the separated-at-birth twin sisters (Deepika Padukone).

Until everyone lands in China, things seemed to be going pretty well – the unfunny silliness at times still gels well with the tone of the film. But things go wrong only when we are expected to take the whole thing seriously. Like I said before, the film is absolutely boring for most of the time and that is its biggest unforgivable flaw. The only memorable parts of this whole (mis)adventure are those two hilarious sequences – one in the plane with Akshay and Ranvir; the other being Akshay’s initial training session with Roger Yuan.

I’ve never been a huge fan of Akshay but this is honestly the film where I really loved him. In his last few comedy flicks he might have come across as repetitive but here he shows a different slapstick side of his which really saves the film from sinking completely. Ranvir Shorey also has his moments but they are are far and few. Roger Yuan is also fine. Deepika apart from being good eye candy has nothing else to do. Unfortunately, Mithun Chakraborty is saddled with a rather loud role which he seemed clearly uncomfortable with. The action sequences have nothing new to offer if you have seen any Kung Fu flick before – the “cosmic” kicks and punches seem more like improvised flying people stunts from South Indian flicks.

The music is quite good – credited to Kailash-Paresh-Naresh, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Bhappi-Bhappa Lahiri (just remixing the old hit – Bombay Se Aaya Mera Dost). I loved the “Naam Hai Sidhu” track. It’s one of those simple and earthy numbers like Haule Haule from RNBDJ which makes the film come to life whenever it is playing in the background. The end credits feature Akshay Kumar performing a self-aggrandizing rap number and ironically CC2C has turned to be the flick which might potentially be his first Box Office turkey after a long time; unless the opening weekend collections save it to an extent. Catch it only if you are a huge fan of Akshay Kumar.

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.