jump to navigation

A Wednesday ! October 7, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

For once, one can claim rightfully that Bollywood had delivered a true edge-of-the-seat thriller. And that’s good enough reason not to miss this one. It all happens on a Wednesday as Police Commissioner Prakash Rathod (Anupam Kher) sets out to handle the toughest case in his life. An unknown caller (Naseeruddin Shah) demands the release of 4 “terrorists” and in return promises to reveal the location of multiple bombs he has planted in different parts of the city. A few incidents later Commissioner Rathod realises that the guy isn’t joking and moreover that getting hold of him isn’t as simple as he might have thought. That’s pretty much of the plot one can reveal without spoiling the experience of people intending to watch it.

A Wednesday is a very well-intentioned film. It has a point to make and does it very well. But in the process it makes quite a few simplistic assumptions about important issues. If you really think – you’ll end up asking a lot of questions for which the film has no convincing answers. One needs to keep that in mind before watching this for the film’s intelligence is in its execution rather than content. This film never relies on snazzy editing techniques or any other visual paraphernalia to generate the thrills. It simply shows that all you need is a crisp screenplay devoid of unnecessary scenes to hold your audience’s attention.

Naseeruddin Shah is expectedly brilliant. His portrayal is so convincing that many questions which would otherwise have been raised about his character simply vanish when he is in charge of the proceedings. Anupam Kher is apt as the Police Commissioner. It’s actually Jimmy Sheirgill’s turn as the volatile tough-as-nails encounter specialist which impressed me the most. Probably the first time I’ve seen him in such an avatar. Let’s hope this gets him more mainstream roles.

This is the second film of this year (after “Aamir”) helmed by a deubtant (Neeraj Pandey) which has opened to rave reviews. And fortunately, unlike the other one it has performed pretty well at the box office – quite an encouraging sign. Whatever loopholes you might find with A Wednesday are only after you are done watching it. The almost breathless two hours as the film unfolds won’t give you a chance to do anything else than remain glued to the screen.

Jaane Tu…ya jaane na July 5, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
4 comments

It’s a safe bet to define something as a “genre” when you’ve seen at least 3 films dealing with the same theme. Going by that Jaane Tu…ya jaane na very suitably falls into one I’d call the “Pyaar Dosti Hai” flick (courtesy: Karan Johar).

Call me immature if you want but I seriously cannot digest it when a guy and a girl who are “inseparable best friends” get the shock of their lives when someone suggests/suspects that they love each other. And then every few years comes a filmmaker who takes just about 180 minutes or so to make these “friends” realize that they really “love” each other and in the process (almost always) reaps rich harvest at the Box Office. For me, these really are pointless films but who cares as long as they entertain – and Jaane Tu… does a really good job at that. Abbas Tyrewala is probably the only screenwriter in recent times who many viewers actually recognize by name and he proves again why that is so. With a clever screenplay which makes use of every cliche in the book yet manoeuvring it around to deliver what undoubtedly is the smartest feel-good flick in a very long time.

Now let’s talk about Imran Khan….wasn’t all the hype around this film about him anyways! Again smart is the word to describe his debut. For someone like him, a mega-budget solo hero flick showcasing every ability he has would have definitely bombed. Imran much like Ranbir Kapoor has such a pleasing screen presence that you instantly take a liking to him. His deep voice is his biggest asset. Like every debutant, there are some raw edges but in a film and role like this they only serve to give that natural touch which is so essential.

The biggest shock I got in the movie was when Genelia utters her first lines. Since so many years, we’ve been used to seeing her regularly in Telugu flicks so getting to hear her real voice was quite unnerving at first. She does well though it comes across as a bit repetitive if you have seen her before. Among the other young cast Manjari Phadnis and Prateik Babbar are great. But on top of my list is Ratna Pathak Shah. It’s been ages since I’ve seen such a loveable on-screen mother. Also a huge round of applause for those very sportive cameos from Naseeruddin Shah, Sohail Khan and Arbaaz Khan. And we all know what A.R Rahman brings to a film…it’s redundant writing about it so I’ll skip that part except that new-find Rashid Ali is someone we’ll surely get to hear more.

For all its pointlessness and silliness Jaane Tu…ya jaane na made me leave the theatre with a big smile. Needless to mention producer Aamir Khan has another winner on his hands.

Dus Kahaniyaan May 8, 2008

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“Six Visionary Directors. Ten Spectacular Stories. One Cinematic Journey.” claims the poster of this film. I believe they’ve used the wrong words. So here is my correction.

Six ordinary directors (nothing visionary about them).
Ten unconnected short stories (nothing spectacular about them).
One cinematic experience (not a journey since it doesn’t really take us anywhere).

Ram Gopal Varma’s portmanteau films, Darna Manaa Hai and Darna Zaroori Hai, had to face flak for their weak connecting threads. Sanjay Gupta (producer and director of 4 segments in this film) decides that his attempt will keep the stories unconnected. Now that raises the question, “Why is this considered a film?”. This could easily have been a television miniseries. I would have thought that something should have been common to the various pieces, even if it was very vague or abstract (location, character, theme, event, message, genre, anything!). But to the best of my knowledge, nothing, except the fact that they are short stories, links them together.

This anthology is aimed at providing a novel cinematic experience for Hindi film lovers but is it good enough to warrant a watch?

One story definitely makes the cut. Written by Gulzar and helmed by Sanjay Gupta, Gubbare featuring Nana Patekar and Anita Hassanandani (wasn’t she called Natassha for a while?) stands out. This is a lovable piece about relationships between couples and how they don’t make the best use of their time together. Gulzar’s dialogue is the strength of this story and Nana Patekar does a super job enacting his part. Anita isn’t bad either.

Rice Plate (written by Sanjay Gupta and helmed by Rohit Roy) is a simple tale of a misunderstanding that has been used for comic effect elsewhere. Here Gupta intertwines it with religion using a bigot as the main protagonist, making the message more pertinent. Shabana Azmi is brilliant but Naseeruddin Shah gets little to do. Meghna Gulzar’s Pooranmasi (written by Meghna based on a story by¬† Kartar Singh Duggal) also has an interesting storyline and is well executed.

The segments helmed by Sanjay Gupta (who is also credited for writing most of them) are stylishly shot and are moderately watchable. Matrimony (apparently inspired by Roald Dahl’s short story Mrs. Bixby and the Colonel’s Coat), Zahir (written by Rajiv Gopalakrishnan) and Strangers in the Night (story by Gupta and screenplay by Sudipto Chattopadhyay) depend almost entirely on their final twists (meaning that you either chuckle at the irony and think it is amusing or deplore it completely) while Rise and Fall (said to be inspired by Ching Po-Wong’s Blood Brothers) has some interesting moments, mainly the Rise part of it.

Jasmeet Dodhi’s difficult to digest Lovedale (written by Kamlesh Pandey), Hansal Mehta’s pointless and uninteresting High on the Highway (written by him) and Apoorva Lakhia’s awful B-grader Sex on the Beach (written by Shibani Tibrewala) fall on the lower end of the spectrum.

The problem with a majority of the stories is that they lack the appeal, identification, observation or irony that could make them memorable. Some of them could easily have been formulated in an ill-conceived minute or two. The good thing about the film is that the stories are short (ten stories in two hours – you do the math) and finish before any of them can truly irritate you. Hence, this collection of short films might just have enough to satisfy you if you are looking for something different from the average hindi film.

Mithya February 14, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

Loosely translated as “illusion”, Mithya happens to be the first film of the year which has the critics raving about it (going by the initial reviews Jodhaa Akbar seems to be next in line).

At first glance when you catch a promo of Mithya it gives the impression of being a low budget tongue-in-cheek take on a story like that of Don. The initial moments too pretty much confirm the same but an hour into the film you realize it is going to be anything but that. To put it crudely, this is more closer to let’s say Don caught in a Paheli-esque conundrum. I won’t describe the plot any further because that surely would strip away most of the surprises in the story. Rather than simply being a smart film with interesting twists it really touches you in the latter half…as you cannot help but sympathize with the protagonist (Ranvir Shorey). The situations he is caught in, the consequences he faces and his response to it are all brought out beautifully. I felt a bit depressed for quite a while after watching this.

The ever dependable Ranvir Shorey makes the most of his first full-fledged leading role to full effect and with the supporting cast of Vinay Pathak, Naseeruddin Shah, Neha Dhupia, Iravati, Saurabh Shukla, Harsh Chaya (and others who I haven’t mentioned) it is tough to go wrong. Rajat Kapoor (who earlier made Raghu Romeo and Mixed Doubles) does a great job of writing and directing this flick. He relies mostly on his situations and actors where in such films the general tendency of filmmakers is to try and be pretentiously quirky. Thankfully, producer Arindam Chaudhury seems to have made a wise decision to not make a film whose script is derived from “market research techniques” (whatever that phrase meant!).

Overall, a very justified addition to the much coveted list of “critically acclaimed” Bollywood flicks.