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99 May 18, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Thanks to the Film Producers-Multiplex Owners stand-off, there hasn’t been any new Bollywood offering for a while now. Citing the relevance of it being released during the IPL season, the producers of 99 somehow managed to get it out. 99 claims to be the the “coolest crime comedy of the year” – a claim which it admirably lives up to. I noticed that in a few reviews/articles about this film, the directors Raj Nidimoru and Krishna DK have been mentioned as debutants. For those who are not aware, a few years back these guys made a wonderful “crossover” film called Flavors which you should definitely watch. Their latest effort just proves that they are here to stay.

The basic narrative of 99 is similar to Guy Ritchie’s caper flicks – so you have people chasing money, people chasing other people and money jumping places before everyone finally gets what they deserve. The crime backdrop in this one centers around betting and match-fixing in cricket – that’s why it is set in the year 1999. A rather interesting insight which the film constantly seems to allude to are the nascent birth of now ubiquitous pop cultural phenomenon like mobile phones, the Internet, Coffee shops and Bhojpuri Films! 99 is smartly scripted with great humor and unlike similar themed flicks is a lot more believable as there is quite a bit of time devoted to detailing individual characters and their actions. Some have complained about the long runtime resulting because of this but I had absolutely no problems with it.

Most importantly, the primary reason everything in this film works so well is its delectable cast. Kunal Khemu and Boman Irani have the greatest screen time and are delightful. The former is also looking quite good sans his long locks. Mahesh Manjrekar as the local gangster AGM impresses once again – this is the only kind of role he seems to excel in effortlessly. Cyrus Broacha is quite hilarious with his usual brand of humor. Despite having short parts Vinod Khanna and Soha Ali Khan are very impressive. The best accolades should however be reserved for newcomer Amit Mistry who never fails to bring the house down. His scene with Kunal (a glimpse of which is seen in the promos) is the highpoint of the movie.

Technically too the film looks good. The musical score (Roshan Macado, Mahesh Shankar, Shamir Tandon) suits the tone of the film perfectly. The title sequence seemingly inspired from Watchmen is also quite catchy. Going by Bollywood standards 99 is an almost flawless work which is immensely entertaining and equally clever – go for it!

Bommarillu – Love makes life beautiful September 11, 2006

Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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There was so much hype around this movie after it released. The audience was mesmerized. The critics raved. All the NRI students talked about the praise from Jeevi (the very famous online film critic for Idlebrain.com). Discussion boards were filled with comments comparing the movie to films like Ninne Pelladatha, Nuvve Kavali, Arya, Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana and even films of Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. So the expectations were humongous to say the least. However, I tried to keep my expectations low and watched the film. The verdict? When I left the theatre I felt that this was a beautiful film. As I continued to mull over the screenplay, I realised that comparisons to some of those movies is not really uncalled for.

Recently, when I wrote about Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner, I mentioned that there were few movies that aptly depicted a conflict arising due to love between two people. This movie depicts such a conflict realistically. In that movie there was a very relevant social issue like race that provided the conflict. In this movie it is a more simple issue yet very relevant to the Indian community as such. I mentioned earlier in the discussion about Good Will Hunting that Indian parents tend to decide most things for their kids (or at least have a great influence on the decisions) from their career path to their life partner. The issue here is about parents who believe that they are doing the best they can for their children without realising that what is best in their minds is not really what the child needs or wants. This is the crux of the film. Some of the families that came to this movie enjoyed it as much as I did but little did they realise that they themselves are doing some of the things that the father does in the film. In fact some of my friends probably don’t realise enough that we would probably commit some of the same mistakes that the previous generations have been committing. Kids who are like Subbalakshmi (Neha) may not find an issue while kids like Sidhu (Siddharth) will suffocate.

Some of my friends ask me if I mean to say that our parents are committing mistakes when they in fact have our best interests in their mind. Having best interests and doing the suitable thing are two different issues. Every individual has a justification for every action however wrong it may be. We do not act until we satisfy ourselves that it is fine to act that way. Mistakes are a part of every individual’s life and just like us, our parents are no exception no matter how much we love them. I have many friends whose descriptions fit Sidhu, Haasini and Subbulakshmi in the film as far as the relationships with a parent goes (and this relationship might differ between the two parents too). Some have more freedom while some do not have as much breathing space to let their feelings out while others get used to a dependent life and cannot even take a simple decision without enough support. I am generalizing but you should get the picture. I was really moved in the final confrontation between the father and son when I realized that there is so much love, affection and commitment from both parents and children and yet it still creates a confused and unsatisfied child (some people may say that it was the child’s fault because he did not open up earlier but it is the upbringing that makes the child what he is and that is the reason that the child cannot open up to his father). Simple understanding of what a child wants would have gone a long way in creating a happier child, not to mention a more satisfied parent.

Coming back to the movie (written and directed by Bhaskar), this is a magnificent screenplay first of all. We have had a writer-director like Chandrasekhar Yeleti (Aithe, Anukokunda Oka Roju) who has given us tight screenplays without loopholes or the inclusion of irrelevant matter. If Yeleti brought class to the thriller genre, Bhaskar brings the same class to the family entertainers. The brilliance of Bhaskar lies in the fact that the taut script is character driven more than anything else. At many places in the movie, you feel like he might compromise the characters but he stays true to them (especially when Genelia speaks up after the “week” is over). The characters and dialogues are close to reality and reminded me of many people throughout. Of course, the script may not feel perfect to some but better ones are rare in Telugu cinema of recent times. The director rarely tries to manipulate you and the drama nevers gets melodramatic. The movie is abundant in humor as is the current trend for family cinema. There is some really neat stuff here (check out what happens as the titles roll). As a director too Bhaskar is good and there is a lot of attention to detail. Bhaskar seems to be a perfectionist and he definitely has a strong will to succeed. I think he is a superb find though a couple more movies would be needed to decide how good he really is.

Siddharth does an excellent job as the son whose thoughts/ideas/decisions are nipped in the bud. His character is key to the movie and his casting is a good decision. His telugu diction is not really perfect but it is pardonable considering his effort to learn the language. His dances are passable. Genelia’s Haasini character is very believable to me because I have closely known a few people who are childlike in their behavior and are always happy and bubbly. Their enthusiasm rubs over to you. Sidhu’s character falling in love with Haasini’s is very believable because of the fact that she is able to do what he cannot (though love at first sight may seem a bit of a stretch). Haasini’s characterization reminded me of Rekha’s in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Khoobsoorat (one of his great comedies which is not as famous as his others). If you did not like Siddharth in Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana or Salman Khan in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or Kajol in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, you will not like Genelia here but believe me such people do exist. I really did not believe that Genelia could act before this one but the director gets her to emote well (though she overdoes it here and there). Some of the mannerisms are definitely based on the director’s observations. She dances horribly (she actually jumps instead of dancing) but doesn’t do much of it anyway. Savita Reddy’s dubbing has really gotten monotonous over time.

Prakash Raj is perfectly suited for the role of the father (you are also reminded of another excellent portrayal of a father by him in Trivikram’s Nuvve Nuvve). Jayasudha does not have much to do overall but her expressions from time to time add to the movie, justifying her presence. From among the rest of the cast, Sunil is as always excellent (he is one of the few comedians that shows an appreciable variation in the way he portrays different roles). Satya Krishnan (who had a great role in Sekhar Kammula’s Anand) does not have much to do here. Neha (who acted in V.V.Vinayak’s Dil) gets a cameo and does well.

The music by Devi Sri Prasad is very good and so is his background score (compared to the composers from this generation like R.P.Patnaik and Chakri, Devi Sri is the only one that does a decent background score). He comes back to form with this one. If I had to pick a couple of songs, I would pick Appudo Ippudo (sung pretty well by Siddharth with Devi Sri chipping in the background to great effect) and Bommani Geesthe (reminds you of an Ilayaraaja number from Chinna Rayudu but is definitely not a lift) apart from the music bit. The lyrics of Bommani Geesthe are quite good (Bhaskarabhatla).

Coming to the comparisons with various movies. Aditya Chopra’s Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge which ran for over 500 weeks (and is probably still running in Maratha Mandir) had many good things about it but it still manipulated your emotions. The plot wasn’t as character driven as this one and the conflict isn’t as identifiable. Karan Johar’s flicks are all about manipulating your emotions (though they have great humor) as are many flicks from the Chopra/Johar camp. Krishna Vamsi’s Ninne Pelladatha had little manipulation and great identification factor except for the conflict (which to some was not as believable). Vijaya Bhaskar’s Nuvve Kavali, scripted by Trivikram had the best humor of the time when it released but it never had the brilliant characterization of this one though the conflict was believable. Prabhu Deva’s Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana lacked in originality being a mish mash (an excellent one though) of so many bollywood flicks ranging from Maine Pyar Kiya to Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya to Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (M.S.Raju’s script is to blame). Sukumar’s Arya was never really that realistic though the Arya character is what drives that movie. I could go on but comparisons with what are favorite movies for many is probably unnecessary. My point here is that the character driven screenplay, the identification factor and lack of manipulation of your emotions are the key strengths of the movie.

Don’t expect too much from this movie (you may not like it as much as you should if you expect too much). This is a great family entertainer even if you don’t really care about story, screenplay or direction. Watch it even if you do not want to think. Watch it if you enjoy cinema.