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Kaminey August 18, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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As the end-credits rolled, I was thinking hard if Kaminey was the best Bollywood flick I saw in the last ?? years. I can’t figure out that number yet but if I had make my own top 10 list for the decade, I shouldn’t have much trouble sneaking this one in. Kaminey is just awesome – and this pure awesomeness can unarguably be attributed to the genius of Vishal Bhardwaj – who has concocted a hands down masterpiece.

If you notice, this is the first time that Bhardwaj moves his turf to a city. I’ve always thought that his previous films – no matter how good they were – lost a bit of appeal because of the milieu in which they were set. In interviews about this film, he has mentioned about the Tarantino and Guy Ritchie influences one is likely to find – I think he was being too humble. The beauty of Kaminey is the way it seamlessly subverts and pays tribute to so many genres both Indian and Foreign. It has been misleadingly promoted as a smart crime caper – one of the possible reasons a considerable portion of the audience haven’t really taken to it. Actually, it is a dark crime drama with multiple threads filled with black humor and when you least expect – is emotionally powerful. This is the reason it is hard to label the film.

The first thing which struck me about this movie was the inventiveness of every scene; it gives you an idea about the effort which went into conceiving this. The added technical brilliance – be it the cinematography (Tassaduq Hussain), the score and even the sound recording is something which takes this film to new heights. On top of everything, you have a superb ensemble cast who create memorable characters. Shahid Kapoor is lovable in both the roles – irrespective of how well the film does his “f”-words already seem to be a rage. Priyanka (who is the only female character in the movie to my recollection) gets a great part once again and she does full justice to it. Among the supporting cast, Amol Gupte is superb. Though early on he doesn’t have much to do but at the end of it turns out be the best performance of this enterprise. Tenzing Nima and Chandan Roy are a few of the other characters who make a strong impression.

Bhardwaj’s score has always been the best thing about his earlier films and Kaminey is no exception. This time he and Gulzar come up with the current rage “Dhan Te Nan” among others, which is used to maximum effect. My favorites are “Fatak” and the title track which incidentally come at the beginning and towards the end respectively. After watching the film when I thought writing about it here I wanted to begin by saying – How can one not love Kaminey!!! But looking around a bit made me realize I was too optimistic. For me this was one of those films which reminds why we all love cinema so much.

Dostana November 24, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I wasn’t surprised at the hype this film generated before and after its release. After all, isn’t it coming from Karan Johar’s stable? As you might be familiar, anything closely resembling “bold” from there (or YRF for that matter) is sanctified by the media to the level of national debate. This time it is about the “mature handling of gay relationships”. Yeah right! if making a compendium of Hollywood and Bollywood’s gay jokes till date and using it in a single film means that. Though repetitive most of these gags do make you laugh; especially when you are watching this in a packed auditorium you tend to laugh even at some not-so-funny stuff just because everyone else is.

Sam (Abhishek Bachchan) and Kunal (John Abraham) bump into each other while they are looking for an apartment; however the existing occupant Neha (Priyanka Chopra) needs female roommates but since these guys are desperate for the house, they pretend to be gay in order to bypass the “girls only” clause. The usual gay jokes follow and the tempo hits an all time high with the arrival of Sam’s hyper Punjabi mom (who else but Kirron Kher). Once the jokes run out, the guys decide to fall in love with Neha. But since this is a two hero film where both the heroes are on equal footing when it comes to wooing the girl, it is obvious that a third guy (Bobby Deol) is required to come and take her away. The mush which we are treated to for the next 30 minutes or so is quite irritating – especially since it follows a fun-filled first hour. However, things get back on track as Sam and Kunal try to sabotage Neha’s new found love. The scenes featuring the kid in this part are too good.

Though I mostly enjoyed this flick I wouldn’t call it a great comedy. Like I said before it only works when you are watching it in a packed auditorium. The performances are uniformly good. Abhishek, Kirron Kher and Shrey Bawa (who plays Bobby’s son) stand out among the rest. Priyanka’s outfits are as skimpy as it gets but (as always) I don’t find her hot. Sorry, it’s actually John who wears the skimpiest costumes – during the first few minutes into the movie he seems so desperate to show a glimpse of his butt. But definitely, this is the first film where he actually performs well and is likeable.

Vishal-Shekhar’s music is no great shakes except for the “Maa ka Laadla” song – which works mainly due to the picturization but I find that “Desi Girl” number highly irritating. The film is entirely shot in Miami so there’s lot of eye candy to catch. Tarun Mansukhani – who has been assisting Karan right from KKHH inherits the same style and sensibilities as his mentor. On the whole, Dostana is a timepass fun watch which just entertains as long as it lasts but is nowhere great as described in some glowing reviews.

Fashion November 2, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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The best thing about Madhur Bhandarkar’s films is that as long as you don’t belong to the group of people he is caricaturing – it is a no-holds-barred guilty pleasure trip for the viewer who gets to see folks on high pedestals being brought down mercilessly. Bhandarkar has successfully used this formula in each of his three previous films (Page 3, Corporate and Traffic Signal). This time his focus is the “Fashion Industry” which no doubt provides ample material (probably more than all of this previous films combined) which Bhandarkar is an expert at handling. And yes…he leaves no stone unturned as he throws light on the troubled souls, depraved lifestyles and what not! The director also could only sneak only at most a couple of gay characters in each of his previous films but it’s a dream come true for him and except for Arbaaz Khan (who plays the head honcho of a leading Fashion firm), every designer (without exception) is a homo.

Fashion traces the story of a highly ambitious girl Meghna (Priyanka Chopra) from Chandigarh, who against the wishes of her dad (Raj Babbar) comes to Mumbai with the dream of becoming a supermodel. As expected she finds out everything isn’t so rosy but still the whirlwind success she has goes to her head until everything comes down falling like a pack of cards.Through her journey we also witness the lives and troubles of other people she comes in contact with.

The biggest USP of Fashion is that a lot of real life incidents/people where it takes inspiration from – is the stuff which makes TRPs on news channels hit the roof. No wonder it is all the more interesting when you see it unfold on the big screen. And before you get all too enthused let me warn you there is a big BUT – I still find it hard to digest how the director absolutely loses track about what he wants to convey through the film. A litte comparison with his other films would do good here. Each one (Page 3, Corporate and Traffic Signal – to an extent) involves the journey of the protagonist through a certain industry/lifestyle who ends up completely disillusioned/victimized while the industry/lifestyle in question is laid threadbare. The way these films end was the most appealing part to me (but I know lot of people who aren’t comfy with abrupt, inconclusive and bleak endings).

At the beginning of Fashion you see that Meghna’s father is opposed to her being a model (which we assume is for the usual reasons) but when she ruins herself and comes back home the same guy is now encouraging her to not lose hope, take up the profession again and “fight back”. Almost all through the movie you see the Fashion Industry being ridiculed but the moral of the story at the end seems to be – as long as you don’t take success to your head everything is pretty much fine here – talk about U-turns! Even if you cannot ignore this hard-to-ignore fact Fashion still has Bhandarkar’s masala-realism stamped all over it and except for the somewhat prolonged penultimate portions it keeps you entertained.

There’s a huge cast (with known and unknown faces) but it’s the ladies who rule the roost. Priyanka gets a powerful author-backed role and she does full justice to it. Definitely should be the first choice of this year’s awards simply going by the screen time alloted to the protagonist. Kangana was born to play Shonali. I cannot imagine anyone who can come close to her with a role like this. There are a few sequences where even Priyanka gets to do a similar act – compare her and Kangana and you’ll know what I am talking about. Debutant Mughda Godse is very impressive. Given this is a Madhur Bhandarkar film – the over-the-top gay portrayals are expected and shouldn’t be a reason to cringe. The short background piece (Salim-Sulaiman) which keeps playing throughout is nice.

I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed watching this flick even though at the end I came out with a strong tinge of disappointment at the back of my head. Keeping this aspect in mind, go watch Fashion and I promise you won’t regret it.

God Tussi Great Ho August 16, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Salman Khan has this uncanny ability to be a part of B-grade projects which end up lying in the cans for years (needless to mention producer Afzal Khan is one up on him in this issue). If there is one thing he should be happy about it is that God Tussi Great Ho was the last one in his most recent set of backlogs. And going by the very unusual dedication to the hero at the beginning to the film, it looks like Sallu had something do with the film seeing the light of the day.

Writer-director Rumy Jafry has written most of David Dhavan’s hits so you wouldn’t be at fault if you thought it was David’s film….the catch is – despite using the plot of 2003’s smash hit Bruce Almighty it looks like a nineties David Dhawan film which err…doesn’t work today. But to be honest, if you accept the Blast from the Past experience which this film gives you it is a pretty okay flick (barring those jokes involving Rukhsar). Salman, Sohail and (unexpectedly) Anupam Kher still manage to make you sit this through this one. Amitabh has more like a guest appearance so don’t watch this if you expect to see him do something exciting. Sajid-Wajid’s numbers are tailor made for Khan and hence only work when viewed with the video – there are some unintentionally funny moments in the “Let’s Party” song when poor Salman is made to do more than his fair share of jhatkas. The visual effects – well like everything else are from the nineties.

None of the people involved even bothered to promote the film so that pretty much tell you what they were expecting. I like everyone else had low expectations and hence whatever good is there in this film was like a bonus. But save yourself the trouble and check out Ranbir Kapoor’s Bachna Ae Haseeno – the other Hindi release this weekend which is receiving better reviews than this one.

Love Story 2050 July 7, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Ladies and Gentlemen…..take note – Harry Baweja has set a new benchmark for cinematic realism. Just a couple of instances if you find it hard to believe me. There’s a scene where the time machine takes off for the year 2050. But it’s not just Harman and gang which takes off….you yourself feel that you’ve lived through 42 years on your seat until that scene finally comes. Also, towards the end our hero is supposed to come back to the time machine before a certain deadline so that he’s safely returned to the present otherwise he’s supposed to actually grow 42 years older. A significant proportion of the audience seem to have felt the same would happen to them also and not convinced that Harman would make it in time, they started to leave the auditorium hurriedly.

In between those two events unfortunately you get to see what is undoubtedly most flawless VFX work ever accomplished in Indian Cinema. I said unfortunately only because I feel sorry for those guys at Prime Focus and Weta Digital whose effort in all probability will remain unseeen by those it was intended for. They can thank Harry Baweja for this. It really takes lot of imagination to make such an uneventful and boring film when the theme you are dealing with it time travel and reincarnation. In fact this film is so boring that you won’t even know it is about time travel and reincarnation unless you knew beforehand.

Here is Love Story 2050 compressed for you so you can avoid a trip to the theatre. Guy love girl…girl love guy (repeat cycle till 5 minutes before interval). Then girl die…guy remember girl say she want to travel to “Mumbai 2050”. Guy get brilliant idea that girl will reborn in “Mumbai 2050” and he start time travel to “Mumbai 2050” (Simultaneous, Harry Baweja start throwing 60 crore in drain). “Mumbai 2050” largely consist firangs and rule by gay fashion designers and their creation. Guy find red hair girl who look exactly like her 2008 girl. Finally, red hair girl remember 2008 duet (really nice tune by Anu Malik) and 2008 personal diary and decide to come back 2008. Story End (Simultaneous, Harry Baweja also stop throwing money in drain).

Harman Baweja has to live with being called a Hrithik clone for a while. He does show promise and it is unfair to judge him based on this film….but check out his “Milo na Milo” moves. Priyanka is borderline irritating (more to do with her 2050 costumes). The only time when you actually smile during the movie is when Harman says “I don’t need luck, I have love”. It’s funny because when Daddy Baweja might have thought of that line, he never would have guessed how wrong it would prove for him. Watch this one only if you want to show some solidarity with the VFX team.