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Rann February 5, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Ramu’s take on the media looks more like a Bhandarkar-esque affair – still it works because the film doesn’t compel you to take it seriously. This is a theme whose Bollywoodization was long overdue and even if the end result seems inexcusably dumbed-down, it is still fairly engaging. I actually loved Paresh Rawal as the vile politician – it’s been so long since he has played a role like this. Even though it is hands down the most throwback eighties character you’ve probably seen on screen these days.

My favorite nevertheless was Mohnish Behl – as the scheming head-honcho of a news channel he is top class – would love to see him more on the big screen. Sudeep, Suchitra and Rajpal Yadav are also impressive. Surprisingly the lead characters – Amitabh and Ritesh are the most uninteresting characters of the entire enterprise. The latter especially plays the dumbest investigative journalist ever – somebody please tell him that there is a silent mode on a cell phone, a rear view mirror to a car and that it is possible to make copies of DVDs.

Rann is far from being among RGV’s better films, still it makes the cut when you compare it with his more recent ventures. Worth a look.

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.

Bhool Bhulaiyaa October 29, 2007

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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First a bit of history for those who don’t know. Originally made by Fazil in Malayalam as Manichitrathazu, which was then remade in Kannada by P. Vasu as Apthamithra (still considered to be the biggest hit in Kannada cinema) who again remade it in Tamil/Telugu with Rajnikanth as Chandramukhi. Vasu was supposed to remake it again in Hindi with Amitabh Bachchan but Priyan finally ended up doing it.

If you have seen any of these movies previously then Bhool Bhulaiyya hasn’t anything more nor less to offer. Otherwise it’s a pretty interesting watch provided you don’t end up scrutinizing it for loopholes. A haunted mansion in some village scares everyone living around that place for it is supposed to be inhabited by the ghost of a court dancer who’s waiting to avenge the death of her lover by killing the king who happened to cause all her misery. Certain sightings by a few villagers and a few unexplained happenings strengthen the legend. Now arrives the new “king” Siddharth (Shiney Ahuja) with her new wife Avni (Vidya Balan). Avni, despite opposition from Siddharth’s family wants to stay in the mansion and even ventures out into the exact place where the ghost seems to reside. Again, a new slew of incidents begin to bother everyone around with the suspicion centred on Radha (Amisha Patel) – for she has to mend a broken heart owing to Siddharth’s unannounced marriage. In comes Siddharth’s friend and psychiatrist Aditya (Akshay Kumar) who finally solves the puzzle.

The best part of this film (or the other remakes) is that it tries to be lighthearted while taking the plot along which makes sure that people don’t end up analyzing it too much. Though the efforts to make you laugh by Priyan’s usual suspects fall flat most of the times the arrival of Askhay Kumar brings in the required relief. Akshay has been doing similar stuff for the past 2-3 years but I personally felt this to be his best in recent times. He really holds the whole film together. Vidya Balan is repetitive. She seems to be doing those same textbook “performance oriented” roles on her to way to becoming a big bore like Rani Mukherji. Her performance in the climactic portions will definitely not be remembered (and endlessly parodied) like those in the south indian versions (Jyothika, Soundarya, Shobana). Amisha Patel thankfully doesn’t have to act except for a couple of scenes which is good for the film. Shiney Ahuja seems to have been given a part written for Suniel Shetty.

The unprecedentedly popular and catchy “Hare Krishna Hare Ram” (Pritam) song which appears in the end credits has now been incorporated into the movie again before Akshay’s entry. The other song which is pleasing is “Allah Hafiz”. Priyadarshan’s comic capers have not been faring too well in the recent past and his attempts to make you laugh here┬ádon’t work much either┬ábut an engaging “psychological thriller” plot more than makes up for it. You can definitely watch this.

Ram Gopal Varma Ki Aag (Ram Gopal Varma Aggi) September 5, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Fans of Sholay should keep away from this film. For the uninitiated, this is director Ram Gopal Varma’s re-imagination of the most popular masala action flick that Hindi cinema has seen. The title is intended to give the feel of the revenge sagas of the seventies and eighties while the name of the director himself indicates that this is his version of the film for which he intends to take the credit/blame for. Individually, I would say that half of the scenes in the movie work while half fall flat completely. However, as a whole, this is an unmitigated disaster. It leaves no impact whatsoever despite occasional flashes of technical brilliance.

In Varma’s defense, I would like to say that I have watched every one of his films and though he’s hurriedly made a few, none of them suffer from such a lack of continuity as this one. Considering that he claims to be the No.1 fan of Sholay and it was one of his dreams to remake this, one wonders if he had to cut out a lot of the scenes due to the court case that also required him to change the names of the characters (it could also be that cutting down the overlong Sholay was a difficult task). Despite that there are many other flaws. Foremost in my list is the highly inconsistent tone of the film. While part of it is like a seventies movie in terms of humor, action and romance, the rest of it is serious drama (more Varma’s style than the style of the Westerns that inspired Sholay) where almost none of the emotions manage to strike a chord. This seriously mars the film. The audience who like the dramatic moments loathe the seventies style humor and missing logic. The audience who watch this film hoping for a masala film are bored to death by the slow moving drama and dialogue. RGV seems to have focussed on some aspects of the film while neglecting some others. This results in a half-baked product that is a definite no-no at the box office from the word go.

Continuing further, the setting of the film doesn’t work at all. The setting of the original really gelled well with the film but the shift to the city loses what was essentially a character itself in the original. The back stories added to the film as a result of Ramu’s imagination seem arbitrary and add nothing whatsoever to the film. Another major drawback for this film is the comparisons with the original. These are inevitable but the standalone product is bad in any case and the comparisons bring it down further. The soundtrack of the film is of the catchy variety that sounds fine on screen (unless you dislike loud music) but you probably wouldn’t remember it a few months from now.

Amitabh and Mohanlal are super. Sushmita is good. Though he is raw, newcomer Prashant Raj (a huge improvement over the initial choice, the man with no expression, Mohit Ahlawat) has a good screen presence and does respectably well in his debut (without any comparisons of course). Nisha Kothari does a decent job (but I’m sure there are many who disliked her role and end up blaming her performance for it). I had issues with Ajay Devgan’s performance. Devgan doesn’t pull off the style of humor which Dharmendra managed to do so well in the original Sholay. He is miscast. Sushant Singh is good. Rajpal Yadav is extremely irritating and puts you off right at the beginning of the film.

The film does have a few things going for it but the abundance of flaws means that most critics haven’t even mentioned any of those. So here is my limited appreciation. The re-imagination of Gabbar as Babban is quite good. I liked the design of the character, his henchmen and the sets. It seems that Ramu has spent considerable time on this. Since the intent is different, the effect of this character is also quite different from that of Gabbar. I liked most of the sequences involving Babban. Many of the scenes featuring Inspector Narasimha are well executed as well. It is these sequences that make you sit through the film despite a lackluster start compounded by the boring romantic track and unfunny humor ending with a dismal climax. The Mehbooba song is well shot, choreographed (Ganesh Hegde), composed (Ganesh Hegde) and performed (Urmila and Abhishek). I especially loved the set for the song (Nitin Desai). The only other song that works to an extent is the Holi track while the rest of the songs are quickly forgotten. Technically, this film definitely has the RGV stamp all over it but technique alone isn’t enough for this film to appeal to even hardcore Varma fans.

Considering the dismal remakes of Shiva and Sholay, one would be tempted to assume that Ram Gopal Varma isn’t very good at adapting or re-imagining films. But you have films like Sarkar (inspired from The Godfather and Ramu’s own Gayam that was his first take on the classic), Bhoot (re-imagination of his own Raat/Raatri), Satya (a superb gangster film that was a much better reworking of his flop, Drohi/Antham) and on-the-run films like Anaganaga Oka Roju, currently being remade as Go (using the same formula as his classic, Kshana Kshanam that also inspired the dud, Daud) that show his versatility for the task. This time though he has gone horribly wrong and I would blame it on the fact that this is not so much a re-imagination (I had hoped it would be) as it is a remake with a few back stories, minor changes in characters and a change in tone (inconsistent one at that). RGV seriously needs to focus more on each of his projects instead of devoting his time to so many at once. One wonders what would be the fate of his other venture Darling that is releasing this weekend (some doubt if he actually directed it). I hope that his next project currently under production, Sarkar Raj is a worthy successor to Sarkar and brings back Varma at his best.