jump to navigation

Rann February 5, 2010

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

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.

Advertisements

Phoonk August 24, 2008

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

It’s superstition…till it happens to you! I had found that line quite catchy and also a few of Ramu’s recent blog posts/interviews on the subject made me quite eager to check out his latest offering Phoonk. He also cited his inspiration from Yendamuri Veerendranath’s Tulasidalam where at the beginning the husband is an atheist while the wife is a staunch believer and towards the end they switch places.

However, after watching Phoonk I wish I hadn’t read anything about it and instead expected a timepass horror flick. Because Phoonk turns to be just an average horror movie filled with stock characters who make you laugh more than necessary. And it is quite deficient in spooky moments too. I couldn’t find anything new or different from any other flick except that the “bhatakti aatma taking revenge” is the not cause of bodily possession…but is instead a disgruntled couple performing black magic. The so called conflict between the beliefs of the protagonists are not convincing either. After all, in every horror film doesn’t the protagonist not believe in the supernatural but ends up using the help a tantrik to get rid of the cause of trouble!

I guess the film would have been lot scarier if some of the characters looked/acted normal than like in a Ramsay Brothers movie. One sincere piece of advice to Ramu – Please don’t use more than one dream sequence to generate false scares. It’s quite an outdated technique and highly irritating. Phoonk also suffers from a stuffed-toy/showpiece camera-angle overload. That worked so well in “Bhoot” but here it is very annoying. Generally, I hate it when members of the audience make catcalls and pass comments while watching a horror film but in this case for once I thought it was justified because the movie wasn’t scary at all and neither was able to sustain my interest.

If you want to watch this film then please remove the notion (if you had one like me) that you’ll be treated to some intellectual horror saga which will challenge your beliefs. Sometimes Ramu disappoints you with his films and sometimes with what he says about those same films prior to release. Phoonk falls into the latter category. As a mindless flick for horror fans it’s just about ok.

Contract July 21, 2008

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

Contract is like an unimpressive debut film coming from a Ram Gopal Varma wannabe. Sadly, the fact is that Ramu himself made it but the good news is that he’s made far worse films before. Still, that doesn’t give you a reason to go check this one out even if you are a fan of him.

This is the most amateurish take till date about the story of a cop infiltrating the mob and trying to catch the big fish while fully being an accomplice in their activities….not to forget his internal conflicts when he does all this. Right from the beginning you know this one isn’t going anywhere. Even a realiable regular like Zakir Hussain is made to play the role of a terrorist whose portrayal would make the ones in Sunny Deol’s flicks seem far intellectual and realistic. There is asbolute apathy on the part of the writer and director in every frame. It’s like they said to each other “Let’s make this film so that no one ever touches this genre again”. Even the addition of quirky characters like that of Amrutha Subhash (who plays Upendra Limaye’s wife) doesn’t help for long. Debutant Adhvik Mahajan is a potential Mohit Ahlawat – now that’s good or bad you decide. The only person who makes some sort of an impression is Prasad Purandare.

But to give credit where it’s due Contract isn’t so bad a film that it’ll make you bang your head against a wall…..inducing sleep is all it does. In his blog Ramu said that he just wants to make “thousands of films” – and films like Contract will definitely help him achieve that quickly. Nevertheless, his next August release “Phoonk” looks interesting and I’ll definitely be watching out for that one.

This one’s just another of Ramu’s bad films which you can safely ignore and the fact that I watched it immediately a day after “The Dark Knight” made it more difficult for me to appreciate it even a little no matter how hard I tried.

Sarkar Raj June 7, 2008

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

“How much really can I go wrong with Sarkar Raj???” asked Ram Gopal Varma recently. Despite the statement’s overconfident tone, you would have agreed completely with it (like me) provided you’ve seen and loved Sarkar. Now that the movie is out, I want to say to Ramu “Well….you could have messed it up!”

The film begins two years after it left off with Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan) being addressed as “Sarkar” and now Shankar has established himself firmly as the trusted successor of the original Sarkar (Amitabh Bachchan). In comes Anita (Aishwarya Rai) with a proposal to set up a power plant in one of the villages of Maharashtra. Sarkar isn’t interested in it but Shankar is totally convinced about its utility for the state and presses hard to get this project sanctioned and completed. However, there is more than meets the eye with other bigwigs having vested interests in it. Like in its predecessors there are shifting loyalties, unexpected traitors et al; just like Ramu said – “It’s another series of episodes in the Nagre family”.

But then if you’ve been a fan of the first film you can’t help but notice some major flaws. First and foremost has to do with the characterization of Sarkar and Shankar. The nuances and the grey shades in both characters and the relationship between them which were wonderfully brought out in the previous flick are glaringly missing (or rather inconsistent). Here you see that the father-son duo portrayed as selfless leaders only concerned about the well being of the state and probably to justify this drastic shift there are some redemption dialogues (especially with references to Vishnu’s killing)…and these are the only moments where the “family drama” part comes in. For me, this was the biggest letdown in the movie. Also, the supporting cast of bad guys in this ones aren’t colorful and interesting like before. Only Govind Namdeo as Hasan Qazi stands out a bit. Sayaji Shinde is highly irritating. Dilip Prabhawalkar as Rao Saab is brilliant yet again in an unrecognizable get-up…I fail to recognize him in every movie until I hear his voice. Also the new guy who plays his grandson does a fine job.

If you’ve read till this point and have come to the conclusion that this is probably just an average rehash of “Sarkar” then wait….even I started thinking the same when Ramu’s creative genius pitched in at the right time and thereon the dramatic turn of events in the later portions of the movie till the climax will change your opinion. In fact, the film starts getting better only when the original “Govinda…Govinda” theme arrives. Like a lot of other aspects mentioned before, the use of the background score here pales when you start comparisons. The open-ended climax has made lot of people to speculate about another sequel…but if I had to advise Ramu after Sarkar Raj I’d only ask him to pursue that option if he is going through a bad phase and desperately needs a hit (like now).

In the final analysis, Sarkar Raj works mainly because of its gripping penultimate portions – for the rest of the time it only succeeds in reminding you what a fine film “Sarkar” was. Definitely watchable…nevertheless!

Sarkar June 6, 2008

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

In anticipation of the release of Sarkar Raj this weekend, I watched Sarkar once again.

Director Ram Gopal Varma’s tribute to The Godfather isn’t his first film inspired from that source. He earlier made Gaayam (co-written by Mani Ratnam) in Telugu (and even his debut film, Shiva had some traces of inspiration) where many commercial constraints were adhered to but the film was good in its own way and was a success at the box office too. He reuses some parts of that film here but makes a more intense and largely superior film.

Though the content might have been inspired by The Godfather (and Bal Thackeray), this is a completely different and much more taut film. A few scenes and some themes may be similar but this isn’t a faithful remake. And anyone who wishes to judge this film by comparing it to The Godfather or its various inspirations should strictly sit out.

The screenplay of the film is credited to Manish Gupta but Varma, no doubt, had considerable inputs here. But it isn’t so much the script as it is the direction that defines this film. Ram Gopal Varma’s genius is visible in every frame that is so meticulously shot and his style is what makes this film remarkable. And he is greatly helped by his technicians (cinematographer Amit Roy and editors Amit Parman and Nipun Gupta).

The most striking aspect of this film is the brilliant use of extreme close-ups. A large part of the film doesn’t have any dialogue. Varma uses the expressions of the actors captured so minutely through these close-ups to convey the emotions as well as the subtext. The film depends on it completely. And when the characters do speak, they deliver some zingers.

The accompanying background score by Amar Mohile, tries to elevate every important moment and succeeds (some might not care for such dominance by the music but I do). It is interesting that the Govinda chant that has become quite synonymous with this film was originally composed for Varma’s telugu film Govinda Govinda, which belonged to a completely different genre.

With such close scrutiny of the actors in close-ups, acting becomes an extremely important part of the film and each actor needs to deliver. RGV extracts the required performances from Amitabh to Kay Kay to Katrina Kaif and Tanishaa. Amitabh Bachchan, in the titular role, brings out the required intensity with the right expressions and tone. You can almost feel the same reverence towards his character as his supporters in the film show. On the other hand, he makes the vulnerable side of his character thoroughly identifiable in the scenes in the hospital and home after the attack on him. The way Abhishek is portrayed as an obedient son who does not speak out of turn when the family is discussing business matters in the first half and his transformation when he takes the responsibility upon himself to fill in for his father and take over (note the black shirt that Abhishek wears when the transformation is complete towards the end) is superb. And Bachchan Jr is spot on in his portrayal of Shankar. Kay Kay is possibly the best actor on display in this film and he brings out the vices of Vishnu, the bad son, to perfection.

The supporting cast is great too. Despite many supporting players and limited scope, everybody gets noticed. Supriya Pathak is the best choice for the role of Sarkar’s loving, caring and reticent wife. The little known Rukhsar is very likable in a role where she has almost no dialogue. Even Katrina Kaif and Tanisha who, at the time (or even now) had not delivered any noteworthy performances slip nicely into their roles. Zakir Hussain makes a capable antagonist. Kota Srinivasa Rao, who brings out the sliminess of Silver Mani (or is it Selva Mani?), also serves as the comic relief in the film’s most loquacious character. Ravi Kale, who plays Sarkar’s right hand man also impresses but the same can’t be said about Jeeva’s performance as the wigged over-the-top Swami.

Another interesting aspect is the love triangle. The same triangle was also part of Gaayam as also another film inspired by The Godfather, the Kamal Haasan penned Thevar Magan (Kshatriya Puthrudu in Telugu, remade in Hindi as Virasat with Anil Kapoor). All three films have similar characters involved in a similar conflict (the situation is somewhat different from The Godfather) but each gets its own treatment in keeping with the setting, regional and commercial aspects as well as the focus of the respective films.

This is probably the closest RGV has come to making a family drama. The overachieving father who wonders, like any normal father would, what sins he might have committed to have borne a kid that has taken the wrong path. The bad son, whose need to come out of his father’s shadow ultimately drives him down a path that leaves no redemption. The good son, whose respect and trust in his father bears more importance to him than anything else and his willingness to follow in his father’s footsteps and take over the family’s responsibility. The obedient and caring mother, who easily melts over her son’s apparent repentance, like any average mother, and asks her husband to let her son back into the house. The daughter-in-law who has become such an integral part of the family that she prefers to stay with her in-laws instead of her wayward husband. There is so much here that makes this as much a tale about a family as it is about politics (or politricks as Silver Mani would say). Varma clearly conveys to the audience that this is a family like most others. I especially loved the use of the kid (playing in the background, asking for an ice cream) to bring in the aspect of normalcy. A similar effect is achieved through the game of Carroms, the dinner table conversations, the discussion in front of the television and more.

Different individuals might find different flaws in this film. Some might even hate the very things that I’ve loved. Nevertheless, this is definitely a film that is worth watching multiple times to observe the minutiae. It is the detail that makes this film special. It is the interpretation, focus and execution that makes this film different from the others based on similar material. Watch this once if you haven’t yet. If you have, watch it again to observe the detail that you missed out the first time.