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Wake Up Sid October 16, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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It’s not very often that one gets to see characters portrayed with who you can identify with so closely. It’s another thing that instead of taking your protagonist through uncharted terrain you settle for putting him in the regular triumphant coming-of-age script – and that’s exactly why I felt a bit cheated with Wake Up Sid. That it’s an extremely well made film – there is no doubt; but then it could have been so much more – maybe I was a bit too impressed at the beginning that I forgot this is a product from KJo’s stable.

Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) is exactly the kind of guy who the rest of the “mature” world prods on to “wake up”. But Sid has other plans (or rather lack of them) and finds himself in a spot when after an unsavory incident he is homeless. Not for too long though, for Sid has found his way into newfound friend Aisha’s (Konkona Sen Sharma) apartment. You know the rest – it’s all about Sid waking up – to life and (surprise)….love! Debutant Ayan Mukherji has inherited his mentor’s visual sensibilites and has admirably taken a few taken a few steps forward when it comes to the writing. There are some really wonderful moments in the film – the best one’s being the emotional and confrontational scenes between Sid and his parents. The humor is also quite breezy but the best part is the superb cast.

Ranbir is just too believable as Sid which why you can so closely relate to his character. Konkona, Supriya Pathak, Anupam Kher also deliver praiseworthy performances. There are quite a few new faces like Shikha Talsania, Namit Das, Kainaz Motiwala and Jason Mehta who are very impressive. The funniest moment in the film (though unintentional) comes when you realize that Rahul Khanna gets to play the leading lady’s boss yet again (not to mention that he isn’t going to get her in the end yet again). Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver yet another winning soundtrack which provides the perfect mood for the film. Wake Up Sid is a really nice watch but I do wish its plot was as real as its leading man.

Bachna Ae Haseeno August 18, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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As Ranbir Kapoor kick-starts the proceedings with his dad’s energetic title song you can’t help but acknowledge again (if you have seen Saawariya) that this guy is absolute star material. And if you thought he showed some promise in his debut what you’ll see him doing here is miles ahead. Also, YRF seems to have made a conscious effort here to project him as their successor to Shahrukh Khan. Alas, one only wishes if the film could have been as good.

Bachna Ae Haseeno is about the quintessential playboy Raj (Ranbir Kapoor) who with his “Rajgiri” gives a massive heartbreak to two women at different times in his life. The first one – Mahi (Minnisha Lamba) is a DDLJ freak who is on the lookout for her “Raj” in Europe and finds one in our Raj. But Raj leaves her after a night’s fling. The second one – Radhika (Bipasha Basu) is an aspiring model who has a live-in arrangement with Raj but is ready to give up everything and get married to him when Raj has to relocate to Australia. But he gets the jitters and slips away on the day they were supposed to get married. Years later when he’s truly fallen in love with Gayatri (Deepika Padukone) and proposes to her, he is rejected (and extremely dejected)….and then he realizes what the other two girls might have felt. Following which he sets out on a redemption tour asking the earlier women in his life for forgiveness. Seems that both ladies haven’t yet gotten over him and as a result screwed up their lives in different ways. Would Raj’s forgive-me mission set things right for them and will he win back the love of Gayatri? – Of course yes! What else can you expect from a Yash Raj Film.

The good things abruptly come to an end once Raj reaches out to Radhika in the second half. Whatever happens from thereon till the end is pretty silly. The most glaring flaw however is the inconsistent handling of Gayatri’s character. In one scene she claims she doesn’t believe in marriage and doesn’t need a man in her life, a few minutes later she is singing a duet with Raj and then when Raj proposes to her she rejects him saying that she won’t marry because he might not let her drive a Taxi during nights to pay for her B-school expenses! And as we come to know towards the end she immediately realizes that rejecting him was wrong and instantly reconciles….how convenient! Looks like Aditya Chopra and Siddharth Anand just wanted to say “When good people dump someone they start feeling sorry asap and try to bring them back into their lives”.

I am pretty sure no one is going to come out this film satisfied but there are lots of factors which still make it worth a watch. For once, the casting and performances are perfect – Minnisha stands out among the ladies more so because hers seems to be the only well-defined character and she has this very cute Punjabi accent. Hiten Paintal as Ranbir’s sidekick is also impressive (apparently both their dads had similar roles in the original film featuring the “Bachna Ae Haseeno” track). Kunal Kapoor (quite unrecognizable at first) appears in a nice cameo. Vishal-Shekhar’s score is apt. The “Khuda Jaane” track stands out and works very effectively when used as part of the background score. Ditto for the trumpet piece from the title track. The foreign locales are exploited quite well too.

Bachna Ae Haseeno could have been a great flick but fails to reach its potential due to some uninspired writing in the second half. But I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted entertainer.

Saawariya November 11, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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I fell in love with the theatrical trailer of this film the first time I saw it. The trailer seemed to be a small piece out of director Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s canvas for Saawariya and I was waiting with bated breath for the completed painting. Though the master paints a great picture and transforms the audience into a dream world envisioned in his mind, he falters with the content.

First, the positives. The visual style of this film is striking. Bhansali (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas, Black) has always made visually pleasing, dramatic films. The former aspect is always the one that sticks the most in my mind. This film is no different. He creates a world of his own for this film. A city that doesn’t exist anywhere. One which borrows from many locations. A place where the weather follows Bhansali’s imagination. The film is completely shot on opulent sets that are wonderfully designed to exact specifications (the lighting choices are not the best at times) and even the sky isn’t real (visual effects are quite good). To bring this predominantly blue-green world to life, Bhansali collaborates with production designer Omung Kumar (and Vanita Omung Kumar) and cinematographer Ravi K Chandran (who were also a part of Black). The costumes (Rajesh Pratap Singh, Reza Shariffi, Anuradha Vakil) are beautiful, the choreography (Shiamak Davar, Ganesh Hegde, Mallu, Pappu) is superb and even the movements of the actors in the individual scenes seem to be choreographed by Bhansali. And the result is some brilliantly imagined and executed visuals. This film provides enough enchantment for the eyes to warrant a watch (for those that are interested in that sort of thing). My favorite scene in this film is the one where the main protagonists are jumping over puddles of water (that are also specially created).

The film is a musical in the Hollywood sense of the term (with a song popping up every few minutes and poetry replacing the spoken word) and the soundtrack is remarkable. Monty Sharma (Pyarelal’s nephew and Mithoon’s cousin) makes a commendable debut. It is hard to pick one favorite from among the two versions of Saawariya, Masha Allah, Yoon Shabnami and Thode Badmash (whose tune was composed by Bhansali himself). The quality of the lyrics (Sameer, Sandeep Nath, Nusrat Badr) is great and the singers do a superb job too. Debutants Shail Hada, Parthiv Gohil together with Kunal Ganjawala and Shreya Ghoshal do their best in rendering the painstakingly created numbers as they add their bit in creating some unforgettable songs.

Bhansali extracts good performances from the star kids in their launch vehicle. Ranbir Kapoor (Rishi Kapoor’s offspring) makes an impressive debut and the film revolves around his character. He is a charming young fellow that seems set for bigger things. Bhansali pays tribute to Raj Kapoor in numerous ways including a visual recreation of the RK banner’s logo. Even Rishi Kapoor is invoked a couple of times. Sonam Kapoor (Anil Kapoor’s daughter) is a beautiful girl and her smile is captivating. She emotes well and shows potential. Though Rani Mukherjee, who isn’t specially impressive, gets a character that is an important part of the script, I am not convinced about the necessity of its presence in the film. Salman Khan has very little to do in his special appearance. Zohra Sehgal gets a neat supporting part and she is charming as usual.

Now, the negatives. The problem with this film that it remains a short story (based on “White Nights” by Fyodor Dostoyevsky), one that can actually be described in a few lines (Boy falls in love with girl. Girl is waiting for her lover, who may never show up. Boy tries his best too woo the girl. And I’ll leave the rest to your imagination). The screenplay (Bhansali and Prakash Kapadia) does little to add meat to the story. Interestingly enough, the underlying theme is sort of like Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam revisited, shortened and reversed to an extent. The characters are clearly from the Bhansali world but they stop short of being memorable. The film does have its share of fascinating moments but not enough to make it a very good one.

This film is most definitely not one that is looking to entertain like a Bollywood potboiler. The film unfolds at its own pace but provides an experience that is firmly entrenched in my mind. I am not sure that this film will be a crowd pleaser (its business prospects might be hampered by Farah Khan’s Shah Rukh Khan starrer Om Shanti Om, which is only looking to entertain) but there will be a select few who will enjoy this greatly.