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Ghajini January 4, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Nobody needs a review to decide whether to watch the biggest blockbuster of the year or not. But for those who haven’t yet seen this yet, it would do good to set your expectations right especially you have seen the original. If you haven’t seen the original then still please don’t go in expecting in some masterpiece like what it is made out to be.

Ghajini is more like a Bollywood viewer’s initiation into the world of South Indian action cinema. Thanks to the hype around this flick, everyone by now should atleast be aware of the plot – an anterograde amnesiac on a revenge mission – to be precise. Right from the title sequence, Ghajini for most part is a faithful scene-to-scene, dialogue-to-dialogue reproduction of the original. In fact for the portions not featuring Aamir Khan and Jiah Khan, they could actually have reused footage from the Tamil version and still no one would have noticed. What seemed to have worked well especially here are the action sequences. One section of the audience (presumably the exclusive Bollywood viewers) kept getting visibly excited whenever Aamir screams ala Sunny Deol and bashes up multiple guys at once. Those who didn’t seem too excited (including me) were (probably) thinking – ok…now we have to start getting used to this in Hindi too!!!

Aamir Khan – playing an action hero after a long time is great as long as he is bashing up people. When compared to Surya, he goes over the top sometimes – especially when he screams in anger. Surya was a lot more consistent in maintaining that bewildered and confused look throughout. But I couldn’t come to grips with loverboy Aamir (especially in comparison with Surya). Maybe he’s too old for this now and most importantly his styling for this part is hard to digest. He is supposed to be the CEO of a huge firm and he is dressed like a cross between a waiter, a bouncer and a bodyguard. It looks all the more ridiculous in those scenes when he is surrounded by his assistants all dressed in dapper suits. Asin again successfully reprises the part which really made her career down south. It’s one of those extremely crowd pleasing roles which still hold appeal on repeat viewing. Jiah Khan and Pradeep Rawat are alright.

In what is probably his most prolific year, A.R Rahman comes up with another successful score – though this would be of lesser significance when you compare it with his other soundtracks earlier in the year. Not sure if he actually did the background score because during the climactic sequences the theme which you get to hear sounds very familiar. The picturization of the songs is excellent nevertheless. There was also this huge thing about Aamir Khan rewriting the climax of the original for this one. If you go in expecting some drastic change/twist you’ll be sorely disappointed. It’s just been simplified to do away with the villain playing a dual role here.

Honestly, I was bored for most part as there is absolutely nothing in it to hold the interest of those who have the Telugu/Tamil version still fresh in their minds. For first timers planning to watch this, Aamir Khan playing the tough-as-nails 8-pack action hero should be good enough reason not to miss it.

Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi December 15, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Blame it on Rab! – Easy isn’t it? That’s what Aditya Chopra pretty much does in every phase of what probably is the most moronic offering from Yash Raj Films in recent times. It’s a pity because the film starts off so well and I was wondering why on earth was it getting mixed reviews. Twenty minutes or so into the movie I started to know why.

RNBDJ is about this average-looking and shy Surinder Sahni (Shahrukh Khan) who happens to get married to the bubbly Taani (Anushka Sharma) unexpectedly after her fiance dies in an accident followed by her father. Both know that this is a marriage of compromise and Taani makes it clear to Surinder that she would never be able to love him. Big hearted Surinder seems completely reconciled to this fact and is happy enough to have received Taani’s promise of being a “good wife”. A few days later Taani expresses her desire to join a reality dance show and Surinder agrees. Now Surinder is happy to see Taani happy and decides to undergo a complete makeover (also rechristening himself “Raj” – what else!) just so that he can sneak into the dance rehersals to watch her “be happy”. Dumb Taani can’t figure it out because the moustache is missing. Raj and Taani slowly become friends and “kyonki ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahin ho sakte” Raj proposes to Taani.

Some explanations are needed here to figure out Surinder’s state of mind. Initially he seems to be an introverted guy with the usual insecurites unable to express his love to his wife. Somehow, after an image makeover all that seems to disappear. Later he wants to test Taani if she loves “her husband” or “Raj”. The answer is obvious to him but now he is kinda adamant that she love Surinder and not Raj. And this is the same man who at the beginning of the movie doesn’t object to his wife telling him that she cannot love him. At the end of all this Surinder comes across as a person who loves to indulge in a lot of self-pity and nothing else. It is even harder to understand Taani. She spends all of her time with Raj and it’s only when he proposes to her that she remembers “Oh…I forgot to tell you that I am married!”. Coming back to the dilemma – who and how does she make her choice? Raj gives the ultimate solution – Choose the one “Jisme Tumhe Rab Dikhta Ho”. Dumb Taani again takes this line literally. Because, next day she is at the Golden Temple with Surinder earnestly begging God to make an appearance in some person – guess whose face Ravi K. Chandran’s camera is focussed on when Taani opens her eyes…problem solved! Thank You Rabji!!!

Apart from this uplifting story you also get to learn a couple of brilliant insights about women like (i) The only thing which any woman wants in life is that someone love her as much as it is possible for one person to love another (ii) A woman recognizes her partner more effectively through his dance moves than his facial features and voice. Shahrukh and Anuskha are very appealing as Surinder and Taani until our lady spots the dance competition poster. From thereon I found it hard to empathize with any of them and especially towards the end I felt like pushing both of them off a cliff. Vinay Pathak as Bobby seemed like the only sane character in the film and one hopes if Surinder actually listented to what he said.

The dialogue apart from being bad has an insanely high overdose of “ji” splattered in every line which gets on to your nerves. Among the few redeemable moments are the beautifully filmed songs “Haule Haule” and “Hum Hain Raahi Pyaar Ke”. The prelude to the “Haule Haule” number which keeps appearing in the background is too good. The film is shot extremely well but the small town setting which was supposed to be conveyed doesn’t work because everything you see in the movie is a set piece except for the title sequence and one scene at the Golden Temple.

In RNBDJ, there are some movies which Surinder takes Taani out for. It is tough to find out whether those were meant to be a parody or not because at the end RNBDJ looks exactly like one of them. One more note to Adi: Please stop referencing Dhoom in your movies as if that is some cult flick which needs to be paid a tribute every time. Aditya Chopra was the creative brain behind a lot of much maligned YRF products in the last few years. When you watch his unadulterated crap in the form of RNBDJ you can guess the amount of influence he might have had in those other films.

All said and done, RNBDJ also has a large share of emotionally manipulative moments (the Sumo Wrestling scene tops the list) which should appeal to a sizeable section of the audience – and may end up becoming a money spinner. I actually would have recommended everyone to watch this one because it genuinely qualifies to be a “so bad it’s good” flick but it requires that you invest a huge amount of patience which is totally unwarranted. You might probably want to give this a try for the aforementioned reason when it comes out on TV or DVD.

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.