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Veedokkade (Ayan) May 4, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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I had seen the promos of the Tamil version during its release a couple of months back and I wasn’t impressed at all – especially with Surya S/o Krishnan still fresh in my mind. However the release of the Telugu version had me excited quite a bit given the glowing reviews and box office success which “Ayan” garnered.

Veedokkade turned out be a mixed bag but still making me wonder why the original ended up being such a huge hit. I found this one to be a better and well-packaged version of the beaten-to-death Telugu action film but apart from that there wasn’t anything to look out for. Director K.V Anand tries to fill in a bit of everything for everyone the result being a product which cannot completely satisfy anyone. Among the everythings the one being talked about most is the action – the much touted “Yamakasi” sequence is the highpoint of the enterprise. Actually, I didn’t know what it was before so for those of you who are wondering about what it might be – well it is the technical name for those awesome foot chase sequences you have seen in the last Bourne and Bond flicks. In this film too it has been wonderfully done and part of the reason I did not like this movie a lot was the result of heightened expectations at the end of this scene.

The most boring parts are the romance (on the brighter side, great to see Tamannaah return to normalcy after Ananda Thandavam) and the surprisingly insipid music by Harris Jayaraj. The background score was quite good nevertheless. This is Surya’s film all the way – from pirating DVDs to smuggling Blood Diamonds, from foot chases in Africa to car chases in Malaysia he seems be having a blast. Prabhu is also impressive in a meaty supporting role. The cinematography is also worthy of mention – especially in the foreign locales.

Veedokkade could have been a smart action flick had K.V Anand concentrated all his energies on the main plot – excising out some of the unnecessary parts would also have achieved that effect to an extent. It still is a pretty good watch provided you do not have lofty expectations.

Duplicity March 28, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Tony Gilroy’s latest directorial venture is a corporate espionage thriller featuring a romantic entanglement between Julia Roberts and Clive Owen. Like his previous film, Michael Clayton, this one is quite complicated too. Little can be divulged about the plot without give away anything or lying. But the title of the film describes the intent of the characters and the film accurately. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Duplicity is “contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially: the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action”.

Gilroy, who co-wrote the Bourne movies, is no stranger to thrillers. The premise is intriguing, the dialogue is solid and the screenplay is gripping. Unlike Bourne or Clayton, this film also has its share of lighter moments. The opening scene at the airport hangar sets the tone for the film and is one that stayed with me after.

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are a treat to watch and the supporting cast is first rate. Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Lady In The Water), in particular, is superb as the unscrupulous CEO who wants to beat his competitor at any cost. Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), in a smaller part, plays his nemesis.

While this film requires you to pay attention and utilize your gray matter, it isn’t the sort of film that makes you ponder. Duplicity is more mainstream than Michael Clayton and should find favor with audiences that enjoy this genre and do not mind a convoluted non-linear narrative.

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.