jump to navigation

Delhi-6 February 23, 2009

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

The experience of watching Delhi-6 goes something like this – Imagine that Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra promised to take you on a trip to the moon. This wonderful trip through space seems to be going fine and when you finally see yourself approaching the destination, he jettisons you off into outer space (the advantage in this case being that you can actually come back home). Now no matter how much you want to curse him for throwing you off you still cannot discount the unforgettable journey till that point. That for you is Delhi-6 condensed in a few lines – the must-watch disappointing flick of the year.

The film for most part is a satirical black comedy centered around the family and friends of an NRI Roshan (Abhishek Bachchan), who agrees to accompany her dying grandmother (Waheeda Rehman) to Delhi where she wants to live with her kith and kin until her final moment. This extended circle of family and friends incidentally turns out to be one amazing ensemble of a supporting cast who bring the streets of Delhi alive. The main premise makes use of the (in)famous “Monkey-man” (Kala Bandar) series of incidents which occurred about 6 years back. You realize as the film progresses that the use of this peg is mainly to take a dig at communalism but meanwhile there are a lot of other issues touched upon with a mix of playful reverence and biting satire like religious beliefs/rituals, casteism, oppressive families etc. with a dash of the usual NRI-finding-his-roots thread. The multiple sub-plots reminded me of last year’s Welcome To Sajjanpur but they are completely different and commendable in their own way.

What seems to have gone terribly wrong is the communalism thread – which is so hackneyed, preachy and completely out of line with the tone of the film. Still, when the film seems to be getting back on track towards the climax you are given another bitter (or rather bizarre) pill to swallow. No wonder it is receiving brickbats from all corners. Apart from Mehra another person to shoulder the blame has to be Abhishek Bachchan. On one hand he should be commended for accepting a role which is little more than a narrator where the only thing expected of him is just to “be there”. Now whoever gave him the idea of using that irritating fake accent – the worst part being he uses that only when conversing with characters who don’t seem to understand English otherwise he absolutely has no issues mouthing heavy duty dialogues in shuddh Hindi. Apart from pissing you off this only seems to make his character appear so disinterested in what is happening around him. If it weren’t for that wonderfully filmed song – with Times Square juxtaposed on Delhi’s crowded streets; his character’s existence in the film would be completely unjustified.

You might say these are small details but these stand out more so because the rest of the cast is flawless to the core. I can only mention the people whose names I know – Waheeda Rehman (my favorite onscreen mom anytime), Rishi Kapoor (whose true “second innings” finally seems to have kickstarted this year), Sonam Kapoor (a similar giggly role like Saawariya which nevertheless suits her so well), Vijay Raaz, Pawan Malhotra, Om Puri, Divya Dutta, Atul Kulkarni, Tanvi Azmi and the ones who play Rajjo Bhabhi and Rama Bua.

The cinematography (Binod Pradhan) and artwork (Samir Chanda) are top notch and there is a fine balance between the use of real locations and set-pieces. If the cast and crew make Delhi come alive then to top it all is the man of the moment A.R Rahman who arguably delivers one of his best scores ever and to his fortune he has a director who knows how to use it to maximum effect.

As the end credits rolled with the mesmerising “Arziyan” track I was feeling so exhilarated yet equally sad – for having seen a film which rises to magnificent heights yet screws up so badly in the last lap. But I strongly recommend every lover of cinema to still check out Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s brutally flawed masterpiece for it has too many great things about it which you’d struggle to find in any so called “good” film you generally come across.

Advertisements

Dev D February 13, 2009

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

During the first few minutes of Dev D we are treated to the first conversation between the grown up Dev and Paro – She says she can’t bear it anymore while Dev retorts back sheepishly – Do you touch yourself??? This is the moment exactly when all your notions about Dev D being little more than “Devdas moved to a more contemporary setting” are shattered.

Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D is more precisely “Devdas turned upside down”. Anurag’s Dev, Paro and Chanda are basically screwed up right from the word go – therefore their subsequent descent into debauchery isn’t really that surprising. That doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting – quite the opposite; after all who wouldn’t want to watch dissolute people indulge in lewd stuff! The director also doesn’t expect you to empathise with any of the characters. Aside from its advertised plot “inspiration” from Devdas, this could have been any contemporary flick about a bad urban heartbreak.

I especially liked the way Anurag references real life scandals like the DPS MMS and the BMW hit-and-run case. They blend so well into the story unlike other films which use such gimmicky stuff only to attract eyeballs. What ultimately works big time for Dev D is its musical format. The team of music director Amit Trivedi, lyricist Amitabh Bhattacharya and Anurag Kashyap collaborated for the first time in last year’s Aamir – which apart from being a great film had probably the best in-film soundtrack in recent times. With Dev D, Trivedi triumphs once again with a heady mix of numbers brought alive wonderfully on the screen by Anurag and team. It truly is an intoxicating experience. The icing on the cake of course is the outrageously funny “Emosanal Attyachar” number sung by Bandmasters Rangila and Rasila and performed on screen by “Patna Ke Elvis”. Check out the moment in that song when as Paro dances without abandon on her wedding, the Prelseys blurt out “Bol…Bol…Why did you ditch me whoooore?”.

The cast is equally triumphant as the technicians. Abhay Deol as usual effortlessly slips into his role and is completely natural as ever. His co-stars Mahie Gill and Kalki Koechlin also deserve high praise for their respective portrayals. Dev D is another maverick piece of cinema from Anurag Kashyap which contrary to everyone’s expectation is actually an unusual musical – definitely not to me missed.

There is a “Special Thanks” to Danny Boyle at the beginning of the movie – I thought if it was about the use of music inspired from the film everyone loves to rave or rant about, but like Anurag confirmed in a recent interview it had to do with certain camerawork tips.

Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! November 30, 2008

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

After the wonderful Khosla Ka Ghosla in 2006, director Dibakar Banerjee returns with Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!. Revolving around the life of a thief – supposed to be inspired from a real life character called “Bunty”, OLLO traces the story of Lucky (Abhay Deol) who effortlessly steals cars, usual stuff from rich homes and um…pretty much everything actually. We catch glimpses of his not-so-happy childhood barring his teenage love, his never ending exploits as a thief – involving his sidekick Bangali (Manu Rishi), forced Godfather Goga Bhai (Paresh Rawal) and new-found love Sonal (Neetu Chandra). There are two more Paresh Rawals who Lucky has to deal with elsewhere in the film.

This film is more like a semi-biopic of Lucky and in this regard I think the promos were a bit misleading in suggesting it to be somewhat a comic thriller. Though it isn’t one there is enough happening so that you never get bored at any point of time. Like his previous film OLLO relies mostly on its colorful characters and understated humor – in fact the humor here is far more subtle and that’s the reason it takes some time before the film starts growing on you. On the flipside, I thought the social satire aspect didn’t work too well. Also, the ease with which Lucky robs stuff seems too far-fetched. A couple of instances are funny and believable but then it is suggested that he is successful umpteen times using a similar bunch of tricks.

There’s a scene here about handling a watch-dog which apart from being quite informative was a genuine ROFL moment I’ve had in a long time. Also, check out that equally funny scene when Paresh Rawal is trying to hit Lucky and in the background Lucky’s little brother gets into the mood with some hilarious air-moves. The film has a strong Punjabi flavor accentuated by a jarring musical score but thankfully it doesn’t creep too much into the dialogue; otherwise I surely would have missed some of the humor.

Abhay Deol adds another impressive film to his already super-impressive filmography. As usual he is a complete natural and absolutely at ease with his character. In the film, it might be hard to believe his robberies but there’s no wonder why his victims and even the police seemed to love him. Though it’s high time he got his due in mainstream cinema, I’d still love to see him continue doing what he’s been at till now. Neetu Chandra is wonderful yet again. I was quite impressed by her in Traffic Signal and Godavari; and once again she puts up an extremely convincing act. Her’s is quite a short role but it’s one of the very few instances in films where you get to see in a very believable way how a girl is attracted to someone when commonsense should suggest otherwise. Paresh Rawal and Archana Puran Singh are the only other known faces and they are quite good too. I couldn’t get the significance of having Paresh in three different roles – maybe it was supposed to mean that each was an unpleasant father-figure in different phases of Lucky’s life.

There’s a big list of highly impressive debutants here. Topping the list is the greeting card shop girl (I couldn’t figure out her name). Manjot Singh who plays Lucky in his teens is also too good. Ditto for Manu Rishi (as Lucky’s sidekick) and Dolly Chadda. Dibakar Banerjee doesn’t try to make OLLO a crowd pleaser like Khosla Ka Ghosla. Though it is more flawed it is actually a much smarter film than the latter. If it’s something you like then there’s also a Johnny Gaddaar like homage to vintage slapped all over it. I think I missed a few things in the film on first viewing, so would definitely be catching it once again after a few months on TV or DVD. Go and watch OLLO with an open mind – it’s a nice addition to the list of genuinely hatke films we’ve had this year.

Fashion November 2, 2008

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

The best thing about Madhur Bhandarkar’s films is that as long as you don’t belong to the group of people he is caricaturing – it is a no-holds-barred guilty pleasure trip for the viewer who gets to see folks on high pedestals being brought down mercilessly. Bhandarkar has successfully used this formula in each of his three previous films (Page 3, Corporate and Traffic Signal). This time his focus is the “Fashion Industry” which no doubt provides ample material (probably more than all of this previous films combined) which Bhandarkar is an expert at handling. And yes…he leaves no stone unturned as he throws light on the troubled souls, depraved lifestyles and what not! The director also could only sneak only at most a couple of gay characters in each of his previous films but it’s a dream come true for him and except for Arbaaz Khan (who plays the head honcho of a leading Fashion firm), every designer (without exception) is a homo.

Fashion traces the story of a highly ambitious girl Meghna (Priyanka Chopra) from Chandigarh, who against the wishes of her dad (Raj Babbar) comes to Mumbai with the dream of becoming a supermodel. As expected she finds out everything isn’t so rosy but still the whirlwind success she has goes to her head until everything comes down falling like a pack of cards.Through her journey we also witness the lives and troubles of other people she comes in contact with.

The biggest USP of Fashion is that a lot of real life incidents/people where it takes inspiration from – is the stuff which makes TRPs on news channels hit the roof. No wonder it is all the more interesting when you see it unfold on the big screen. And before you get all too enthused let me warn you there is a big BUT – I still find it hard to digest how the director absolutely loses track about what he wants to convey through the film. A litte comparison with his other films would do good here. Each one (Page 3, Corporate and Traffic Signal – to an extent) involves the journey of the protagonist through a certain industry/lifestyle who ends up completely disillusioned/victimized while the industry/lifestyle in question is laid threadbare. The way these films end was the most appealing part to me (but I know lot of people who aren’t comfy with abrupt, inconclusive and bleak endings).

At the beginning of Fashion you see that Meghna’s father is opposed to her being a model (which we assume is for the usual reasons) but when she ruins herself and comes back home the same guy is now encouraging her to not lose hope, take up the profession again and “fight back”. Almost all through the movie you see the Fashion Industry being ridiculed but the moral of the story at the end seems to be – as long as you don’t take success to your head everything is pretty much fine here – talk about U-turns! Even if you cannot ignore this hard-to-ignore fact Fashion still has Bhandarkar’s masala-realism stamped all over it and except for the somewhat prolonged penultimate portions it keeps you entertained.

There’s a huge cast (with known and unknown faces) but it’s the ladies who rule the roost. Priyanka gets a powerful author-backed role and she does full justice to it. Definitely should be the first choice of this year’s awards simply going by the screen time alloted to the protagonist. Kangana was born to play Shonali. I cannot imagine anyone who can come close to her with a role like this. There are a few sequences where even Priyanka gets to do a similar act – compare her and Kangana and you’ll know what I am talking about. Debutant Mughda Godse is very impressive. Given this is a Madhur Bhandarkar film – the over-the-top gay portrayals are expected and shouldn’t be a reason to cringe. The short background piece (Salim-Sulaiman) which keeps playing throughout is nice.

I must admit I thoroughly enjoyed watching this flick even though at the end I came out with a strong tinge of disappointment at the back of my head. Keeping this aspect in mind, go watch Fashion and I promise you won’t regret it.

Welcome to Sajjanpur October 8, 2008

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

Owing to lack of creativity on my side, I am lifting a few lines from an older post on this blog to describe this film. “A small minority of films manage to put a smile on my face from beginning to end. When I say smile, it isn’t due to the funny events on screen but due to the sheer joy that I experience from everything put out on the screen. This is one such film.” Welcome to Sajjanpur is the kind of film which is so hard to write about because you can’t really slot it into a genre. Call it a simple comedy or a social satire or an engaging drama….it works on every level. Maybe films of this kind have been made in the past but none which I’ve seen.

Mahadev (Shreyas Talpade) is the only literate guy (more accurately..the only one who can actually write stuff) in Sajjanpur who aims to be a novelist but has to settle for being a letter-writer. Due to the uniqueness of his profession everyone in the village has got to use his services at one time or the other. The myriad letters he composes include complaints to the district collector, appeals for money from relatives, missing father search requests, love letters (of course!) and probably the most ingenious of them all – farmer generated spam mail. Short vignettes of the people’s lives who he comes in touch with and how he inadvertently (or otherwise) gets involved forms the crux of the movie. For Mahadev however, most important of them all is Kamala (Amrita Rao) – a childhood sweetheart now married and dying to correspond with her husband who is out in the city for work since the last four years. Mahadev senses an opportunity for some subtle manipulation to get closer to her.

Filled with ample humor and tongue-in-cheek references to social issues all and sundry; Sajjanpur is a treat to watch. I’ve noticed at few places the music of the film receiving much flak but I fail to understand why. Shantanu Moitra’s tunes blend so well with the film and I had absolutely no problem with it. Shreyas Talpade absolutely rocks. As the letter-writer with a troubled conscience when seeing injustice happen or the clever trickster when it comes to his love; his is a character you’ll simply adore. Shyam Benegal’s genius is most apparent in the fact the he made Amrita Rao shine in a role like that. Given the stuff she has done before, this really is a giant leap. The supporting cast is also wonderful – Yashpal Sharma, Ila Arun, Divya Dutta, Daya Shankar Pandey and Ravi Jhankal to name a few.

Shyam Benegal’s previous mainstream ventures in the last ten years or so like Zubeida and Bose didn’t justify his reputation but with Sajjanpur he is back and how! Welcome to Sajjanpur is a film which defines the phrase “wholesome entertainment”. It’s a pity if you miss this!

A Wednesday ! October 7, 2008

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

For once, one can claim rightfully that Bollywood had delivered a true edge-of-the-seat thriller. And that’s good enough reason not to miss this one. It all happens on a Wednesday as Police Commissioner Prakash Rathod (Anupam Kher) sets out to handle the toughest case in his life. An unknown caller (Naseeruddin Shah) demands the release of 4 “terrorists” and in return promises to reveal the location of multiple bombs he has planted in different parts of the city. A few incidents later Commissioner Rathod realises that the guy isn’t joking and moreover that getting hold of him isn’t as simple as he might have thought. That’s pretty much of the plot one can reveal without spoiling the experience of people intending to watch it.

A Wednesday is a very well-intentioned film. It has a point to make and does it very well. But in the process it makes quite a few simplistic assumptions about important issues. If you really think – you’ll end up asking a lot of questions for which the film has no convincing answers. One needs to keep that in mind before watching this for the film’s intelligence is in its execution rather than content. This film never relies on snazzy editing techniques or any other visual paraphernalia to generate the thrills. It simply shows that all you need is a crisp screenplay devoid of unnecessary scenes to hold your audience’s attention.

Naseeruddin Shah is expectedly brilliant. His portrayal is so convincing that many questions which would otherwise have been raised about his character simply vanish when he is in charge of the proceedings. Anupam Kher is apt as the Police Commissioner. It’s actually Jimmy Sheirgill’s turn as the volatile tough-as-nails encounter specialist which impressed me the most. Probably the first time I’ve seen him in such an avatar. Let’s hope this gets him more mainstream roles.

This is the second film of this year (after “Aamir”) helmed by a deubtant (Neeraj Pandey) which has opened to rave reviews. And fortunately, unlike the other one it has performed pretty well at the box office – quite an encouraging sign. Whatever loopholes you might find with A Wednesday are only after you are done watching it. The almost breathless two hours as the film unfolds won’t give you a chance to do anything else than remain glued to the screen.