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Love Aaj Kal August 10, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When a film turns out to be a rather unexpected blockbuster it could be that it really was that good or it was just able to to successfully tap into the sensibilites of a large segment of moviegoers. For me, Love Aaj Kal clearly fell into the latter category. Imtiaz Ali’s first two films (Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met) weren’t exactly super-hits during their release but today they are considered to be standout films in what is a worn-out genre.

Love Aaj Kal at its core relies on that crappy Hollywood romcom formula about two people breaking up and taking up the entire duration of the film to realize that they “truly love” each other. In this flick, there is an additional parallel story running in an earlier era where “true love” truly was true. This clever narrative does make the proceedings a lot more interesting but looking back it seems like a substitute for lack of content. There is no doubt that Imtiaz Ali has brilliant writing and directing skills this film too is no exception. His previous films were undoubtedly a lot more fun and had characters you could identify with. I might have enjoyed this film more if the “fun” part overshadowed everything else but it seemed to take itself too seriously which is the biggest complaint I have against this one. Even if it did not appeal to me, I must accept that sitting through this wasn’t a bad experience at all.

Saif is wonderful in both the roles he plays. He is probably a bit too old for a part like this – however you forget about this aspect when you watch him perform. Deepika seems to be a pretty bad choice. There is absolutely nothing wrong with her emoting but her dialogue delivery is always so bland that if you were to listen to her closing your eyes – it  sounds like a sonorous speech where the emphasis is on just getting the pronunciation of every word right. Rishi Kapoor gets another nice supporting role in what seems to be his real comeback year. The much kept-under-wraps Giselli Monteiro is cute but that’s about it. Rahul Khanna is unimpressive in a short supporting role. The visuals are beautiful (the period pieces specially) and add a lot to the film. Pritam’s score fits in nicely though there aren’t any great numbers to watch out for.

If you are a sucker for romcoms in general then you can’t ask for anything better than Love Aaj Kal – for the rest it’s just a pleasant but unmemorable film. Imtiaz Ali might not have picked the right film to make but his solid effort nevertheless shows – I am still eager to know what he makes next.

Milk February 23, 2009

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man to be elected to any public office, as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. Milk is the story of his life, his triumph, his activism and his unfortunate death.

Written by Dustin Lance Black and directed by Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting, Finding Forrester, Paranoid Park), Milk is an affecting, moving film. The period and the gay rights movement are captured very well and the audience can sympathize with the problems of being openly gay during the period.

But this is ultimately the story of one man and Sean Penn portrays him brilliantly. I have witnessed a few of Penn’s performances before this one, but here he is a completely different person and you only see Harvey Milk after a while. The film also features admirable supporting turns from Josh Brolin (W, American Gangster), James Franco (Spider-Man 3, Pineapple Express) and Emile Hirsch (Speed Racer).

Apart from his political life, the film also tracks his personal life and relationships. This helps the audience relate to Milk as an ordinary person as opposed to a hero. It also helps the straight folks in the audience who do not have gay friends and do not understand how their lives function to find them to be just like everyone else.

Milk has a great story to tell and features a knockout performance from Sean Penn. It captures an important period in history of the gay rights movement and the fundamental problem of fighting for your rights has universal appeal. Watch it if the idea of a docudrama based on a real life personality appeals to you.