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Delhi-6 February 23, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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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.

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Tropic Thunder August 16, 2008

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.
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Ben Stiller’s new directorial venture is a fun ride featuring a superb cast. The film is about the botched up shooting of a war movie in Vietnam. The film in this film features a five time Oscar winning method actor who dyes his skin black to play a black man, a fading action hero most famous for a disaster movie double trilogy and a drug addicted star famous for his fart comedy. When the young director of the doomed war movie is threatened by his studio boss for not being able to control the egoistic stars, he decides to put them in the middle of some real action to make his film more natural and things go hilariously wrong.

The film, written by Ben Stiller, Justin Theroux and Etan Cohen (not the Oscar winning Ethan Coen) is pretty much a bunch of satirical/comic scenes woven around this premise, primarily taking aim at Hollywood – from studio executives to agents to actors and directors (and this is the strongpoint of the film). But the actual plot itself, if anyone is interested, is uninteresting. Most of the film is over-the-top fun featuring a lot of big laughs and also a few that fall flat. The film also features some sidesplitting fake trailers (reminded me of Om Shanti Om more than Grindhouse).

The cast has a great time in this film. Robert Downey Jr is a riot and Tom Cruise is a very pleasant surprise (it took me a while to recognize him). Ben Stiller is also quite good and gets a lot of screen time. Jack Black gets overshadowed and I didn’t find the flatulence and drug gags funny. Matthew McConaughey and Nick Nolte are the other recognizable names while more show up in short cameos (watch out for Tobey Maguire in the Satan’s Alley trailer).

Watch this film if you are game for an outlandish R-rated comedy but remember that isn’t about the plot as much as it is about the humor.