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My Name is Khan March 12, 2010

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Along with rom-coms, movies with the backdrop of “terrorism” have in general been on my must-not-watch list – I hate both genres for similar reasons….unbearable cliches to be exact. Though Karan Johar has not lost his knack to entertain his second directorial foray into “serious” cinema slowly and regrettably turns laughable and cringeworthy like his previous flick. MNIK is still a very watchable film purely because of Shah Rukh Khan but his magic too wears out towards the end.

When I saw the first look of the film a couple of months back, the fact that the story and screenplay are credited to a certain Ms. Shibani Bhatija made the alarm bells in my head work overtime. In the past even seasoned film-makers who have handled “terrorism” haven’t moved beyond the stereotypes so it is wrong to expect K Jo-Shibani to do something groundbreaking. Surprisingly, the protagonist’s condition is not used to manipulate the audience and that’s just the one commendable aspect of the film. There are also a few well crafted moments when the film has to say something about discrimination but mostly goes overboard.

Most people have gone way out praising the movie – at least during the time of its release but now that the film has been reduced to a “medium hit” from “blockbuster” you know better. Still, watch MNIK for Khan.

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London Dreams November 6, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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When I was glancing around reviews for this film I came across many people complaining about how this is an awful “rip-off” of Amadeus. Agreed, that the basic characterizations of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan are inspired from the latter film’s protagonists but calling that a remake or a rip-off makes me wonder if they actually have seen that film. Another recurring complaint is about how it fails to match Rock On!! – well…why on earth does one expect it be a Rock-On!! when the makers never promised anything like that.

Anyways, Vipul Shah’s latest directorial venture is a suprisingly effective old-school tale about friendship and jealousy. It doesn’t take much time for anyone to realize that the whole rock-band thing is nothing more than a backdrop to this story. Arjun (Ajay Devgn) – an extremely ambitious guy whose sole aim in life is to perform at Wembley. However, as he comes closer to acheiving his dream his limelight is effortlessly stolen by his carefree childhood friend Mannu (Salman Khan) – who ends up dealing a double blow by wowing the crowds and wooing his girl. Arjun decides to get back at Mannu by bringing him down in everyone’s eyes – albeit he also has guilt pangs for doing the same.

Most of the film is quite breezy and a lot of fun while not deviating much from the main plot but it gets rather inconsistent (and ineffective) when things start getting a bit serious. Yet, one has to applaud Vipul Shah for the mature way in which he handles the last portions of the film (especially if you’ve seen in his last two films how cringeworthy he can get when it comes to melodrama). If London Dreams fails it is only because the writing in the second half (the emotional scenes) does not do justice to the intensity of the actors involved – which is why those portions don’t seem so heartfelt. Shah admitted in an interview about excising a lot of those scenes due to the runtime which answers to an extent why that part didn’t work.

Another thing is probably Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score which has its share of great and not-so-great tunes. This aspect is rather glaring because all the average numbers turn up only in the concerts (with the exception of the wonderful “Khwaab” track which I must say covers most of the failings of the second half).

But it is hard to keep picking flaws when you have the powerful duo of Ajay Devgn and Salman Khan in superb form. Ajay’s grudge in the movie is that everybody loves Salman – it’s no wonder the latter’s role is written keeping that aspect in mind. Whether you love or hate the film, you cannot but be charmed by Salman. The box office still has not been completely kind to him but the superstar has truly begun to shine again. Asin, Rannvijay Singh and Aditya Roy Kapoor are just passable.

For me London Dreams worked completely because I haven’t seen a film in a very long time which had such an authentic “feel-good” vibe about it. It could have been a lot better but given its merits the flaws are very easily forgivable. Go for it…

Wake Up Sid October 16, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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It’s not very often that one gets to see characters portrayed with who you can identify with so closely. It’s another thing that instead of taking your protagonist through uncharted terrain you settle for putting him in the regular triumphant coming-of-age script – and that’s exactly why I felt a bit cheated with Wake Up Sid. That it’s an extremely well made film – there is no doubt; but then it could have been so much more – maybe I was a bit too impressed at the beginning that I forgot this is a product from KJo’s stable.

Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) is exactly the kind of guy who the rest of the “mature” world prods on to “wake up”. But Sid has other plans (or rather lack of them) and finds himself in a spot when after an unsavory incident he is homeless. Not for too long though, for Sid has found his way into newfound friend Aisha’s (Konkona Sen Sharma) apartment. You know the rest – it’s all about Sid waking up – to life and (surprise)….love! Debutant Ayan Mukherji has inherited his mentor’s visual sensibilites and has admirably taken a few taken a few steps forward when it comes to the writing. There are some really wonderful moments in the film – the best one’s being the emotional and confrontational scenes between Sid and his parents. The humor is also quite breezy but the best part is the superb cast.

Ranbir is just too believable as Sid which why you can so closely relate to his character. Konkona, Supriya Pathak, Anupam Kher also deliver praiseworthy performances. There are quite a few new faces like Shikha Talsania, Namit Das, Kainaz Motiwala and Jason Mehta who are very impressive. The funniest moment in the film (though unintentional) comes when you realize that Rahul Khanna gets to play the leading lady’s boss yet again (not to mention that he isn’t going to get her in the end yet again). Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver yet another winning soundtrack which provides the perfect mood for the film. Wake Up Sid is a really nice watch but I do wish its plot was as real as its leading man.

Short Kut – The Con is On July 13, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Lately, Neeraj Vora and Anees Bazmee have been behind some blockbuster not-so-funny comedies but both of them coming together for a film did raise my expectations a little – especially given this was produced by Anil Kapoor. The promos also looked very promising and that’s why I picked this over other recent “blockbusters” like New York and Kambakkht Ishq to watch this week.

Yet again, I seemed to have made a wrong choice. I would atleast have been satisfied if this was in the league of the filmmakers’ previous flicks but that’s expecting too much now. Based on the Malayalam hit Udayananu Tharam, Short Kut has an interesting plot – whose basic core is derived from Sai Paranjpye’s “Katha” with a dose of “Bowfinger” towards the end. Shekhar (Akshaye Khanna) is an assistant director who finally completes his script and aspires to start directing. In comes his long time friend Raju (Arshad Warsi) who by any means wants to become a “star”. Raju believes in shortcuts to achieve anything in life and not surprisingly he ends up stealing Shekhar’s script and is catapulted to success. Shekhar is devastated and begins to lose control over his life but finally he gets a chance to redeem himself by directing a new film. The glitch however is that his film would now have to made with Raju.

Beyond the story, almost everything is Short Kut fails miserably. The most irritating aspect of this movie is the supporting cast; even if the movie were a lot more better it still could not have risen above the din created by those obnoxious characters. Their effect also seemed to have rubbed off on seasoned performers like Akshaye Khanna and Arshad Warsi who look quite tired and have great trouble getting their comic timing in place. Amrita Rao and Chunky Pandey don’t impress much either. In fact, the parts which I found funny in the trailers don’t work at all in the actual film.

Anees Bazmee and Neeraj Vora – who seem to love bombarding the message several times that “Shortcuts do not work” need to do some introspection and figure if they haven’t done the same with their own product. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy’s score doesn’t have any instant chartbusters but for me that was one of the few things which provided some relief in this dreary experience. In line with the film’s message please do refrain from this “Short Kut”.

Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam February 20, 2009

Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu.
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Konchem Ishtam Konchem Kashtam could have been just another feel good family entertainer on the lines of Dil Raju’s uber-successful flicks – with the underlying thread this time being separated parents. This part is built around the usualĀ  boy-meets-girl and boy-trying-to-win-over-girl’s-father stuff. What makes it stand out is however is the effervescent lead pair of Siddharth and Tamannaah who complement each other so well – something you hardly seen in Telugu mainstream cinema.

The film is mostly lighthearted and even if Brahmanandam’s act happens to be the one which doesn’t impress relatively; still watching him in that hilarious “Geethanjali” gag suffices for it. Venu Madhav actually gets a better role as the hero’s sidekick. Prakash Raj, Ramyakrishna and Nazar are fine as usual. Another thing you’ll take home is the music by Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy. It’s a wonderful score and the picturization of the songs is the icing on the cake. The title track is extremely catchy but the one I absolutely loved is the “Subramanyam” number. In terms of pure content there is hardly anything new about this film but the extremely good packaging and other factors combined make it a cool watch.

Apart from the film itself, I was much impressed with the really nice poster campaign – don’t get to see such things too often. Siddharth is in top form though it must be a cakewalk for him to do such roles now. Tamannaah might have a slightly subdued role but she always makes her presence felt – finally an actress who can be given a meaty role to handle and who is not called Genelia. The producer and director go by the names Bujji and Dolly but thankfully their work isn’t as frivolous.

On the whole, KIKK is a fun-filled outing – go for it!

Luck By Chance February 1, 2009

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Debutant writer-director Zoya Akhtar’s Luck By Chance tells us a riveting story of two contrasting individuals and their journey in the Hindi film industry as they follow their dreams in disparate ways. As one might expect, the film uses the eccentricities of movie folks to throw up some laughs. But we get the see the human side of these celebrities, the delicate situations that they are caught in and the lies they have to tell themselves and others. This movie feels very natural and manages to capture a piece of real life.

This film is superbly cast. I wonder why stars were originally considered for the role of the main protagonist because this is really a part for an upcoming actor and Farhan Akhtar (Rock On!) fits the bill perfectly. Together with a remarkable Konkona Sen Sharma, he plays a major part in making this film very believable.

And then you have the supporting cast. When you can get a huge star like Hrithik Roshan to play a supporting part (billed as a special appearance), you must be doing something right (and kudos to him for doing this). I am so terribly fed up of seeing Rishi Kapoor playing father in one dumb film after another. So, it is refreshing to see him in a consequential role. And then, for the first time that I can recall, Sanjay Kapoor impresses (of course, I haven’t seen too many of his films). In his first big scene, he reminds me so much of Anil Kapoor. Dimple Kapadia is super as the erstwhile star who is launching her daughter, while Isha Sharwani who plays the part is quite impressive herself. Juhi Chawla gets a small part but she is always nice to watch.

I really don’t have the patience to talk about the guest appearances ranging from Shahrukh Khan and Aamir Khan to Karan Johar, Manish Malhotra, Anurag Kashyap and hold your breath… Mac Mohan but many of them play useful parts.

Assembling a good cast doesn’t mean much if you can’t use them well and Zoya Akhtar deserves all the credit for writing an admirable script, filming it superbly and getting the right performances.

I recall the tribute by Farah Khan to the film’s technicians at the end credits of Om Shanti Om. Zoya trumps her. She shows us technicians in their natural settings with the very apt Yeh Zindagi Bhi number playing in the background (Shankar Ehsaan Loy deliver a first-rate soundtrack again for Farhan Akhtar). While the film has interesting characters, identifiable moral dilemmas and a lot of humor, wonderful moments like these make it special.

I was not bored for a single moment in this film and despite it being an unconventional non-masala film, I would recommend this to everyone. Go watch it!