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Halla Bol January 17, 2008

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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Angry Protagonists + Old Fashioned social drama + strong screenplay + hard hitting dialogue – that’s roughly the formula Rajkumar Santoshi used in the nineties for his films like Ghayal, Ghatak, Damini and China Gate. Somehow after that he never has been able to recreate the magic of those earlier films. If there is one reason to watch Halla Bol it has to be to see Santoshi return to form doing what he does best.

There have been too many criticisms labelled at this film….as being too outdated, preachy, melodramatic etc. To a certain extent it seems justified only because in recent times the theme of public apathy has been brought on screen/highlighted in the media quite a few times. Yet this is a very honest effort on a very relevant theme. An unscrupulous superstar Sameer Khan/Ashfaque (Ajay Devgan) is a witness to a murder at a high profile party. However, he denies seeing anything there (and so do the other celebs present there). However, his conscience hits him hard when he reminisces his past – his conscience-keepers being his guru Siddhu (Pankaj Kapur) and his wife Sneha (Vidya Balan). Now against all odds Sameer then has to bring the killers to justice.

There are so many direct and indirect references to real events and people – a straightforward invitation for controversy; no wonder I read a couple of days back an article about a friction between Devgan and the Khans. Maybe during the sequence mocking film stars doing ads, Devgan could have been more sportive by not excluding products which are endorsed by him. If this film would have worked at the box-office you sure would have got to read more gossip.

The film abounds in “punch” dialogues combined with whistle-worthy moments and this is precisely what makes one feel that Santoshi is back in form. Despite it’s box office performance, Ajay Devgan should be more than happy for he has delivered yet another fine performance and which should hopefully make people forget Cash and Ramgopal Varma ki Aag. Pankaj Kapur gets a meaty role in a mainstream film after a long time and he is brilliant as usual. Vidya Balan and Darshan Zariwala have nice supporting roles too. The few songs (Sukhwinder Singh) are well placed in the movie and are of short duration enough not to slow the pace of the film.

On the whole Halla Bol is a very commendable piece of work which I enjoyed watching….the reason for its failure is mostly because theme isn’t novel enough and the fact that Santoshi’s style of film-making (old school but powerful) may not appeal today to a large proportion of the audience.

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Bhool Bhulaiyaa October 29, 2007

Posted by Shujath in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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First a bit of history for those who don’t know. Originally made by Fazil in Malayalam as Manichitrathazu, which was then remade in Kannada by P. Vasu as Apthamithra (still considered to be the biggest hit in Kannada cinema) who again remade it in Tamil/Telugu with Rajnikanth as Chandramukhi. Vasu was supposed to remake it again in Hindi with Amitabh Bachchan but Priyan finally ended up doing it.

If you have seen any of these movies previously then Bhool Bhulaiyya hasn’t anything more nor less to offer. Otherwise it’s a pretty interesting watch provided you don’t end up scrutinizing it for loopholes. A haunted mansion in some village scares everyone living around that place for it is supposed to be inhabited by the ghost of a court dancer who’s waiting to avenge the death of her lover by killing the king who happened to cause all her misery. Certain sightings by a few villagers and a few unexplained happenings strengthen the legend. Now arrives the new “king” Siddharth (Shiney Ahuja) with her new wife Avni (Vidya Balan). Avni, despite opposition from Siddharth’s family wants to stay in the mansion and even ventures out into the exact place where the ghost seems to reside. Again, a new slew of incidents begin to bother everyone around with the suspicion centred on Radha (Amisha Patel) – for she has to mend a broken heart owing to Siddharth’s unannounced marriage. In comes Siddharth’s friend and psychiatrist Aditya (Akshay Kumar) who finally solves the puzzle.

The best part of this film (or the other remakes) is that it tries to be lighthearted while taking the plot along which makes sure that people don’t end up analyzing it too much. Though the efforts to make you laugh by Priyan’s usual suspects fall flat most of the times the arrival of Askhay Kumar brings in the required relief. Akshay has been doing similar stuff for the past 2-3 years but I personally felt this to be his best in recent times. He really holds the whole film together. Vidya Balan is repetitive. She seems to be doing those same textbook “performance oriented” roles on her to way to becoming a big bore like Rani Mukherji. Her performance in the climactic portions will definitely not be remembered (and endlessly parodied) like those in the south indian versions (Jyothika, Soundarya, Shobana). Amisha Patel thankfully doesn’t have to act except for a couple of scenes which is good for the film. Shiney Ahuja seems to have been given a part written for Suniel Shetty.

The unprecedentedly popular and catchy “Hare Krishna Hare Ram” (Pritam) song which appears in the end credits has now been incorporated into the movie again before Akshay’s entry. The other song which is pleasing is “Allah Hafiz”. Priyadarshan’s comic capers have not been faring too well in the recent past and his attempts to make you laugh here┬ádon’t work much either┬ábut an engaging “psychological thriller” plot more than makes up for it. You can definitely watch this.

Heyy Babyy September 12, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews.
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This film deals with the life of three bachelors who seem to have no other job except to bed one woman after another. Their life suddenly changes when a baby girl is left at their doorstep with a claim that one of them is their father. They spend their time taking care of the kid and end up losing their jobs/money. They decide to abandon the child. A near-death experience for the baby brings about a change in them and they start developing a strong bond with her. At this point, the mother takes back her child. Now the guys try everything they can to get the child back. Will the baby help unite their parents?

Akshay Kumar and Ritesh Deshmukh do fine as expected but Fardeen Khan, who I used to consider a bad actor, seems to have improved over time at least as far as comedy goes. Vidya Balan, who has made an impression with all her previous roles, doesn’t come up trumps this time. The baby is cute but has little else to do except being herself. There are a host of guest appearances from a ton of actresses who are trying to make it in the industry. And good friend Shahrukh throws in a special appearance. Composers Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy deliver a first-rate soundtrack that includes foot-tapping numbers like Hey Baby and Jaane Bhi De as well as the lilting Meri Duniya. These certainly add to the film.

Like sister Farah Khan and brother-in-law Shirish Kunder, well known anchor Sajid Khan too jumps onto the directorial bandwagon (he did direct an episode in the Ram Gopal Varma production Darna Zaroori Hai earlier). Though it has the ingredients to be a box office hit, this isn’t a good film by any stretch of imagination. Going by his efforts in television, one had hoped for a much better film from Sajid Khan but he disappoints.

The first half of this film is filled with mostly childish humor. It does bring about a few smiles but largely it didn’t work for me. The emotional aspect did not make an impression on me either. However, there was an improvement in the second half of the film and it did make me laugh. Overall, this is only an average film that is not to be taken seriously and could appeal to those who have enjoyed recent comedies like Partner very much.

As I see it, this is an eighties film with a stylistic upgrade. The writing by Sajid is amateurish and anyone whose seen a lot of hindi movies can predict what is going to happen next. Most of the emotions are conveyed through dialogue and not really developed or felt. Such a lack of subtext is a clear indication of poor writing and direction. I had expected a much better film from Sajid Khan but he makes the kind of films that he has criticized in the past (maybe a little less over-the-top). Give me Shirish Kunder or Farah Khan anyday. Shirish Kunder’s superior grip on technical aspects was clearly on display in Jaan-e-mann while Farah Khan succeeded in her aim of making a masala seventies style film that walked the tightrope between laughing at itself and making the audience laugh. I liked the episode directed by Sajid in Darna Zaroori Hai but this film is a disappointment. This film has an audience but I am not a part of that audience and I hope Sajid makes a better film next time.

Lastly, a note to Sajid: “You may like the great Hrishikesh Mukherjee and might have been acquainted with him but please Sajid, stop using his name in reference to this film”.

Guru (Gurukanth) January 17, 2007

Posted by Sai in Hindi, Movies, Reviews, Tamil, Telugu.
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21 comments

Being inspired from real-life incidents (Bombay, Kannathil Muthamittal/Amrutha) and characters (Iruvar/Iddaru, Nayagan/Nayakudu) isn’t new for writer-director Mani Ratnam. Despite what he says, his latest film is definitely inspired by the life of Dhirubhai Ambani. Though Mani makes sure that this is an inaccurate biopic, it includes characters (including the journalist played by R. Madhavan, as my Dad pointed out) and incidents reminiscent of the life of the Polyester Prince. The film spins an interesting yarn on the astonishing rise of a common man to a position of great importance, focusing on his moral dilemmas as well as the social, political and legal repercussions of his actions. This is an engaging film that is pretty good but I would think twice before calling it great. The reason it falls short of being great is that it tends to get cinematic at times when realism would have kept me much happier.

That Mani Ratnam’s screenplay and direction are superb, goes without saying. I greatly enjoyed the conflicting relationships between Guru and Nanaji and their respective families. The one issue that I had though is with the songs. The Ek Lo Ek Muft song felt unnecessary and I would have liked it if the Tere Bina song wasn’t shot as it was. The rest of the songs are used to forward the story or used in the background. Though the well-shot Barso Re number seems repetitive for Mani, Aishwarya’s bicycle accident necessitated this song and hence that can be overlooked.

Another important factor in the effect of this film is the dialogue by Vijay Krishna Acharya (who also provided the dialogue for Pyaar Ke Side Effects and wrote the screenplay along with dialogue for Dhoom and Dhoom 2). Mani Ratnam being a Tamilian with relatively low capability of understanding Hindi needed someone to accurately translate his vision into words and Vijay does a very good job (though sometimes one feels that the dialogue is a bit more dramatic than necessary). Being a period flick, the art direction (Samir Chanda) and costume design (Ameira Punvan, Sai, Nikhar Dhawan, Anu Parthasarathy, Aparna Shah) becomes very important. Mani Ratnam being the master that he is seems to have taken extra care of the detailing. The one thing that is easily visible in the film is the vehicles used for the different periods. I was quite surprised with Aishwarya’s backless blouse in the Barso Re song that seemed out of sync for that period. However, that is just my ignorance. Apparently, women in Gujarat wear such outfits due to the weather and not for sex appeal (source: IndiaFM.com).

Though the film never paints Guru as the nicest human being, some members of the audience seem to think that Mani has shown Guru’s misdemeanors lightly through the somewhat happy climax. This isn’t exactly a children’s storybook to have the most politically correct climax. I would like to ask these people if they have always taken a legally correct path in their lives (and don’t tell me that we break the law only when it seems unreasonable). Most of us have bribed someone or the other at some point in our lives and therefore furthered the rampant corruption in the country. We have committed our share of mistakes and so has Guru (or Dhiru) and as one character in the film points out these are things that we cannot be executed for (yet). The most practical (not to mention realistic) solution is punishment with a hope of reformation and that is what happens in the film. The good part though is that Guru’s tryst with swindling and smuggling does help the shareholders of his company and this is not forgotten.

Abhishek Bachchan, who plays the main protagonist, delivers a stunning performance. If Mani’s last film Yuva provided him the platform to be noticed as an actor, this performance will make sure that he will be remembered as an actor. Aishwarya Rai once again shows that she can deliver a good performance under the guidance of a capable director. Mani brings out the best in the newly engaged couple both in terms of acting and chemistry that seemed to be lacking in their earlier outings together. Apart from these two the film boasts of a splendid supporting cast. Mithun’s national awards (for Best Actor in Mrigaya, Tahader Katha and for Best Supporting actor in Swami Vivekananda) might have been forgotten by the common audience but thankfully filmmakers like Mani haven’t forgotten him and he delivers a performance that does justice to his talent. Madhavan and Vidya Balan, both capable actors, do well in supporting roles. Arya Babbar (Raj Babbar’s son who made his debut in the forgettable flick called Ab Ke Baras) makes an impression in a short role as Aishwarya’s brother.

A.R.Rahman has done some of his best work for Mani Ratnam’s films and he once again comes up with a brilliant soundtrack and background score. Gulzar’s lyrics provide the poetic imagery that makes these songs even better (though I won’t claim to have understood them completely). My favorite numbers are Jaage Hain and Shauk Hai (sung by Soumya Rao, this song is a part of the background score and is expected to be included in the new CDs of Guru alongwith the Gurubhai Aaya Che number that has become synonymous with the film) followed by Aye Hairathe and Maiyya Maiyya. Barso Re and Tere Bina are very good too.

This film is aimed primarily at the intelligentsia. There is a lot of dialogue in the film that is going over the heads of well-educated people. Mani makes no effort to explain things in detail as is the norm in Hindi cinema (and I believe that should be the way to go). Thanks to the multiplex and overseas audience, this movie might do well but its prospects in the interiors are bleak. Those looking for mindless entertainment could watch Dhoom 2 again while the others should try and catch this one.