Thursday, January 22, 2015

Review: Baby

Baybee! You Are Exhaustive And Exhausting!
But Whattay Fake Mooch!

3 stars

Mini Review:

It's a fight between Big Beard and Slim Mooch. Tense, annoying, exhausting, thrilling, fun, interesting, predictable. Beard loses, Mooch wins. And you come out having aged. Horribly. 

Main Review:

It is written. This triumph of the fake Mooch. It boldly goes where many Bollywood movies have gone before, seeking out meaner and meaner bearded terrorists, boldly traversing the known universe of hate at warp-the-audience's-mind speed. You may like it or hate it, but it keeps your attention.

Starship Baby is commanded by Captain Shredded Scotchbrite Slim Mooch, and ably assisted by Hairpiece and Small Beard (and Muscle) while reporting to a 'Head' that is fittingly bald. They all have moochs to remind us what side they are on.

The rule of the movie is clear. Anyone without facial furniture is going to be blown up by a bomb or die horribly. 

They make poor Tawde shave off his mooch so that his death can be explained off to the follicular police! Clean shaven Jamal who should have had a beard dies horribly. So does the color lens wearing slow-moving Bilal (clean shaven again)... 

Everything proceeds according to the Bible of Cliches for Terrorists & Cops Movies:

1. The politicians in a wood paneled office are skeptical about the operations of the Mooch unit. 

2. Big Beard makes anti mooch speeches from a place titled: 'Somewhere in the border area' to his bearded followers. (No, the orange beards are definitely not enthusiastic BJP workers). 

3. The city of Istanbul, Middle East Resort and Kathmandu are shown how far Slim Mooch will travel to find Big Beard.

You only wish, that the movie had been true to its bible and made sure that the annoying wife of Slim Mooch died horribly too. Had the audience been given guns instead of popcorn, at least 25% would have used it to kill her. The rest would have taken away her phone. 

But there is a redeemer for the Mooch troops who have no facial hair. Tapasi Pannu. She keeps your attention rivetted as she beats up a moochless-beardless baddie. 

4. And as is tradition, Slim Mooch will be injured and will bite the bullet like the Rambo that he is. Here Mooch gets stabbed in the hospital and we see blood oozing out of wound. But he's in the Middle East and the doctors possibly don't stitch up the patient by cauterizing wound with alcohol. But Slim Mooch is better than Rambo. He has medical supplies in his travel case. And Ray Bans to mask his pain.

Big Beard loses his facial hair and you are just told that he does horribly in some exotic land called Kashmir. You wonder why they did not kill him in Chennai, but you're distracted by someone sitting next to you texting their girlfriend, 'Killer movie hai!' 

Even though there are cool lines like (maarne ki) 'Aadat hai!', there are totally stupid characters like the Al Dera Cop which makes you want to stab yourself and die.

You know Murali Sharma gets slapped because he has no facial hair. And you also know that on the balcony he stares at Slim Mooch the way he does, because he's hoping the monkey who slaps Akshay Kumar in his moochless movies would appear and oblige him.

But Neeraj Pandey does have a knack of keeping you interested in this cliche ridden convoluted plot even though you check many times to see if your feet got nailed to the ground while you were watching Danny Denzongpa say 'plausible deniability' not once but several times... 

P.S.: For the women in the audience, there's a lad called Ashfaq who competes with Fawad Khan. He's got a beard, but he's really on Mooch's side... 


Review: Dolly Ki Doli

Dolly Different Hai. But Is She 'Good' Different?

1 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

This movie won't make you eat your Jimmy Choos. But it won't make you dance in them either. It's like eating Karachi Halwa or Petha from Agra. You take a bite, but swallowing it is an experience you ...

Main Review:

The story is not bad. Not bad at all. Trouble is you watch the whole movie like you watch your high school reunion group carry on a conversation on Whatsapp. It has a promise, but you read each message with increasing trepidation... Is it another smarmy emoticon ridden message or a joke or an 'inspirational' forward from the past century? You wish you could sign out the moment Malaika Arora shows up for her 'standard' item number, but you do want to know what happens to Mohammad Zeeshan Ayub's love arc in the story.

Seriously, Sonam Kapoor's wardrobe so much, so much better in this movie than in Khoobsurat, and the marketing team should have tied up with bridal magazines who could used this movie as a showcase... But the story wraps up earlier than its really economical 100 minutes and you wish you were like dadi, happy to be stoned.  

And Sonam Kapoor says, 'Jhand' without batting an eyelash, but you're still trying to recover from the implausibility of the 'only one photographer' at Indian weddings...

Again, I liked the 'cool' references to Facebook but could not believe that none of the men would want selfies with their trophy bride to be.  

A Marathi movie 'Premasathi Coming Suunn' released in December 2014 was exactly like this movie, and looking at how it was rated as good, clean fun, I suppose this one is too. But they say 'brapanty' not once, but three times and you know they've run out on jokes.

Some of the alcohol laden dialog of the various suitors is great fun but if you think that the universe of this movie is about those odd men, then Sonam Kapoor stands out like Manhattan in Meerut. 

I apologise for the number of negatives here, and I will be the first to admit that it is change from the damsel in distress roles for heroines we get to see in a movie. But we are not told what drives Sonam and the gang to do what they do. We know why Danny Ocean wants to rob the casino. We know why the bride is looking for Bill. But why is this motley bunch does what they do, we are never told. When do they stop? Why do they not stop?

Archana Puran Singh's body language when she wears a caftan is simply outstanding. The cast is decent. But Pulkit Samrat just looks plainly out of place. He's just not Dabanng enough (or comes across as clever enough) to carry that role.

P.S. This review took longer than the movie to write. That's because I've tried hard to like this movie. It is something that's different from the usual Hindi movie fare. Unfortunately, it's like watching a grown up attempt Snapchat...


Thursday, January 15, 2015

Review: The Theory Of Everything

All Hail Eddie!

4 stars

Mini Review:

This is a movie on the life of Stephen Hawking. But truly, there is only one star, and that's Eddie Redmayne. He he shines, and shines. Earns every star this movie earns, no matter who reviews the film.

Main Review:

It helps that the film has been designed so beautifully, and that it is shot during an eternal summer in Cambridge. Also there's that luminous, fragile yet determined Felicity Jones who makes a wonderful foil to Eddie's genius.

But the film remains a showcase for the young man who showed up in Les Miserables and stole a scene or two from Wolverine who was transformed for that movie. And as one is wont to, one followed up online to check out his stage performance as Richard II and as Ken Rothko's fan/assistant in Red. 

Most people might find Stephen Hawking's genius hard to comprehend but Eddie Redmayne makes it accessible. He is no more that intimidating robotic voice you heard in Physics class, drowning you by the colossal weight of the words. You did not see the humor because you were so busy trying to grasp the concepts. In fact, the movie brings out the humanity in someone you thought was leagues away.

Yes, you will want to read more about Hawking (Wired magazine brings some brilliantly written articles about the prof), and that's a good thing too, because his life has truly been miraculous.

The movie is a biopic and most biopics make me slump in the theatre seat with coffee, wishing there was something stronger than caffeine in the cup. But The Theory Of Everything makes you sit up and pay attention. You like this young man who announces that he is going to work on 'Time'. Is it because he is socially awkward? Is it because he has that bright spark in his eye when he tells the girl that 'he's studying to be a cosmologist'

And Eddie Redmayne makes you hurt when he falls down, makes your fingers ache when his do, and when he insists that 'everything is normal' you are frustrated at him.

No one - yes, I confess - no one, has managed to bring out so much emotion from this usually cynical viewer of cinema. And this film works because there are no sides taken, no judgements passed. And the cast performs flawlessly.

I have said too much already. Go book tickets. Watch a fabulous star being born: Eddie Redmayne.

p.s. I've thought and thought if there's any Bollywood actor who could have done justice to this role, and I don't think there's anyone. Not Irrfan not Aamir...


Review: The Imitation Game

Gobsmackingly Engaging!

4 stars

Mini Review: 

If you use any computing device, then set it aside and go back to a wonderful homage to the father of computing: Alan Turing. Marvelously scripted, and even more brilliantly portrayed, this fine film will make you stand up and applaud.

Main Review:

There are movies meant for popcorn and stolen kisses. And then there are movies like The Imitation Game, which keep you engaged from the very first question, 'Do you want to play?'

And then it takes you back to the war. Not the sand filled war Americans seem to be waging with 'savages', but the one that took over world and gave us heroes who worked behind the scenes to save lives.

Or did they?

Did they play God? How did a bunch of gifted crossword puzzle solvers save the world?

The Avengers it is not. There are no spectacular special effects, no larger than life Hulk smashing his way through aliens, nothing. It took crazy cryptographers led by Alan Turing to smash the unbreakable Enigma.

You are frustrated when they are, you laugh with them, and your heart is yanked out and smashed by a sledgehammer when you see how draconian laws treated people. I have not felt so moved in a movie as I did in this one. The father of computing, treated like that?!

But then you want to throw something at the screen, for something else entirely. This movie has Keira Knightley. The weakest link. Now don't get me wrong. She was brilliant in Atonement and even Dangerous Method and Hole. But here, she is just a simpering miss and I couldn't, just couldn't take her seriously. 

There should have been five stars... But they had to choose her... Sigh. 

Review: Paddington

Barely Bearable!

1 star

Mini Review:

If Paddington is a lovable bear that gets into mischief, then there aren't enough funny parts for the kids. And if it is a story of being homeless and around mean people, you'll find kids wailing and clutching you in fear.

Main Review:

When movies meant for kiddies, speak of dead parents and scary orphanages, being homeless, being alone out on your own in the snow and the rain, you should know that the kids in the audience are going to erupt in wails of 'I want to go home!' and 'I want to go to the bathroom'... Embarrassed parents would be shushing and hushing them up with promises of chocolate...

And that is exactly what happened at the preview theater where the movie was screened. It started with a man with a funny mooch (funny according to grown ups, scary for the kids, as he's had a gun and he was hunting bears!), and the kids curled themselves into the seats, not opening their eyes until Paddington was named and accepted by the Browns.

The fun of Paddington in the bathroom was short, and the rest of the story had the kids screaming, 'mommmmmmmyyyyyyyyy'...

For grown ups too, the movie sends out mixed signals: am I supposed to love the concept of a fun life on a Triumph changing into a station wagon life because one is now 'mom'?

When a fun movie distracts you so much, then perhaps it's a failure.

And when I got home, I was terrified to look at my teddy bear. Did the very baaaad lady stuff my huggy bear too? I want my mommmmmm!  

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: American Sniper

Hollywood Ka Dabanng!

one star

Mini Review:

Yet another American in Iraq story. True, but trite. It's almost like every Hollywood hero wants to play soldier (just like Hindi movie stars). Thankfully their shirts don't come off and they don't sing around the minefield...

Main Review: 

For the last few years Hollywood has been going on overdrive feeding us true stories about the 'Ai-raaq' war, painting the enemy as 'savages'. Looks like they've found their Dabanng and Wanted and R. Rajkumar and Singham. Movies like Hurt Locker have even won accolades.

This movie gets Bradley Cooper to bulk up and show up steely eyed and even kill 'savages'. He's a Navy SEAL and a sniper with the highest number of kills to his name. Now that's a real story, and like all dramatised 'true stories', American Sniper pushes all the right buttons. The hero is a star, on the war-front and in his personal life. But how many times have you seen a soldier saving a woman at a bar and then end up marrying her? How many times have you seen a Catholic lad turning soldier for God and Country? How many times have you seen siblings save each other in a war situation? How many times have you seen a soldier talk about 'when I go back I will marry her', or 'when I go back I will go back to the farm of my childhood' and then be the first man who is blown up to bits. The hero of course has promised to help his family...

Predictability aside, the scene where the flag is folded and handed to the widow or the mother of a soldier still makes one's heart well up and tears fall. One is not immune to the scene no matter how many times one has seen it in the movies.

The war scenes have been shot rather well, although you wonder why the drones are used only for surveillance and not to bomb the enemy.

Scenes with little children murderous or not always make me queasy and two in the movie have been placed rather well. They keep your heartbeats at pause and you are forced to participate in the situation. 

At the heels of Unbroken, which is shot beautifully, this movie seems to work only at the heartstrings. Both movies work with cliches even in the villains. Just that the the single minded Syrian sniper Mustapha in this movie wins a star all by himself with his long, curling lashes. But why he's fighting in Iraq, why he turned into a soldier after having been an Olympian gold medalist, why is his family located in the middle of a war... These are questions that are not answered. He's just shows up as a bad guy who kills American soldiers in the head. But such beautiful eyelashes...

Hey! I'm trying to find something good here. It's directed by Clint Eastwood, after all. But then I'd rather you go back to your DVD collection and watch Grand Torino all over again. This war movie is Hollywood's Dabanng.


Friday, January 09, 2015

Review: Tevar

Yet another Zombie film...

One Star

Mini Review:

What could have been a fun small town caper film, turns into this ghastly copycat DabanngSinghamRRajkumarActionJackson filled with zombies.

Main Review:

'We're bunking to see this movie because anything will be better than Pooja ma'am's lecture' chorused the college kids who entered the first day first show (9.15am at PVR ECX) with me. The lady sitting next to me knows someone who produced the movie, 'I'm not diplomatic, so I don't get invited to previews,' she said.

Aah, well. I just might save you readers from bad cinema, I think, and I begin to fill the seat like Col. Nathan Jessop standing tall on the borders...

Not bad, I think. Hero saves the day with Kabaddi. Even though Vrajesh Hirjee is a friend and he has written and sung this Kabaddi anthem for us, I am clueless about the game. So I sort of like the hero who plays Kabaddi (despite the thigh slapping!).  

Niiice, I say, when I meet Pinki in the movie. I think she is going to be like Dee Dee (cartoon Dexter's annoying sister) or like Candace (Phineas's sister from Phineas and Ferb) ... 

Alas. the movie does not let the idea of 'Pintu Bhaag Gaya' blossom at all. I wanted to know why Pintu ran, where does he go to when he runs, how could he be kept confined to a room when his sister expects him to answer the phone which was downstairs.

But I realised that I had been temporarily blinded by Pinki and I should have remembered that this was a Hindi film after all. And not just any film, but a zombie film. Half the star awarded to this film goes to Pinki. And the second half to whoever thought up a great character quirk, a character picks out peas from her food and puts it aside. Unfortunately, this brilliant character quirk has been given to Sonakshi Sinha, who is in her zombie role.

Uff! What is this 'zombie', 'zombie' thing?

Let me explain. Zombies are supposed to be brainless. So are films like these. Zombies wander the streets, hungry for human flesh/brains. Films like these sorely need brains too. Zombies do only what zombies do. This movie too is full of stock characters and situations that go through the motions as zombies do.

As Col. Nathan Jessop whose job is to stand guard at the borders of cinema and protect you from bad movies, I have made a little checklist of zombie things and zombie people. If you find more than five in any movie this year, stay away from it:


1. Small Town in the cow belt.
2. Politicians or relatives of politicians in the cow belt town
3. Good Policeman, bad policemen
4. Damsel in Distress played by Sonakshi Sinha
5. Extras running with swords
6. Extras traveling in SUVs
7. Extras who are called 'Kakdi', 'Toap', 'Burbak', 'Pehelwaan' and so on
8. Anyone wearing a gamchha (the red and white chequered scarf)
9. Anyone saying, 'Phonwa', 'Dekh Lenge', 'Thakur, 'Bhaisaab', 'Katta'
10. Ganga Aarti performed by pandit who sports big mooch
11. Bad guy as played by Manoj Bajpai.
12. Any characters called 'Bhaiyyaji', 'Bahubali', 'Bhowji', 'launda'
13. Deepti Naval wrapped in shawl playing mother
14. Holi, Mela, Not-so-giant wheels, candy floss, mithai ki dukaan, 
15. Songs with words like, 'Saiyyan', 'Pardes', 'Radhe', 'Sawan', sung Shubha Mudgal style
16. Fight Scene where villain gets slapped by hero and loses his hearing
17. Hero's horizontally challenged friend with funny name
18. Hero's over-sexed friend (so we suffer dialog like, 'Chhat par Chhed kyon kar rahe ho!')
19. Hero's joblessness
20. Someone taking credit for 'background score'

And why drag a zombie through mud and blood? Pointless last hour. Filled with cliches of fight during Holi, Rain, Small alleys...  

You know the director has an eye for detail when the camera catches picture of Krishna and Radha on the wall when they're running in the rain, how the overhead hanging light shines on the two when they're hiding from the baddies (in the rain) and so on... No matter how nice the touches are (loved how Sonakshi hides behind a door that has a chain lock), the movie begins to put your brains through a cheese grater.

Yes, what could have been a fun caper when Pintu runs away again and again, turned out to something so bad, I came out feeling rather numb



Thursday, January 08, 2015

Review: Taken 3

Quite Taken In...

1 star

Mini Review:

Watching a movie to review when you're smitten by the lead character is a daft thing to do. But despite being wholly predictable, the movie makes you want to know how the hero will win...

Main Review:

Ever since Liam Neeson picked up the phone and spoke his mind, one has been smitten by the swift vengeance he wreaks upon the men who kidnapped his daughter. Not since 
John McLane met Hans Gruber at the Nakatome Towers during the holidays had we rooted so much for the hero.

But that was the original movie. The sequel (Taken 2) took us to Istanbul and as most sequels make you feel, you wanted to ask, 'whyyyyyy?'

So I entered the preview theater with fingers, eyes and toes crossed. Having read Pete Bradshaw's review had not helped...

But when the lights dimmed and I saw Liam Neeson buy a giant stuffed Panda for his daughter's birthday, I forgot everything else.

I will be the first one to admit that it is wholly predictable. The car chases, the guns and the bullets and the baddies falling like nine pins... You've seen it before. And I'm usually the first one to groan out loud. And then you wish Luc Besson had seen this wholly unrelated but appropriate poster.

A tired sequel is a pain to watch. But there's something so honest about the character of Bryan Mills that you are willing to give him a chance to beat up the baddies and save his family, one more time (Or have something other than the ghastly PK play the theatres).

Honestly, you could watch Liam Neeson assure his daughter, 'It's going to be okay.' on TV. and save your arteries from the multiplex samosa. But I like his vulnerability as a father and the assured violence as a protector on the big screen.

Doesn't help, eh?

Well, as they ask a reviewer, again and again, 'Kitne star diye?' before they book their tickets, my suggestion is to look at the stars in the movie. There is but one. He's Liam Neeson. And he's far easier on the eye than the goggle-eyed alien staring at you from the billboards.

One part of me hopes there won't be any more sequels of Taken. But there is that grandpappy role Liam Neeson would be just perfect for...


Saturday, December 27, 2014

review: UGLY

Ugly at heart

4 stars

Mini Review:

Only Anurag Kashyap can show us that the milk of human kindness has long dried up. This film will shake you up, creep you out, and disturb your beliefs social niceties.

Main Review:

There are movies like 'It's a wonderful life' and then there are movies like Ugly. It's weird how Anurag Kashyap's movie about the seamier side of humanity releases when the social media is overrun with Secret Santa, Season Of Giving, Holiday Cheer, NORAD tracks Santa, and other emoticon riddled 'events'. 

The last time I was disturbed by unexplained evil was a movie called The Grey, where a pack of wolves systematically track and tear apart people trekking through the snow. Not even Liam Neeson is spared. The evil in the eyes of those wolves may not be seen in the eyes of the characters in Ugly, but you know it is present, because you are afraid to see who is sitting behind you in the theater.

Even in The Grey, you know that the people are good and the animals are evil. Anurag Kashyap simply deletes the people, and shows us wolves. They skulk in the wings, hide behind their uniforms or stereotypes, they stalk, and then they jump at you, bared fangs, fur and claws.

Every character is fleshed out that way. The evil in some is hidden and it surfaces when you least expect it. Watch out for a dialog that simply states, '65 lakhs'. Anurag Kashyap manages to bomb this Bollywood bastion called 'Maa' forever.

The cop Jadhav (played by Girish Kulkarni), is so good, you want to slap him, stab him with the nearest blunt object repeatedly, and even throw a frustrated shoe at the screen. And that hasn't happened ever since Pran first kicked Ramu Kaka with his hessian boots and used his 'hunter' on hapless villagers.

Chaitanya, (played by Vineet Kumar Singh) is that friend you wish you never had. I wanted to help him meet his maker long before it happens on screen. 

Imagine an audience who is used to Hum Saath Saath Hain suddenly wanting to end a friendship violently? Imagine an audience used to a fare of extra loud 'dhishum-dhishum' when the hero beats up baddies, being treated to real life sound of stone tearing flesh, smashing bone and blood.

There are many glitches in the story, and you know the director is waffling when a scene is set at a bar, there's a botched robbery scene and so on, but you don't mind the contrived turn the movie is taking. I did wonder about the forced intrusion of the computer experts and the supposed policemen being posted to keep a watch on suspects. Had they done their jobs, the culprits would have been found much earlier...

Even so, when the movie ends, you find your legs a little unsteady and your head pounding. You make your way to the nearest dive and hope alcohol will numb your ears to the sounds of wolves tearing away at human kindness.


Review: UGLY

४ सितारे

अनुराग कश्यप के पात्र सचमुच UGLY हैं. डर यह है की उनमे से आप भी एक हो सकते हैं.

क्या आप फ़ेसबुक पर दोस्तों की 'विश यू वर हियर' टाइप की हॉलिडे फोटो देख कर अपने कंप्यूटर को बिल्डिंग की सबसे ऊपरी मंज़िल से ज़मीन पर पटक देने की सोचते हैं?

क्या आपको स्माइली फेसस और 'आई हार्ट यू' टाइप के ईमोटीकानो से चिढ़ है? और जो लोग इनका इस्तेमाल करते हैं उनका आपने अपने मन में कई बार पत्थर से मार मार कर सर फोड़ दिया है?

क्या आप समझते हैं की इन्वेस्टिगेशन डिस्कवरी चॅनेल किसी भी चॅनेल से बेहतर है?

क्या आप फिल्में दिमाग़ को घर रख कर देखने के आदि है?

क्या आपने कभी प्याज़ को ध्यान से देखा है?

बॉस! बाकी प्रश्न तो समझ में आ गये. यह प्याज़ वाला प्रश्न कुछ समझा नही.

तब आप Ugly  ज़रूर देखें.

हर प्रश्न का उत्तर अगर 'हाँ' है, तो आपको यह फिल्म ज़रूर पसंद आएगी. क्योंकि सब लोग फ़ेसबुक पर 'हाउ क्यूट', 'सो नाइस' करने में लगे हैं, और आप हैं की सोशियल मीडीया पर फूँक फूँक कर कॉमेंट करते हैं. (याद है, स्कूल वाली फ्रेंड को पति के साथ देख कर आपने कॉमेंट किया था, 'वॉट ए लव्ली फादर-डॉटर पिक्चर'). और लोगों की फ़ितरत से अच्छी तरह से वाकिफ़ हैं. आपको  इस फिल्म के बारे में बताने की ज़रूरत ही नही. गॅरेंटी है की आपको यह फिल्म पसंद आएगी.

अगर आप अब भी मेरे प्याज़ वाले सवाल पर अटके पड़े हैं, तो सुनिए. 

अनुराग कश्यप ने ऐसे पात्रों को इकट्ठा किया है जो प्याज़ की तरह हैं. मानो वो फिल्म नही, प्याज़ का सूप बना रहे हों.

हर पात्र प्याज़ की तरह परतों वाला है. जैसे जैसे अनुराग कश्यप की छुरी उनपर से एक परत निकाल देती है, वैसे वैसे नयी, रसभरी परत आपके सामने आ जाती है. प्याज़ के छिलने से जैसे आपके आँखों से आँसू निकल पड़ते हैं, वोही आँसू आप थियेटर के अंधेरे में महसूस करते हैं. नैराश्य के आँसू. आप तो हीरो और विलेन वाली फ़िल्मो के आदि हैं, ना? जब हीरो विलेन में बदल जाता है, और विलेन में आपको अच्छाई नज़र आने लगती है, तब आपके पास दाँत पीस कर फिल्म आगे देखने के अलावा कोई चारा नही रह जाता. आप जाधव, राहुल, डिटेक्षन साहेब की बात भी समझते हैं, और दूसरी तरफ शालिनी और राखी को भी. आपको कभी राहुल कपूर पर शक होता है, कभी उसके दोस्त चैतन्य पर. 

इस प्याज़ के सूप से आपको बदहज़मी होगी ज़रूर. लेकिन इस सूप से आम बकवास फिल्मों से मन उठ जाएगा.      

मैं दावे के साथ कह सकती हूँ की इस साल रिलीज़ हुई फिल्मों में बस क्वीन और अब अग्ली में ही ऐसे पात्र हैं, जो आपको वास्तविक लगते हैं.  और इतने वास्तविक की हर पात्र के हर परत के उतरते ही भुनी हुए चमडी की बदबू मानो सारे थियेटर में फैल जाती हो. आप पॉपकॉर्न खरीद तो लाए थे, लेकिन जलती हुई सभ्यता की परत की बू आपको पॉपकॉर्न खाने नही देती. आप कोल्ड ड्रिंक ले तो आए हैं, लेकिन 'खोई हुई बच्ची ने क्या कुछ खाया है? क्या कुछ पिया है?' ऐसे सवाल आपको स्ट्रॉ से सुड़कने से रोक देती है. 

आख़िर इतने पात्रो से लगाव क्यों? इतनी समवेदना कैसे? आप ना पुलिसवाले हैं, ना आप कभी किसी बच्चे को अगुआ करने वाले. और यही तो खूबी है इस फिल्म की. ऐसा झींझोड़ कर रख देगी यह फिल्म, आप बाहर निकल कर पास वाले बार में संतुलन ढूंडने घुस जाएँगे.

इतनी तारीफ? क्यों नही? गटर के पानी से सनी हुई मैली सडकों पर गिरे हुए डीज़ल में इंद्रधनुषी रंग देख सकना भी एक कला है. और अनुराग कश्यप ऐसी स्याह रंग बड़ी खूबी से अपनी फिल्मों में भरते हैं. 

हाँ, जब बेरहमी हद पार कर देती है तो आप पूछने पर मजबूर हो जाते है, की क्या यह ज़रूरी था? बार में बंदूके खरीदना बहुत ही कन्ट्राइव्ड लगता है. फिल्म अपने ही स्याह रंग में ऐसा डूबती है की कहानी की कमियों को अनदेखा किया ऐसे लगता है. जिस पुलिसवाले को संदिग्ध पात्र पर नज़र रखने को कहा था, वो कर क्या रहा था? अगर उसने अपना काम किया होता तो पूरी फिल्म एक घंटे में ख़त्म हो गयी होती. और इतने कंप्यूटर एक्सपर्ट्स अगर पुलिसवालों के पास हैं, तो उनका काम इतना फीका क्यों? कंप्यूटर का आई. पी. अड्रेस ढूंडने के लिए इतने कंप्यूटर ज़प्त करने की ज़रूरत नही होती. दिखने में अच्छा तो दिखता है, बस कहानी को कमज़ोर कर देता है. 

इन सबके बावजूद यह फिल्म (क्वीन के बाद) साल की सबसे बेहतरीन फिल्म साबित होगी. अगले साल आप फिर अपने दिमाग़ को सुस्ताने दें. लेकिन इस फिल्म को देखें ज़रूर.

आख़िरी विचार:
कहते हैं क्रिस्मस का त्योहार खुशियों का है. खुशियों के मौके पर इस फिल्म को रिलीज़ कर अनुराग कश्यप ने यह साबित कर दिया है की वो भी फ़ेसबुक पर दोस्तों की 'आई हार्ट यू किटन्स' वाली पोस्ट्स देख कर उल्टिया कर दिया करते हैं. 



Friday, December 19, 2014

review: PK

ET (please go home!) mash up with OMG!

2 Stars

Mini Review:

You like Rajkumar Hirani? Watch Munnabhai again. This is a tiring, plodding, annoying version of ET mashed up with the brilliantly written OMG. Why would anyone want to sit through 153 minutes of overcooked ideas?

Main Review:

So it's Rajkumar Hirani. And no one will deny superior touches in the movie: A bomb has gone off and when someone kicks the two-in-one PK carries with him most of the time, the song, 'Aasma pe hai khuda, aur zami pe hum' comes on. That moment earns this movie its one star.

The second star is earned by a moment - and only a director like Hirani could have thought it up -  when the sardarji gives his wife that 100 rupee note to give to the waiter at the five star hotel. 

In the scheme of the movie, these two moments are not important. But you suddenly discover empathy for the characters, the scene, and that is fully paisa vasool.

The rest of the movie?

PK lands naked and comic music plays (Terminator did that hundred years ago! And you still smile when anyone wears RayBans like Arnie did)
PK chased by mobs of every religion with comic music playing.
PK chased by men because he tried to hold hands with their wives with comic music playing.
PK eating paan (the red juices coloring his lips) with comic music playing.
PK calling the prostitute 'sister' because he missed downloading that bit of information. No comic music plays here, but she snores.
PK mentioning 'dancing cars' and showing us what they are at least 4 times in the movie accompanied by comical creaking and orgasmic sounds.
PK speaking Bhojpuri. Supposed to be comic? Must be, because his language makes people laugh. 
PK goggling eyes. Almost always accompanied by song with words like 'Tharki Mehmaan'
PK asking 'innocent', 'endearing', questions like, 'Bhagwan ki battery change karni hai kya?' accompanied by comic twangs of music. Almost always showing people rolling their eyes at him and sniggering too.

If you've had enough of PK, then hear me complain about the screenplay that is so repetitive, each time PK asks religion ka thappa dikhao, you want to ask, 'Is script par approval ka thappa kisne lagaya?'

I agree that we love Rajkumar Hirani so much, that we are willing to forgive him this movie. We call it 'brave', 'audacious questions asked' and so on... 

I wish I had not seen OMG! the movie, where Paresh Rawal makes every argument against practiced religion and the godmen with so much more logic, so much precision, that this better budgeted movie looks flawed. 

You cared for ET and his need to phone home. You cared for the little kids who love him. You remember the m&ms the kids lure him with. You adored how little Drew Barrymore dresses him up like a girl. Here, no matter how much he cries and wobbles his lip, you just want to him to go home. You grit your teeth when you see PK in a woman's skirt (you don't ask how he knew that the skirt was meant to be worn in the lower half and the coat on the upper, you are just so bored). It's not cute.

You want to ask the writers, 'Have you not visited churches where Mother Mary statues are draped in sarees, and coconuts are offered to her?' But I drowned that logic in coffee and exasperation when the 'God' sticker joke is repeated. 

You have seen so many alien movies, you are just grateful that they do not show mini PKs emerging from teapots and desk drawers at Anushka's home because he danced with her. Aliens love to procreate,too, our movies tell us (When the title: 'One Year Later' is shown on the screen, that was my biggest fear).

Cheating Godmen is a theme as old as the hills (remember Jaadugar?), so this looks boring in comparison. Even Nirmal Baba sponsored shows on TV are more fun to watch...

I'm disappointed by the horrendous mash up. I refuse to believe that directors don't watch films by other filmmakers so that their craft remains pure. Somebody must have watched OMG? ET? 

I came away saying 'Ouch' because now there's hole in my heroes gallery where Rajkumar Hirani once stayed.


Thursday, December 04, 2014

Review: Exodus: Gods And Kings

Ridley Scott Attempts Manmohan Desai. Fails.

2 stars

Mini Review: 

The screen is larger than life, the effects are grand. But everything else is so boringly predictable, you wish they had restored and re-released the original. 

Main Review:

Remember Manmohan Desai's Parvarish, where a policeman raises the child of a dreaded dacoit? Or those 'friendship thicker than blood' movies? Movies about 'brothers from different mothers'? Namakharam? Can you imagine Ramesses and Moses singing, 'Salamat rahe dostana hamara' on chariots after winning the battle against the Hittites?

No? Then imagine being held captive by a sword-wielding Shahnaz Hussain of the Kohl, Kurls and Kaftan fame for three hours in the Dhurries and Handwoven Furnishings section inside a Fab India store... She has confiscated all hair conditioner (explains the rough stiff hair everyone in the movie sports... Imagine being told that she'll let you go only if you wear the dhurries and furnishings as dresses... Imagine Joel Edgarton emoting anger and love wearing sheer curtain fabrics as kaftans... 

But... But... It has Batman! Alas. This is the most tedious telling of the Ten Commandments story. Batman is rich when he's not 'Batman'. Here Moses loses his moolah, no? So why should Bale bhaiyya act? His Moses is lazy. He hides behind his beard and spouts boring dialog. No crackling thunderbolts chisel the edicts. Moses sits down with hammer and chisel while his people party! No wonder he is grumpy.

And just like Manmohan Desai used child actors in Suhaag and Parvarish, here too God is shown to be a child (Looks as evil as though he appeared straight out of the Stephen King's cornfields). And instead of saying, 'Jaao pehle us aadmi ka sign leke aao...' he just unleashes frogs and giant crocs and superbly magnified locusts. And flies. 

It's not that I didn't like the version at all. There were a few good things that earned stars for the movie. Like the evil child god who is really an unhappy chai boy, even though he doesn't explain why he waited for 400 years to do something about his chosen people. 

And the introduction of the idea of TED talk in Egypt. Why else would there be some guy explaining new phenomena to the Pharoah?

The Kohl. I know surma is used by men. But men in skirts wearing kohl must have been a progressive lot...

I loved, loved, loved the scene with Joel Edgarton and the snakes. I don't care if they were not real. They were creepily good.

The 3D as in most movies is pointless. But the movie is a big bore. Serves some American agenda which reads like, 'We're on your side, Israel. We'll show people how you were tortured, so the world will give this movie four stars and forget what you are doing to the Palestinians...

See... you are falling asleep already. We almost did as well. Because you learn nothing new with this film. The scale of the film is certainly grand, but there's no fun dialog that you heard in the original ten commandments. Remember Nefreteri telling Moses that she will be his footstool if he became king of Egypt? And how Moses replies, 'The man stupid enough to use you as a footstool would not be wise enough to rule Egypt!' Alas, there is no Anne Baxter who pouts at Charlton Heston saying, 'O Moses, Moses! Why of all men did I fall in love with a prince of fools?'

This version may look grand because of the IMAX screen and 3D, but it lacks the grandeur of the original. Edgarton despite his muscles is no Yul Brynner, and Christian Bale is not a patch on Charlton Heston.

Even Bollywood fails when it attempts to tell stories which Manmohan Desai did so effortlessly. Maybe De Mille and Desai were Gods, and Ridley is merely a king...


Review: Action Jackson

Hey Prabhu! Hey Dheva! 
Dhatteri Bozo Se Cinema Ka Khoon!

Minus 5 Stars

Mini Review:

Kamaal R Khan, Sajid Khan deserve an apology. Deshdrohi and Humshakals are better films. 

Main Review: 

Never thought anyone would say it, did you? I'm saying it. Deshdrohi had a story. Humshakals had the world's lamest jokes, but you laughed at a couple of them.

Here, Prabhu Dheva wants you to believe it is funny that the heroine is blessed with good luck when she sees the hero's genitalia. That's why she pursues him so she can see him in the flesh again. In case you think that is not hilarious, then they will repeat it in animation. 

By the way, you have already been rendered deaf by the loud music, and established the IQ of the film, let us proceed to destroy cinema. With Samurai swords.

And why not? Audience has never seen Kill Bill. Sab chalega. 

Neither has Ajay Devgn. Warna he would have insisted on wearing yellow track pant suit na?
(Bechara! Each time he posed with his Dhat-teri Bozo sword and emoted hatred and anger, he wasn't told that the stills of that pose would be used to make Chinese troops encroaching our borders retreat and roll back down the Himalayas laughing.)

Plus, North ki audience has never heard of Rajnikanth, right?

Neither has Ajay Devgn. So it's okkkkayy to cheat and borrow the 'super star' music and have him say 'En vazhi, tani vazi' in English. With little change also. 'Highway' instead of 'unique'. Rajni sar is romba sweet, so we will have Ajay Clueless Devgn to even raise finger like Padaiyappa.

And audience? North of the Vindhyas wali audience, sar! Dialog sunte hee pippal will throw money at screen sar! Guarantee. Producer bhi khush, and audience gets ever orgasmic vamp.

Poor Manasvi Mamgai. Narration must have stopped for her when she heard, 'You're a hot babe from London who wears leather pants and smokes. And in and interviews with Rajeev Masand and Anupama Chopra you will be able to say, 'The role demanded it, so I shaved my hair.' Wow. 

She's hot all right, but no one told her she will sound like Darth Vader struggling with an orgasm instead of sexy. Aiyyo! Shiva, Shiva! No associating 'sexy' with Prabhu Dheva. He is making family entertainer! 

Okkay! So borrow a soundtrack from Vikram Bhatt's paranormal movies that has chudails laughing. No one has done it before! Not for Nadira. Not for Bindu. Wow. Awesummm!

Call the villain 'Xavier' because the dialog writer's third cousin from Thrissur did not get admission in that college sar!

College is called 'St. Xavier's', no? Remove the state transport from name and also 'S' at the end. That way, you will keep Catholics happy. 

Wow, sar! You are really prabhu. Like Sivaji Ganesan's son, sar!

Call Sonakshi. She can play bubbly and sweet lou interest. She has done that many times before.

But sar, we already signed Yami Gautam.

No worries. We'll make Ajay Devgn double role. Homage to Hema Malini. Seetha Aur Geetha. But with a twist. We will make Geetha and Geetha. 

Wow! You are so awsummm!

And give me color! Lots of color! So no one will notice that Sunny Deol can dyance better than Ajay Devgn. We'll add lots of dyance numbers. Have some Punjabi fellow help write fun song about Punjabis where we put Dandiya as well. So all North Indians will be happy. 

What news of Quentin Tarantino? 

Quentin's people in talks with Yash Raj. He's making Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge.        

Send someone to Medwakkam High Road in Adambakkam, and find sickle maker Senthil and get him to make... Sorry sar, in North, union rules, sar... Okkay get local. And with CG we make Shivaji talvaar look like Hattori Hanzo.

Dhat-teri! That Simple-a. Also add one dyance by you during credits to make sure audience stays to clap. Super hit it will be, sar. 

At least they got this right. The entire audience hits their foreheads in despair. Even Singham fans. 

PS. Now that cinema is dead, you are invited to bring your Kill Bill DVDs so that we can once and for all, in a mass ceremony break them like bangles in Hindi films.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 1

Abala Naari Jennifer NirupaRoy Lawrence

one star

Mini Review:

The trailer shows you ALL the action there is in the movie. The movie is tears, tears, and more tears. It's awful to see Jennifer Lawrence cry, 'Mera Peeta Aayega. Jaroor Aayega!'

Main Review:

Every time Jennifer Nirupa Roy Lawrence cried for her 'Peeta! Peeta!' my stomach rumbled for Falafel.

Why was I distracted?

One. There was very little action in this movie, we only saw aftermath of the action. Never did one imagine that one wished to see an entire district being firebombed. You were shown a townsquare full of skulls and bones. You are shown more rubble than buildings coming down. No. Wait. There's a chance to take on the Capitol's army. And you hold your breath. At last, some action. But noooooooo! Tactics say wait. No point telling them we are armed. Hide...You hunger for action. And there is none.

Two. The clothes. The clothes. I understood why Effie Trinket complains about it too. Revolution is bad for fashion. Everyone wears military green shapeless jumpsuits. Revolution always means boring clothes. At least Expendables and Van Damme movies make up for lack of clothes by lots of action. But as I said, there's no action here. And the fact that Jennifer wears the Hawkeye costume doesn't help.

Three. The tears. So many tears, Jennifer Lawrence sounds more all the Bollywood moms and Sati Savitris rolled into one. Remember Madhuri Dixit bawling over Jackie Shroff, refusing to believe he died in the fire? Or Hema Malini's 'Jab Tak Hai Jaan... Main Naachoongi!' Jennifer allowing herself to be the mascot of the revolution felt exactly like that! Each time she steeled herself for Peeta, you can hear Hindi dialog loop in the background, 'Naari Apni Suhaag Ki Raksha Ke Liye Durga Ban Sakti Hai!' Alas. There is no Durga-Kali type action.

Four. I broke my choodiyaan on the deewar with this one (white folk will facepalm and bang their head on the walls). The sheer predictability of the events. It's frustrating to know that the stupid sister and her cat could endanger lives. Of course, they are going to be missing when the warning sirens blare and everyone is scrambling to escape to safety. I wish Jennifer had given the daft sister Kaan Ke Neeche for endangering lives. I wish Stephen King had stepped in as director and introduced us to Vampire cat (she fed on the barbecued flesh of those people firebombed, remember?) who feasts on everyone in the gigantic bunkers. I'm not even getting into how predictable the raid of the tribute centre is. The vampire cat is so much of a better idea. The movie would have been less of a yawnfest.

Five. Yes. You'll feel Nirupa Roy regaining eyesight at the Sai Baba temple is better plotted than Peeta is brainwashed crap. And watching Jennifer Lawrence in a Fab India kurta and lyrca churidar (aka her hospital outfit) is hardly going to make young men buy tickets to this movie. Also you will be so numbed, you'll not want to know (or care) how peasants who had nothing to eat and were being supervised by Stormtroopers managed to build so deep into the Earth. Where did their food come from. Who manufactured their ghastly jumpsuits, Whatevs!

Again. This is a yawnfest. They have tried to milk the hunger games cow, and mocked at our collective intelligence. Wait for the final film. Here, you don't even want to say, 'Ro Mat Jenny, Sab Kuch Theek Ho Jaayega!'

Review: Penguins Of Madagascar

Skipper, Kowalski, Rico and Private RULE!

3 stars

Mini Review:

It's a kiddies film with grown up lines. While the kids enjoy the mad, practically impossible on-screen action, the grown ups will guffaw at the maddest writing and visual gags that keep getting sillier and funnier. These are 91 minutes well-spent!

Main Review:

Come on! Admit that you could not deal with the friendship forever thing with the lion and the zebra and that inter species love thing between the hippo and the giraffe by the third film. I was. And I loved, loved, loved the penguins who were crazy and clever and yes, crazy and clever...

So do the people who gave the penguins a standalone movie. And what a great decision that is!

So 'Smile and wave, boys. Just smile and wave!'

It starts out like a Herzog crew 'filming under difficult conditions' and snowballs out of Antarctica to New York and travels frenetically everywhere from Brazil to Venice to Shanghai and more.

It rains puns, of course, but there are cinematic tropes that will keep you chuckling. Everything from sticking together as a team, to the James Bondish Medusa Ray aimed at helpless creatures to gut feelings, the writing is great fun: 

'Always listen to your gut!' 
'Sorry Skipper! That's anatomically impossible'

The politically incorrect reference to The North Wind is also reduced to 'No one breaks wind!'

Yes, yes! The lines are silly. But when you can imagine Penguins being in 'an observation mode' you can laugh at Private the penguin wearing a mermaid costume...

The villains, the rival team, the putting others before self could have been mawkish, but it's penguins we are talking about! They have surplus cuteness!

No. More. Spoilers.

Go watch the film. If you are embarrassed of being the lone grown up in a supposedly kiddie flick, rent a kid from the neighbor or a relative and walk into the theatre, head held high. But watch the film. Buy a penguin plushy to cuddle. 

Then smile and wave. Smile and wave.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Review: Happy Ending

RomCom That Starts Happy, Ends Blah

2 and 1/2 stars

Mini Review:

Everyone wants to be Hugh Grant. Saif Ali Khan comes close. This close but the filmmakers want it to be a satire too, and that's where it fails. But it's way better than some of the romantic comedies thrown our way.

Main Review:

So Saif wants is almost Hugh Grant. And this movie has its moments too. But in its desperate need to 'not be a rom-com' because 'guys' wrote it and it was meant to be 'satirical', it falls flat. 

As a Rom-Com, it works because there is cool role reversal. And Saif does a pretty good job as a Runaway Bride. The fact that we have seen many, many movies about the writer's block and how the crusty writer falls in love with someone who simply breezes into his life, clueless about love does not matter as long as it is put in a different, more relatable setting. 

Hugh Grant himself falls for his lyricist in Music And Lyrics. He also does the Casanova thing and falls for lemme-have-a-quick-romp-and-leave Andie Mac Dowell in Four Weddings And A Funeral. So this movie has a tried and tested Rom-Com thing. It's just that it is not romantic enough for us to suddenly believe Saif changing his ways. 

If it is a satire, the movie needed to be much smarter than it is. The inner 'Yogi' (what a terrific character created! Sometimes Slob, sometimes SriSri!) needed to play a bigger part. 

Govinda - so awesome - is on a roll! Had there been more to him we could have had an enjoyable trip (a sharper, smarter version of Main Khiladi Tu Anadi).

The supporting cast is immensely likeable. Ranvir Shorey as Saif's best friend has some of the funniest lines and his comic timing is good.

Preity Zinta's character has been carelessly created. A hot ex girlfriend who is teen bachhon ki maa could have been so much fun, but we see her drinking chai. Blah!

Kalki Koechlin gets the best role. But we've seen that before too (reminded me of Seinfeld's girl with that annoying laugh).

Also, I loved the way it does not try too hard to speak Hindi. The urban English and Hindi mix works just fine.

Just saying that 'it's a satire on the process of writing cinema' doesn't wash. Had there been no subtitles, the writers would have perhaps given us a better romance. This is so in-between two things, sometimes it's a yawn or a groan.

I like romances, I do. And everyone loves satire. But this one tries so hard it sort of falls flat. Neither is it an honest to god romance, nor is it a satire. And you do wonder how Saif and Ranvir disable the tracking software on the phone when they believe breaking the laptop is the only way to delete a video from the computer...

Having cringed at things like that, the movie was still an immensely enjoyable watch. 

(One star for SriSri Saif, One for Govinda and the half for the supporting cast) 

Review: Dumb And Dumber To

So clever this movie!

3 stars

Mini Review:

Farrelly Brothers are cleverer than you think. This time Harry and Lloyd are reunited for a road trip that subtly spoofs everything from TED talks to the army to beloved movie tropes without ever shouting 'spoof'! You might not laugh out loud, but you will chuckle and grin through the movie!

Main Review:

That Jim Carrey is a genius, everyone knows. That Jeff Daniels can stand his own when pitched with Jim Carrey is truly awesome. And the two together take us through everything we thought was dear to us at the movies. No! Let me correct that. They bulldoze through (unwittingly, or so you're made to feel) so many things we know and love: cinema tropes, family values, our ideas on love and tragedy and still manage to surprise us every time they 'push bush'. 

This time Harry and Lloyd take a road trip to seek out Harry's daughter... And we trip on fireworks, tattoos, trains...

The comic timing is impeccable, although you do want to turn away from the sight of Jim Carrey swallowing the sausage, or guffaw cautiously when Harry discovers that he's adopted, or what Harry's cat does to the birds...

The Farrelly brothers poke at every holy cow that bleeding heart Americans hold dear. They are equally mean to people with physical disabilities as well as...

I remember hating the original. Maybe I need to watch it again to appreciate the humor that has made this a top grosser in the US. You better watch the movie and let me know that I'm right in saying, 'After watching this movie, you will not be able to post a smiley without chuckling...'