Posts Tagged ‘film’

HaiderVishal Bhardwaj has clearly earned his place in the Hall of Fame of Indian cinema! I would rate him as one of the most creative filmmakers that we have, and of course, he also is one of our best music composers (to begin with!).

His latest creation, Haider, clearly bears his stamp of class. I have heard people say that this one is Vishal’s best work so far. I would personally not go that far, not because I can pick some other film that deserves that position, but simply because it is a tough call to make. Vishal has made many amazing movies, and Haider does rank amongst bis best works, but I would find it hard to give it a specific number 1 tag.

While the admiration for Vishal Bhardwaj is clear and total, another person that demands an even greater acknowledgement is William Shakespeare!! I have not read much of Shakespeare but of course, recognise his stature! After seeing Haider, I read up a synopsis of Hamlet and realised that Haider was so closely related to the original story. And that is amazing! Haider as a story, is very believable in today’s times, and yet, it’s inspiration was Hamlet, which was written by the Bard of Avon, who lived from 1564 to 1616!! A story written nearly 400 years back, continues to seem relevant in today’s times, is the absolutely mind-boggling fact to appreciate!

VishalbAnd as I now relate to the other works of Shakespeare that Vishal has converted to movies, viz. Omkara and Maqbool, what comes out as a common ground, are the complex characters that he sketched.  Tabu and Irrfan in Maqbool, Ajay Devgan and Saif Ali Khan in Omkara, and Shahid and Tabu here in Haider, play characters with extremely mixed and complex minds, and it is their behaviour that makes the very interesting story-lines.

Salute to the most amazing writer ever, perhaps, William Shakespeare, for writing such timeless beauties!

Having heard and read enough about Haider, I couldn’t wait longer than the morning of the first day of a long weekend, and landed up at a 9-30 am show! And as the canvas opened up, very early, I could sense a similarity with Gulzar’s Maachis, which incidentally was the Bhardwaj’s first major film as a music composer, in 1996.

A society ravaged by terrorism in the names of freedom struggle, the accompanying free hand to the army, and which creates its share of monsters and abuse, the disturbed youth and disturbed life in the region, the helplessness and resigned fates that people feel under the circumstances… all of these were seen in the Punjab of Maachis, and were felt similarly, in the Kashmir of Haider. Gulzar, Vishal and Tabu were the common factors in the two films, as were the snow filled winter mountains!

A67_ssVishal does love to work with his ‘regulars’.

I guess, Shahid Kapoor may do nothing for 3-4 years (or do some inconsequential stuff) before Vishal gives him a great film each time, and he should be happy with that state. After Kaminey, this is the next big one for Shahid with Vishal, and it is indeed, a tremendous, power-packed, central role. Subdued by the character, Shahid needs to bring out a range of emotions, and he does so quite brilliantly.

Tabu is another regular Vishal Bhardwaj favourite, and she is clearly one of the best actors we have. She picks and chooses her films, so we don’t see much of her, and it is always a pleasure to get those rare opportunities of seeing her on screen. Like Maqbool, her character here too is a challenging one, and she is impressive as ever.

While Hamlet apparently had a strong Oedipus complex from the central character, here that aspect is underplayed. But a strong emotional relationship does exist between the two.

Kay Kay Menon is one underrated actor in Bollywood. Over time, across many films, he has shown his acting prowess, and he does so here as well. Shraddha Kapoor also gives a very credible performance, and does look the part of a Kashmiri girl. There are good cameos from Kulbhushan Kharbanda and another Bhardwaj regular, Irrfan Khan.

haider1There are stunning visuals of Kashmir, especially the snow clad mountains and trees, the beautiful foliage. And as the credits conveyed at the end, all of the Kashmir scenes were actually shot in Kashmir, no matter the security issues etc. So we got a chance to see the absolutely fabulous landscapes that Kashmir is about.

Original score from Vishal Bhardwaj had to be good! Specifically, he has brought in tremendous authenticity with sounds and words from the region, which evoke emotions related to the story, even as you hear the songs. Gulzar and Faiz Ahmed Faiz have been credited for the lyrics. Gulzar, of course, had to be there! Vishal’s and Gulzar’s is a strong bond, almost approaching the one that Gulzar shared with R D Burman, maybe..?!

The Bismil song which enacts a scene, so to say, from the story, is quite like the “Janm leke kahi phir woh pahocha wahin..” recap song-scene from Karz. But it is interesting to see that it is not just Vishal Bhardwaj’s way of enacting the story, but that this was part of the original Shakespeare tale!!

And even as you marvel at Hamlet and Shakespeare, and at Vishal Bhardwaj and Shahid Kapoor and Tabu, what is most striking is the reality of life in Kashmir. As a dialogue says, “the entire Kashmir is a jail” or another that urges Haider to go to Aligarh, so as to “experience another India, where there are no day time curfews, and night time closures”. Such has become life in Kashmir, and with it, it has taken a toll of entire generations of people, of trade and tourism, and deprived the world of seeing “Jannat” on the face of earth!! Thank you, Vishal Bhardwaj, for giving us a perspective of all of this..

 

Ram-Leela (and I am not going to bother with the long form name forced on it!) could easily have been christened Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam 2.

Not in the sense of being a sequel, but having a whole lot of similarities – from a tale of romance, from a proud parent who will not allow the daughter to marry someone she loves (including the SAME dialogue, “tum mera garoor ho..”!), from the Saurashtra / Kutch base of the story, the songs and the dances, the colours and the music, the vivid pictorials of the desert, etc. I absolutely loved (continue to do so, in fact) Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, and considering that backdrop, I also liked Ram-Leela, though of course, it was nowhere close to the original HDDCS.

ram-leela_1382954468_540x540

Highlights of the film for me, in 7 points below:

1. The film has the Sanjay Leela Bhansali stamp all over. In fact, you can see it in the credits to begin with. From editing to screenplay, production, direction, and even the music, its Sanjay Leela Bhansali all over. The rich sets, the colourful clothes, folk music and dance, etc. all bear his stamp.. and his class!

2. The story / plot / theme has been done before. SLB gives credit for inspiration to Romeo and Juliet in the titles. That may be the case, but there is again a unique way of presenting the same plot / story, and which SLB does well. In addition to HDDCS, there are shades of Virasat, QSQT among others..

3. My forefathers come from Saurashtra. I have not spent any decent time in Saurashtra, but I am fascinated by the place, and like in HDDCS, SLB brings out the richness of the culture really well. I love the traditional clothing (of men and women), the music (nagara and dhol to the fore), the dances (yes, amazing garbas), the beautiful visuals of the desert stretching out far and wide, the language, the names, etc. All of these tug at my heart, as there are few films that actually focus on Gujarat and Saurashtra and Kutch, to any extent.

4. Supriya Pathak has a brilliant role. She’s clearly an actress who has been grossly under-utilised by industry. After noteworthy supporting roles in films like Bazar, Sarkar, Wake Up Sid and the slapstick comedy, Khichdi (on TV and on the big screen), she’s got a big opportunity here, and plays an extremely strong character of Dhankorba, very competently. (I remember my childhood days, and vacations spent at Balodyan near 5-gardens, run by Supriya’s mama, Dr. Vipin Gandhi, and where, I had the occasion to work with Supriya, on some puppet shows that we did together!).

5. SLB ground his teeth with Vidhu Vinod Chopra, assisting him on films like Parinda and 1942-A Love Story. One thing I’ve admired about Vidhu Vinod Chopra is his ability to get his heroines look their best (for the films he directed). SLB has learnt that well. From Manisha in Khamoshi to Aishwarya and Madhuri and others, SLB excels in bringing out the inner beauty of his heroines. Does so again with Deepika here. And also makes her emote well, and dance really well too!

6. In Ranveer, we have a solid actor, who puts is hard work and dedication to do justice to his character. Had liked him a lot in Band Baaja Baraat, and he was not lacking here as well.

7. I am sure SLB and team would have agonised about the end. And I am not sure if they picked the best option. Like in case of Sholay, the end will continue to be debated for this film as well. As I don’t want to spoil it for those who have not seen it yet, won’t say more here.

In summary, I would say that SLB has made better films in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam (his best), Black and Khamoshi. But would rate Ram-Leela as a good one too, perhaps as his 4th best one. I never like Devdas as a movie that much, though I had enjoyed individual performances there!

At a time when decent movies are rare to come by, I would rate Ram-Leela as one that makes the cut, and would recommend seeing it.

special26**Spoiler Alert: will refer to parts of the film here; if you intend to see it (“if you must”!), then you may like to not read this post!**

I started seeing posts about Special 26 from Friday. About how it’s such a great movie. And there were several, and they still keep coming. And some of those updates made me get to the theatre to see Special 26.

And as I have conveyed elsewhere, I found the movie to be “average”. And then I wonder what made people say that the film was so great?

Here are just some of the issues I have with Special 26:

  • The various capers that the group pulls off. Made to look so simple. Get a few rubber stamps, walk in, and walk out with cash and kind. And do so nearly 50 times, and nobody can sniff them out? Really? So you’d say that this was based on real-life incidents. So be it. You are not making a documentary. You are making a feature film. And so even if the original incident was just this simple (which I very much doubt!), you can still make it look a little more effort, a little more challenge? 
  • When filmmakers make films based on real life, can they not make some changes and make it look more real / interesting / believable? I saw it earlier in English Vinglish, where the Tamilian accented Sridevi had to play a Maharashtrian lady, struggling with her English. Why the hell could she not have been a Tamilian struggling with English? Likewise here. Even assuming that the real incidents by the fake CBI guys few years back were indeed so simply done, they could have added some smarts into the capers here!
  • I’m spoilt on this, perhaps. Viewing crime series like White Collar, Mentalist and others, you realise that planning a crime takes a lot of effort and planning and then you can still get caught. Man, wish it was as simple as Special 26 makes it look!
  • So, what was the reason these guys were doing all these capers? At the end of the film we are told that Akshay Kumar’s character had been rejected for a job with the CBI. First of all, is that motivation enough? Also right through the film, there are no hints that “he is getting back at them for what they did to him”. Nothing in terms of a revenge script or anything. And then, what about the other three? Why were they doing these? What were their motivations?
  • If money was it, why do we not see through the film, what actually happens to the money? For all the large hauls they make, where do those boxes go? The characters seem to go back to their washing clothes or walking through a crowded terrace of sleeping people! No hints of what happens to the money?! No need to tell us, eh?
  • What IS the deal with the guy washing clothes and being nagged by his wife? Or the other character walking through sleeping people on the terrace? Or Manoj Bajpayee asking his wife to put on a dupatta.. what’s with all that randomness? Aise-icch? Chalo theek hai..
  • And what about that large family of Anupam Kher? 8-1/2 kids or something? How was THAT relevant? Really..? And at the end, what HAPPENS to the kids? Do they all scoot off to Sharjah / Dubai? Or they are abandoned for the cops to grill?
  • So they go away out of the country? Permanently? If that is so, fine…
  • As regards the climax, again, it was too convenient, no? Couldn’t the real CBI not put enough people to follow the bus, follow any other vehicle that the team takes? Why are they viewing the hotel only from the top of the terrace with the binoculars and not from a lower level, to see that all of the gang have not boarded the bus?
  • The romantic interlude with Akshay was a waste, of course. But other than that, the film was just a flat, one caper after another. Nothing else. No other story or character development.
  • Since the director is the same one who made A Wednesday, there is certainly a huge drop in the quality of his work, from A Wednesday to Special 26…

Coming back to the title of this post. So with all these issues, it can still be an “okay” film. What is the explanation then, to the rave reviews that some are giving to Special 26?

A hint to the reason was found in one of the Facebook conversations on the subject. Where one wrote that “compared to the crap that we have been seeing, this was so good”!

Ok, that explains it then.

By constantly bringing down the quality, we have pulled our benchmark levels so low, that an average performance starts looking like an Oscar winner.. !

Ok, that must be it..

What do you say??

The biggest motivator for me, to get into the theatre and see Matru ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (yes, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it?) was Vishal Bhardwaj. I have been an unabashed admirer of the man’s work, and have blogged about it in the past.

M_Id_116521_vishal_bhardwajNot that I have liked all of his work, and have even shared my misgivings.

But irrespective of some wins and some losses, overall, I believe that Vishal Bhardwaj is one of the most creative persons in the film industry today. As a composer, as a director and as a producer, he has a fabulous body of work. Maqbool, Omkara, Ishqiya, The Blue Umbrella, Makdee, Kaminey, etc. are films that have left a mark.

Coming from that background, and promising to be something different this time, MKBKM was worth viewing. And while it was indeed very different from most of his previous works, I enjoyed the film thoroughly.

There are some standard Bhardwaj elements in the film – Gulzar (of course!!), Pankaj Kapur (Maqbool, The Blue Umbrella), Shabana Azmi (Makdee), the small town / village based story and accompanying language style including expletives (Ishqiya, Omkara, etc.). I guess some of these are what Bhardwaj identifies well personally (he has small town beginnings, and has an amazing rags-to-riches and accidental discovery story), and thrives in depicting these.

So what does Bhardwaj cook for us in MKBKM?

MKBKL1

Well, a fun and whacky look at a Haryana village where the property becomes attractive to a politician, at the potential cost of the farmers there, and what then becomes, the typical efforts by the good guys to save the day.

The story is not that much, but I just love the outrageousness of it all.

The characters are well developed, even some of the smaller ones. And all deliver well. Imran is impressive. He has a powerful voice and looks sharp. Anushka’s great talent for sure. She can be exuberant as well as sensitive and fits this role well. Shabana Azmi lives her character well. Well, she is too good an actress, and this role does not stretch her much!

But the top honours are definitely reserved for Pankaj Kapur. Given a good role and room, he can deliver an astute performance, and which is what he does here. I guess, he can be compared to his co-brother, Naseeruddin Shah, in terms of that talent (respective wives, Supriya and Ratna are sisters). MKBKM2

The music is good, and the title song at the end, after the movie ends, is a lot of fun, in particular.

Most importantly there is a fun element right through, with strong Haryanvi language, including a liberal dose of expletives! Some may not appreciate the language or the madness that goes around. Which is why I saw the diverse reviews – good and bad – before I went for the movie.

My own verdict is positive, and I would recommend this movie.

What’s your view?

** Spoiler alert ** : There is some mention of the storyline here, and if you do not want to get any such hints, and you do plan to see the film, then you shouldn’t read this blog post!

I have little memory of the old Agneepath. Except for the legendary dialog that spoke, “Vijay Dinanath Chavan.. aaj maut ke saath apna appintment hai.. appintment!”, there is not much else that I remembered of that film.

Yet, the new Agneepath brought back memories of the 1980s, and the angry young man genre that Amitabh lived and thrived on. And while that was good for nostalgia sake, the genre: a) is out of place in today’s age of style and panache, even in thrill, and b) has Amitabh written all over it, whether you like it or not!

That seems to be the movie’s biggest challenge to overcome.

With no decent film releasing in recent times, and with the Hrithik magic, and the Agneepath remake curiosity,  full houses were ensured on the first day, which happened to be a national holiday as well. Whether the initial will convert into reasonable sustenance of a couple of weeks or not, is questionable?

So let’s look at the good parts first.

It is an out and out action film. To the point of saying that it is one of the most violent Hindi films released in recent times. Lots of blood, knives, bullets, punches.. in short, gore. Now, I put this in the good part, and also in the bad, I guess. Good, because as pure action genre, it is power packed. But beyond a point, it gets to be a little much.

Priyanka in her small role, does a good spunky Mumbai chawl, bindaas girl. Like K3G’s Kajol was from Chandni Chowk!

Sanjay Dutt looks a menacing Kancha. Yes, after a long time, a Hindi film has shown a truly villainous look. Compliments to the visualizer of the look.

It is nice to see Rishi Kapoor coming up with a good performances, every now and then. Also good to see him getting nice, meaty roles.

Another old timer, Zarina Wahab is seen on screen after a long time. But her role is miniscule, with not much room to emote!

Katrina Kaif’s Cheekni Chameli had become a hit well before the release of the film. Unlike a lot of other item girls who do not put much energy into their dances, but let the movement of the camera and the glamour of the look (think Deepika in Dum Maro Dum) make it happen for them, one has to grant Katrina full marks for hard work. With a Brit accent, hardly being able to speak decent Hindi, if she has made it to the top today, it is not just because of her looks, but also because of the intense effort she seems to be putting into her work. This song is an example of the same.

My only worry about this song is.. no, my fear in fact.. that this will be played a lot at parties. And I shudder to see socialite women making the moves that Katrina makes in this song. Oh my God!!

Finally, Hrithik is fabulous as an action hero. Quiet, intense, angry.. he brings alive the Amitabh of the 1980s.

So that said, what are the minuses then?

The extreme violence for one. It gets to be too much!

Also that where the storyline is based, is certainly not contemporary, and would not quite qualify as ‘period’. And which is where it hangs in the middle, sort of. We don’t know whether to view it as a ‘now’ story – it isn’t – and whether to view it as historical – which again, it isn’t.

Rauf Lala peddling drugs galore AND doing human flesh trade openly in Mumbai, and the police being aware, but unable to do anything, seemed strange. Unless I have NO idea of what the real Mumbai was / is like?!

Also where the protagonist, the angry man looking for revenge, attempts to get sympathy / understanding from the audience, that he is killing many with his cocaine trade (while he is shown to release the girls from the flesh trade of Rauf Lala) is questionable.

Finally, the way I see it, for a movie that has anger as an undertone throughout, the anger itself is not very visible. The storyline is not developed that well, or the emotions do not come out that strongly, somehow. Unlike say, a Deewar, where Amitabh’s anger is permanent virtually.

So all in all, if you can tolerate oodles of violence, do give it a shot. And if you can’t, then you must totally avoid this one.

Here’s an uncharacteristic (for me) Short review of The Dirty Picture: certainly brings alive the Silk Smitha days, Vidya Balan’s got an awesome role for herself and she does well (like she did in Ishqiya), certainly there’s a lot of oomph, story could have had some more depth (post interval, story meanders), awesome dialogs right through. Works reasonably well overall, because as the movie itself says, it’s all about Entertainment, Entertainment, Entertainment. Story no matter! One thing that intrigues me though: a lot of (80’s style, landline) telephone dialing is shown. And the phones connect each time. On first attempt. No.. that wasn’t how it was, in the 80s, was it?? :-)

P.S.: I could have used another (bolder) image here, but I am not about to use Silk to ‘sell my blog’.. lol.

 

It’s become fashionable to find faults in a film and protest till the film has to cut scenes (no matter what that does to the story) or have the producer apologize or pay-up! It appears that every other film generates some such reaction, from some part of our country.

Can anyone stop and think that the film is “fiction” after all?! That its a story line, and in a story, you can have positive and negative characters, and positive and negative emotions as well..

Why is it that people freak out, and take all films and film stories so sensitively?

What if this becomes a trend, and extends beyond objections to “Bombay” or about reservations, or about Karnataka…? What if ordinary people also get sensitive to the portrayals on screens?

Imagine the possibilities:

….

1. The ladies outside the theatre were shouting loud slogans. When the TV reporter put a mike in front of them, the leader said, “how can they have such scenes in the film? It is a complete insult to all of us. What will the world think of us?”

As she said these, the other women started shouting in chorus. “Yes, yes, this film must be banned. Down with the film.. “

After a lot of the sloganeering, finally the reporter was able to get the actual, final reason for the protest, from the leader…

“We hear that there are scenes in the film where a mother-in-law is shown mistreating the daughter-in-law. It so damages the reputation of all mothers-in-law. Seeing the film, no daughter-in-law will like to maintain relations with the m-i-l. In fact, they will take the son and walk away to stay separate. This film is having such dangerous connotations. We cannot allow this. They have to cut those scenes, change the story line, or we will not allow this screening… “

2. The scene outside Rahul Cinema was very strange. It appeared as if all the black marketeer ticket sellers were gathered outside the cinema, and were selling tickets only at this one theatre.

But wait, they were not really selling tickets.

The tight T-shirts, handkerchief bandana wielding “bhais” also had some posters and banners in their hands. In their typical language, they had the messages out “Is philum ko aapun nahi chalne dega, kya?!” and “Saala, ye philum laga to usko khalllas kar dega, samjha kya..?”

The petite TV reporter looked like a midget in between the bhais. But she managed to get her question in, amidst the loud shouting of “down with the film” that they were doing.

She said, “sir, but why are you asking for the film to be pulled down?”

Bhai: “ae taklya, ye kya bol rayli hai re? usko samjha, ye koi inglis gherao nahi hai. Bhai ke saath bambaiya baat karne ka, kya?!”

She gets it. And attempts “Sir.. ye film aap kyo rukvana chahte ho?”

Bhai: “Rokego hi na, saala.. apun ki bhi koi ijjat hai.. “

He continues: “Is philum me bhai logo ko comediyan jaisa bataya hai.. kya hum log itne ch**iye hai kya? Isko dekhne ke baad public aapun se daregi thodi? Mazak karegi aapunka.. ye pikchar ko to hum bandh karvake hi rahenge.. koi bhi is pikchar ko dekhne jaayega to usko hum khullas kar denge..!”

And scenarios of this kind.

What do you think? What will be the next protest?

It’s a little late. But I was thinking I could still protest against Rocket Singh Salesman. As a marketer, it was little insulting.. Maybe I can block the home video release? What say?