Posts Tagged ‘Aamir Khan’

First things first.

Mom, if you are reading this, and since you wanted to know my thoughts on the film, to decide whether to watch the film or not, here’s the simple answer. You will not like it. There is no interval in the film, but you may walk out of the film, midway through it, anyway. Mainly on account of the constant flow of expletives, both in Hindi and in English!

Then again, you may not want to be in some agency offices either, and you may like to walk into some of the meetings in our office also, only after prior warning!!

Yes, so where Delhi Belly “shows” that reality, Buddha Hoga Tera Baap chooses to “beep-beep” it instead. Anyway, that’s a different story, and enough about BHTB already!

Coming back to Delhi Belly, their tagline is “Shit Happens”. And yes, there is a character who suffers from diarrhea all through the movie, and besides the language in the film, we are also subjected to viewing this “crap”!

That apart, this slice-of-life flick is fast paced, funny and contemporary. Very today!

3 bachelors surviving in a dungeon like flat in Delhi, doing jugaad to make life a little better, having girl friends, have their lives turned upside down. By accident. And they don’t even know what hit them, when one of them is strung to the ceiling with a tie around his neck!

And then follows the chase and their survival strategies!

The movie is originally made in English, with some spattering of Hindi. It has also been released in a full-Hindi version. Don’t know if it is just dubbed in Hindi. I saw the Hinglish one..

To that extent, it does appear to be a metro, multiplex audience targeted movie, then.

There is no interval too. And I thought, multiplexes did not really make money running, fully A/C theatre screens, to often, sparse audiences. It was the expensive popcorn and samosas that really made money for multiplexes. So how can they accept a movie without an interval. Would drop snacks purchases by at least 70%, if not more??!

So obviously, the society has got a lot more open and accepting of what were taboos, till sometime back. Heavy usage of four letter words, including the desi BCs-MCs, are par for course. Sex and heavy smooches, casual talk of homosexuality, are all also quite acceptable in this day and age now. Yes, they would shock many, still. Which is why I asked my Mom to not bother to waste her money. But for a lot of today’s society, these are acceptable facts of life. So there.

The acting is good. Imran excels. So do his two pals, and Vijay Raaz is special, as he always is. The women are also competent, and in spite of the short film, all characters are developed quite well. Aamir Khan’s special appearance at the end, for an item number, is kind of an icing to the cake.

So long as you don’t get shocked by the use of expletives, go watch it. Should be fun.

And all this talk about not watching with your family etc. is exaggerated. There isn’t much here, that you don’t see in a Hollywood flick that you could be watching together at home, or even on some of the sitcoms.. I watched the film with wife and daughter! And all of us enjoyed it. Except the wife was disgusted by all the shit that happened. On screen. Literally.. 🙂

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Kiran Rao’s first film does have its moments. And some extremely bright spots.

Consider this dialog that Prateik’s character, Munna speaks, on being asked about his background:

– that he is not from Mumbai,

– that he came from small town Bihar,

– that he came at an age of 8, to his uncle who was here,

– that he has never gone back since,

– that he doesn’t really miss Bihar, and is comfortable about not going back,

– that home was “okay”,

– that he used to be “hungry” at home,

– that the first job he got on coming to Mumbai, was at a hotel, where he got a lot of slaps but also got enough food.

This is the story of Mumbai, and the place it holds for Indians. A place that provides. A place that is better than their home, even if there is struggle here.

And Munna struggles, for sure. He runs the dhobi ghat, washes and irons clothes, and delivers them to his customers. The whole works. And then at night, when the pavement dwellers sleep, he goes out with his stick and big torch, and finds them rodents and kills them. And makes the street a safer place for the migrants to keep sleeping in peace!

Yes, Mumbai’s tough. But it still provides. And leaves room to dream. As Prateik dreams to get into films. Now getting into films may be the most cliched dream, but think of it as an example. Someone could dream of building houses, or becoming another Dhirubhai. Here it is the next Salman Khan, perhaps, for Munna. But that again is part of Mumbai. It enables you to dream..

As you look out into the sea and get wet in the rains. Yes, the sea and the rains. Two extremely powerful and unique symbolisms of Mumbai. Shown repeatedly by Kiran Rao, reminded me that if it was not for the sea and the rains, the magic of Mumbai would have not been there at all! As Mumbaiites, we take these for granted. But both are such powerful connects to Mumbai – almost like the cliched “spirit of Mumbai”.

The character of the young Muslim bride is a classic. Extremely excited to be in Mumbai first, seeping in all of the ‘bhel-puri’ and ‘pav bhaji’ of Mumbai, video taping and commenting on all that fascinates her, about the city, but as time goes by, and the reality of big city life sinks in, you see the spirit waning. And yet, she maintains a matter-of-fact reality front. Is that again how a Mumbaiite takes life? Which is where, he moves on, after the riots, and after being abused and ill treated by the powers that be, in spite of its critical role in the country’s economy? I wonder..

Aamir Khan and Monica Dogra have high visibility in the film, but they are only bridges connecting to Prateik and Kiran, the real “characters” exemplifying the diary of Mumbai!

I love the visuals of Mumbai, the old crowded streets, the cramped flats, the funny, forking streets full of people and vehicles, the Marine Drive especially at night, crowded streets of Mohammed Ali Road in Ramzan nights, etc. Its been done before, but I like it here too.

So why are so many complaining that the film does not work?

Because it is more of a diary and less of a film! That’s why..

Yes, it has been equated to a good documentary, and while that may be a tad unfair tag to give, it goes closer to being a rambling of scenes and visuals and experiences, rather than a real story woven out, and delivered. Even if it had to take only 95 minutes to do so.

So I guess, if you are looking for a good story, and typical entertainment, you may safely skip this one. On the other hand, if you are looking to “see” Mumbai, especially if you are a born-and-brought-up Mumbaikar, and want to see Mumbai from the eyes of an outsider (which is what most of modern Mumbai is about), you may like this view.

I have too much respect for Ashutosh Gowariker’s work, to let his latest film pass. I mean, he’s the one who gave us excellent films like Lagaan, Swades and Jodhaa Akbar. So I was keen to check out Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey.

Which is why, when on the first weekend of the film, for a Sunday evening show, I found the theatre very sparsely filled, I realized that this one’s not working for him. At least at the box office.

And when in the first few minutes of the film, you see a two long pig tailed Deepika Padukone and her friend, singing a song, that looked like it came straight out of Ashok Kumar’s days (Ashok Kumar as a HERO, mind you!), I had my worst fears confirmed. That Ashutosh has probably got it wrong this time around. At least from the box office point of view. This is not going to work with today’s audience, for sure!

So before I write more about KHJJS, let’s take a quick peek at AG’s earlier work.

Lagaan was also a period film. BUT it had Aamir Khan’s magic. It had awesome music from A R Rahman (which was NOT period music!), and it had a sports story, where India beats England. This works! As a fictional piece of period movie, AG had the opportunity to use cricket for one, and let India win, for another. Those were great winning points, and which is where Lagaan went on to become the great hit that it became.

Swades was a great story too. Tugged the hearts of modern day India, and especially NRIs. SRK magic, this time. And it worked again.

Then came Jodhaa Akbar. Again a period film. Large scale sets. Phenomenal work by Hrithik and Aishwarya. Some romance, good songs again. All in all, impressive enough to score big. Very big.

Now coming to KHJJS, it is closer to Lagaan than any other of his previous work. But the story is real. Not that much drama (perhaps because it is real – you can dramatize fiction, but facts are to show!). And unfortunately, amongst all the actors AG has worked with, Abhishek is truly not in the same class. So the draw is not there, from the star’s point of view then.

The fact that it is a real story, one of the many in India’s struggle for independence, it is also a story where the Indian protagonist does NOT win (we don’t win, till we actually win in 1947 – all others were only attempts). So that is again what Indian audiences do not really like to see. Losing to the British!!

In the backdrop of these challenges – and I am sure AG would have appreciated these, even as he took on this project – it is a brave effort for AG to take on a story and a subject line of this kind. I would appreciate AG for this effort, then.

The story itself is amazing. From being a chapter in India’s long struggle for independence. A small city in Bengal, creating a serious revolt, with help of highly motivated school children and ladies. It was an outrageous attempt, in which they almost succeeded to win freedom, for that city at least! Would have been a fantastic victory.

Amongst other things, the film reinforced my respect for Bengalis, and their involvement in India’s freedom struggle. That the Bengali kids took umbrage in the British coming and taking over their football ground, and that hurt them so badly that they were willing to join the activists fighting for freedom, shows to me that character of Bengalis. One that takes no-nonsense, and fights for the things that they believe in!

Like I had mentioned after seeing The Japanese Wife, I love seeing the real small town India, its culture, its language, etc.  And especially Bengal. Like in case of The Japanese Wife, here too, it is a pleasure to see the life of old time, small-town Bengal. I especially loved all the names, with the typical Bengali sounds, and the general language itself, with its Bengali style.

I am not sure about the new new generation in India, for whom independence is far away. Whether they will appreciate this story or not. But we are the generation that did not have much TV in our childhood, history then was part of our entertainment dosage, especially the kind that was fed to us via Amar Chitra Kathas. For us, this story, a part of that Indian freedom struggle, should definitely be of interest.

I found the film to be thought provoking in that sense. Thoughts about how such revolutionaries emerged in various parts of the country. How the British abused power and gave birth to such rebellion. About the mind of a freedom fighter, and how he manages to rally people around him. How thankful we as a country are, to have had such rebellions, that ultimately created enough pressure, to lead us to our independence.

The film is long. Yes, AG falls too much in love with his work and his raw footage. And cannot make himself to cut out more of his work. And ends up making long films. This one is no exception. This could have been a little shorter though.

The music is purposely made to look old fashioned, like it is actually from the 1930s. That makes it tough for people to be attracted to it, today!

The support cast of the kids and other actors is fine. They do a sincere job.

The challenge is with the lead actors. Deepika does not have much to do. And she does not do it! She hangs around – she does not even have any seriously significant scenes, where she has to emote strongly!

Abhishek on the other hand, disappoints. In a good role, and a perfect platform to show his prowess. But he delivers a very average performance. He had a chance to showcase for example, how he has a magnetic effect and why followers throng to him. Well, followers do throng to him, but that is as per the story. We do not see why – he does not show us the reasons. In fact, he is very subdued. Even in crisis, when the entire band of his people are crestfallen, and have their heads hung down, he does not demonstrate any serious leadership, nor show the path and the hope for a better tomorrow.

Even if Surya Sen in real life was quiet, some dramatic liberties could have been taken here, by AG, and brought out the character to be a little more aggressive than what he has done here, with Abhishek.

In fact, to put it simply, and to compare, Hrithik had acted better with his face and head, in Guzaarish, than what Abhishek has done with his entire body, in this film!!

At this point, just to compare KHJJS with a classic from the same genre, in a way. Lets consider 1942, A Love Story. That was also set in the background of the Indian freedom struggle, but based in north India. The difference there was the fictional aspect, which allowed Vidhu Chopra to play around. To introduce the romance, the brilliant songs and music from R D Burman! And the great visuals of the hills. And most importantly, being fiction, it could again show a win, even if a limited type, against the British! Which liberty, a true story like KHJJS did not have.

With all that, for the lover of Indian history, for one to appreciate what our forefathers did and how they fought for us to get our independence, and for a generally decent film made by Ashutosh Gowariker, I would still recommend seeing it once!

The film has provoked my thoughts around freedom fighters in general, and I may share those in a separate post.

So the title of the post says it all. 3 Idiots is a wonderful, wonderful movie, and I recommend it to one and all. So if that is all that you wanted to know, read no further.

But if you’d like to know more, here’s the first clear message. That in Rajkumar Hirani, we have one of the finest story tellers in Indian cinema today. From the Munnabhai series to 3 Idiots now, we see Hirani’s films combine some fascinating elements: light-hearted comedy which does not need to be slapstick and yet generates the guffaws in the audience, emotions that manage to wet your eyes, a message to the society, and in the end, a fantastic feel-good factor. As you come out of his movies, you have a smile on your face, which says that it was time very well spent there, on the cinema seat.

Yes, that seems to have become the trademark of Rajkumar Hirani, and which is certainly how 3 Idiots is too. And I am sure that Vidhu Vinod Chopra has a big role to play as well. I suspect that he is not a typical money-providing silent producer, but rather a keen team player shaping out the details of the film, and in that respect, the Hirani-Vidhu Chopra combo is one of the best things going in Indian cinema today. Cheers to them, and may they keep brings good films to us.

3 paras done, and I have not even mentioned the name which is the only name, otherwise read everywhere else, where 3 Idiots is being written about. Yes, Aamir Khan. Undoubtedly, he is brilliant, and the film completely rides on him. Which in some sense, is a shame. I mean, Rang De Basanti was not called 5 Rebels or Dil Chahta Hai was not called 3 Great Friends, and yet Aamir shared a lot of the screen space with others. And here, a film is CALLED 3 Idiots, but for most parts of the movie, it is 1 Idiot, and then perhaps another couple of quarter idiots, making a total of 1.5 Idiots on the whole!! This is just an observation. But from the narrative point of view, or from our enjoying the film itself, it does not matter at all. Aamir works, nay, he rocks! As usual!!

If Rocket Singh celebrated the Salesmen, 3 Idiots celebrates Engineers. As an Engineer myself, the entire education system shown is so completely identifiable. It was almost nostalgic in that sense. The extremely quirky character that was built around Virus or Viru Shahastrabudhe (Boman Irani) seemed exaggerated, but rest assured, in all engineering schools, some such highly quirky characters exist, in the garb of faculty! Boman of couse, is another great member of Hirani’s team, a fabulous actor, and he does a great job.

Madhavan does not get many moments to excel. In a far shorter role, he had made an impact in Rang De Basanti, but here, he appears almost like a hero’s buddy, hanging around with him. Sharman Joshi, the 3rd Idiot, does have his moments. A few high charged scenes show his innate ability on screen, and we wish that he gets better roles to showcase his awesome talent. Kareena, for most parts, is good eye candy, and which is fine with us. If you must have eye candy, get the best available one in the industry today!

3 Idiots has its genesis in a book of Chetan Bhagat’s (which I have not read) but I believe Rajkumar Hirani has taken off from there, and built an amazing story with plots and sub-plots nicely woven in. In fact, this is another Hirani trademark that you see in the Munnabhai movies as well. For those who do not remember, the character and the story of Jimmy Shergill in Munnabhai was not trivial, and in fact, an excellent sub-plot, with its own climax before the real climax! Likewise, Hirani brings in sub-plots here as well. The delivery of Mona Singh’s baby, and what it takes to make it happen, is one such climax before the real climax. Keeps you glued to the seats, and does not allow the story to meander.

Likewise, Hirani has the uncanny ability to create symbolisms that the audience carry with them beyond the film. If it was the “jadoo ki chappi” in Munnabhai, here it is the “All is well” chant. Yes, it has left a mark, and if proof is needed, one has to only check my Facebook wall, to see how many have combined this phrase with their Christmas greetings!!

In conclusion, I would only say that my respect for Rajkumar Hirani has gone up multifold. Yes, the world is talking about Aamir Khan, and he does drive the movie. But I see this even more as a Hirani film, the masterful story telling, the simple and effective manner to entertain, without needing to resort to slapstick, without needing item numbers or unnecessary schmooze, or violence. Without needing to go to Switzerland (like Yash Chopra) or without needing half the industry best in his film (like Karan Johar). Yes, indeed, Hirani delivers in the way cinema should. With a good story. Told and shown well. Simple, but touching the heart, making you laugh, and making you cry a bit as well.

Cheers to Rajkumar Hirani!!

*** Spoiler warning: if you are planning to see Ghajini, don’t read this just yet… ***

After my previous comments on Rab Ne Banadi Jodi, and how I did not like it much, I have come across so many other opinions, many of which are far different from mine.

And now, as I start penning my thoughts on Ghajini, in the face of some flattering reviews and ratings that the film has received, and which I am not quite agreeable to, I am wondering:

– are the fans starved for good films, and anything that has Shah Rukh Khan or Aamir Khan, and meets some base level standards is like an oasis in the desert, and hence gets huge respect, anyway?

– or is it just me, and my expectations from films have become higher, and I am not quite impressed by mundane fair, no matter if it has names like SRK or Aamir, in the titles,

– or once a few reviewers write good things, there is a fundamental opinion base formed, and people tend to not want to be the odd ones out to disagree, and hence fall-in with the initial opinion??

Well, I am searing for answers to this, even as by now, you would have guessed, what I feel about Ghajini.

That it is certainly not as impressive as the reviews and the ratings are calling it out to be.

Again before plunging in to share the thoughts on Ghajini in particular, I must remark this trend in SRK and Aamir films these days. That perhaps out of the fact that they are so expensive as stars, and also because they usually have larger than life characters written for them, the rest of the cast in their films, is relatively obscure (read “cheap”). And the film still carries off, on their own names. Rab Ne, Ghajini, Om Shanti Om, Tare Zameen Par, even Lagaan, Rang De Basanti, etc. are a case in point. SRK has done Karan Johar films, where larger star casts have been packed in, but Aamir in particular, with the rare exception of Fanaa (with Kajol) has worked with lesser entities, more often.

Coming to Ghajini, its a gruesome, violent thriller in a way, and reminds me of Aamir Khan’s Ghulam. Using the medical condition of a type of amnesia, there is creativity in the manner in which the character tries to make best use of that partial and temporary memory to reach his goal of revenge.

Its perhaps the first time, where a film is named after the villain’s name! Ghajini..is the name of the villain in the film! Strange choice, but I guess that is what sounded most unique, and they zeroed in on the same.

Aamir, as expected, delivers a power packed performance. That is only to be expected of him.

But there are too many questions that I could not find answers for, in the narrative:

1. When a CEO comes on a flight, from somewhere, does he have to have so many of his executives standing like servants, receiving him on the airfield?

2. Why does he commute with a cavalcade of 4 cars and executives, wherever he goes? Does Sunil Mittal do that? Does Anil Ambani do that? I find it very strange.

3. Okay, so he looks like being a large cell phone operator, aiming to become the largest. Does he, as CEO, still go to select every hoarding site that they are going to use?

4. Then when a hoarding site is decided, the CEO’s personal executive needs to go to that tenant’s workplace first, and then her home, to convince her, to allow them to use her place for the hoarding. And he has to repeat umpteen times that the CEO himself has sent him, for this purpose.

5. And like in Rab De, here too, the hero masquerades as someone else. He is a famous celebrity of sorts, being a big time CEO, but he moves around everywhere including for parties attended by ad agencies, and nobody recognizes him.

6. The heroine has never seen the photograph of the real CEO. Even though he is seen to be interviewed by television channels?!

7. A medical student gets so keen and interested in his story, that she ventures out knowingly, into the fortress of the violent villain!

8. Where the villain is said to move around murdering quite comfortably, when the hero reaches their hideout, none of the dozens of the villain’s men, nor the villain have a pistol available with them. Which is why the unarmed hero chases them all over and hurts them with his bare hands. Where is the ammo man?

9. How shoddily they show the villain with all his goons, get out from their cars, and this short term memory loss hero, and the medical student go on a piddly scooter, unarmed, and not even wearing a measly helmet! And then they stop right across of the gang, in a narrow alley, but no one spots them. Yeah, you have to believe this.

10. The villain who looks like a proper goonda, in the way he dresses, he talks, the people he moves about with, is supposed to also be a pharma company owner, of big time. Although he is otherwise involved in human body parts, he has been shown several times, inside his pharma factory and actually near machinery. Why is this necessary? Seems so out of place and unlikely?

11. Also this goon of a villain is called as a chief guest at a medical college function. And so that day, he dresses up in a suit too. What a charade?

Sorry..just too many questions that I cannot find answers to. A film can have 1 or 2 of such boo-boos, but having so many of them, makes it a questionable venture, for me!

The heroine Asin, gives a sincere performance, and also has a good screen presence.

A R Rehman delivers one of his average performances, at least by his high standards.

Oh.. there is one more parallel between Rab Ne and Ghajini. In both of these films, the hero has been shown to masquearade as someone else, for extended period of time, just to show his extreme love for the girl. What a coincidence. So is that going to become the default way of expression of love, when both Aamir and SRK are shown to be doing so??

All in all, an Okay film, at best.

– Sanjay