Posts Tagged ‘film review’

Managed to get to the Star Movies Secret Screening yesterday. Basically an invite-only movie screening organised by Star Movies, where you don’t know what movie you are going to see, until the movie starts inside the theatre!

Had missed the last couple of these invites due to travel etc., but managed to reach yesterday.

And was happy to see Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s first Hollywood film, Broken Horses.

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At the outset, it is an amazing feat by an Indian producer and director. To go west and create a product that it totally a Hollywood film. Not an NRI story, not an India-based story told to global audiences. This is an out-and-out American film, in appearance. Characters, actors, location (what looks like Southern Texas maybe, close to Mexican border!)… everything. Not even a remote connect to anything Indian, on the front side. Of course, on the back of it, are many Indian names, including producer and director, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, and many others in the crew.

So first of all, salute to Vidhu Chopra for this dare, and for making it happen!

So how does an Indian director go west and create a product there?
Does he pick a script from some US scriptwriters? And try to see what will be interesting and appealing to the western audience. Also to “feel” the script enough, to be able to passionately direct it and create a good product out of it.

This can always be challenging.

So what’s the next best thing?

To see if you already have a script that can be adapted to that audience!

Yes, we have heard and seen American movies being converted to their Indian equivalents (even shows like 24, for example). What happens in such instances, is that the western storyline gets “adapted” to an Indian setting. Some play with the story, some Indianisation, and of course, adding song and dance, if workable..

Has anyone been audacious to think that an Indian story / script can be converted to appeal an international viewer??

Well, that’s the path that Vidhu Chopra adopts.

And of all the body of work that he has himself directed, perhaps the one that suited best for a western adaptation, was Parinda.

And which is exactly what he does in Broken Horses.

Adapts the story of Parinda, quite brilliantly, into an American setting, with the same anger and passion, and creates a really fascinating product.

I for one, liked the treatment although, you can’t help but compare the actors to those in Parinda. In specific terms, Nana Patekar was definitely better as that character, compared to his Hollywood equivalent.

I have loved Vidhu Vinod Chopra’s films, from Parinda, to 1942, A Love Story, to Mission Kashmir, etc. Of course, he has produced some amazing work too. Here with Broken Horses, he scales one new peak.

Congratulations, Vidhu Vinod Chopra!

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My 5-year old nephew rambles away the popular tracks of Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani (YJHD) all day long. Finally, for his sake, we landed up in the theatre on the 2nd week Saturday, surprised to find a nearly packed cinema hall. Maybe YPD-2 had not struck a chord with the audience 🙂

By the time you are in the second week, you’ve already heard and read a lot about a movie, typically. So I had heard that “it’s a long movie”, that “it doesn’t have much of a story”, and even that “YOU won’t like it”.

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I wonder about that last suggestion! Especially in hindsight after having seen the film. Wonder what made the person feel that I won’t like it. Whatever are the kind of signs I have given about the kind of films I don’t like (well, there ARE the obvious ones that I have shared, e.g. dislike science fiction, cartoons, and the like – this was none of those kinds..!).

These reactions had not clouded my expectations, just tampered them! Knowing the star cast, and knowing that it was a modern day setting, Dharma Productions flick, there would be certain good-feel factors like great locations, style, music, etc. And then anything else that is also good, will be a good bonus.

In reality, I found a lot of factors that worked for me, in the movie. And I quite enjoyed it, and would recommend as a good-see, to anyone who’s considering going for it.

While the story is so-so, there are very interesting characters.

Like the girl who’s always been a loner, focused on studies and topping classes, to some extent under the influence of her family, and to some extent maybe, because that’s what she’s always believed to be the right thing to do.

Till the time that she, perhaps for the first time in her life, takes an impulsive plunge to go on a trekking trip, and which becomes a life-changer for her. For being able to discover herself, for knowing that there is more to life than just being “proper”, that life is meant to have fun too.

Whether it is a trekking trip or some other significant moment in people’s lives, I have seen transformations of this kind, in people. And I can identify with this change. And it is so important to take those opportunities that come your way, and flow with them…

The transformation of Deepika’s character in this manner was a good moment, in the film.

I have never thought much of Deepika’s acting. Have thought of her as an average actor, at best. But she does a decent job here. Maybe the ‘coming-back-with-Ranbir’, even if it was just for the one film, worked well for her!

A lot of films with two stars, and two supporting actors, can leave the actors’ characters from showing up. Here we see a good glimpse of the desires, the emotions, the pangs, of the two supporting actors as well. Kalki and Aditya Roy Kapur, in that sense, have good roles and have done a decent job.

That brings us to the one star of the show. Ranbir Kapoor is awesome.

Here’s one more after Wake Up, Sid, Rockstar and Barfi, where he gives an outstanding performance.

He can act with his face, the expressions tell a story. His appearance looks so real with the character he plays.

And he can dance.

Yes, he’s got it in the genes from Rishi, and then he’s gone and improved upon them. Amongst the young breed (and I would classify Hrithik as not-so-young now), he is clearly ahead of the pack, where dancing goes. Perhaps also where acting goes.

The character he plays is one that we’d find amongst the youth today. Not everyone, but not exactly a rare breed.

One who has the confidence to NOT do the typical. One who feels that this is the one life, and one must fill it with the best of times and the best of moments, and live it to the fullest. Why must you be like everyone else?

Very interesting attitude. The film makes it appear to be a little selfish, and there is a degree of self-doubt towards the end. But it is an amazing feeling. Which travel enthusiast sitting in the cinema would have not drooled over the offer to be in 4 different cities of the world for 3 months each, and also be paid for it?! Clearly an aspirational character in a way.

The locales are well chosen, from Manali to Paris to Udaipur, and many others, there are some lovely scenes for the eyes to satiate.

The music of Pritam is good. Many of the songs are very hummable.

Last but not the least, it is always so awesome to see Madhuri Dixit on screen. She continues to amaze with her dancing, and retains her magical smile. Wish she returns for a longer role in some film soon.. ! She gives grace to what could have been other terms, just another ‘item song’!

It IS somewhat long as a movie. 3 hours all in all, inclusive of the interval. But quite an enjoyable three hours overall.

Did you see it too? What did you think about it?

Rarely these days, does a film have packed houses, even on the first weekend. At the late night show on its first Saturday, when I saw a packed house for Kahaani, I could sense two things: that Vidya Balan gets an initial, at least in the aftermath of The Dirty Picture, and that the initial reviews of the film must have been good!

I was motivated to take that late show because of a few good reviews from friends, on Facebook. And I was not disappointed at all.

The movie has an interesting story. Just the right amount of intrigue and anticipation, that bit of suspense. And yet not stretching..

A well written script in short, and beautifully enacted by all actors, and especially Vidya Balan.

Yes, Vidya. She’s clearly taken on the mantle of the thinking heroine of current times. Who waits for, and gets interesting scripts, and then delivers on them. A Shabana Azmi or a Tabu of earlier times, I’d say.

Kahaani is another opportunity for her. A film that rides totally on her, and yet has some other support actors who also put up good, credible performances.

Kolkata is definitely a star of the film. The bylanes, the puchkas, Victoria Memorial, Howrah Bridge, the trams, the metro.. all of these are prominent. And of course, the Puja. When the city immerses as a whole. The preparations, the decorations, the white saris with the red borders, and the characters of the city, from the bored policeman to the young kids smiling and working hard.. yes, Kolkata is a star and also speaks very well, in the film!

The story as you may be aware, is that of a woman coming from London, looking for her husband, who has gone missing in Kolkata. With little support from authorities, she still chugs along relentlessly, and that is what the movie is all about. Won’t spoil it for you, by saying more.

There is an interesting character of a contract killer. Quite creepy, in fact.

One of the highlights of the film has to be Amitabh Bacchan’s rendition of the popular song, “Ekla Chalo Re”. As it is, Bengali is a beautiful language to listen to, and then, it is made priceless by Amitabh’s amazing voice, on this song.

Finally a few words about the director, Sujoy Ghosh. For me, a film is all about the director. His vision, his creativity, his obsession on getting the detail right. And Sujoy Ghosh gets it. He is an Engineer and an MBA, studied in London, spent time in Mumbai and Kolkata. A 46-year old. Not trained in cinema. Learnt all he knows, from watching Satyajit Ray films.

So he does this, as I can see, for the passion that he has for cinema. And that’s what makes the film what it is. He combines well with the hardworking and creative Vidya Balan too. Here are a couple of snippets I read, which are very interesting, from a film making point of view:

1. He asks Vidya to go and walk in the crowd. Without hesitation, she goes ahead and does that. Only when cameras are seen, do people realize that shooting is going on!

2. In many scenes, they don’t tell Vidya when she needs to get up, move etc. The cameras are set, and they just follow as she gets up, moves, etc. Amazing..

Overall, my recommendation on the film. Definitely worth a watch. You will find time and money well spent.. !

Mausam is veteran actor Pankaj Kapur’s first directorial venture. 

He has delivered some great work as an actor, on television as well as on cinema. And as per perception, he does appear to be a ‘thinking’ actor. As would be the wont for a serious thespian of his kind, over the years, he may have had a lot of ideas, on the kind of cinema that he’d like to make. If he got a chance..

And then he got that chance. With Mausam.

And he went ahead and put all those ideas into the one and same film! Perhaps not being sure if he’d get a second chance (after seeing Mausam, I do have doubts – maybe he should just stick to acting).

And so we have Mausam where the story moves from and covers:

– Incidents like 1992 Babri Masjid riots, 1993 Mumbai blasts, 1999 Kargil war, 2001 US 9/11 incident, and 2002 Gujarat riots,

– Locations from small town Punjab, to Mumbai, to Scotland, to Switzerland, to Ahmedabad.

All of these are not mentioned in passing, but have a place in the narrative.

You’d think that packing so much into a feature film would make the film a fast paced one, right?

Surprise, surprise!! With so much that Pankaj Kapur covers, he still manages to play the story in crawl mode. Ultra slow..

Yes, the story seems to not be going anywhere often. So sitting in the theatre, I check my mail on the phone, I put out some tweets, check Facebook etc., even as the story is unfolding (well, “not” unfolding in fact…!) on the screen in front of me!

Some of you may want to stop here, if all you wanted was a verdict. Yes, its a clear no-no.

But for what it’s worth, let me share a few more thoughts on the film:

– I love the visuals in the film. Then I look at the credits. And I am not surprised. Binod Pradhan’s an absolute master cinematographer. And he’s done a brilliant job here too. From the visuals of Punjab (the best of the lot) to Scotland and the cement pipes, the camera and the lights have worked their magic.

– Small-town Punjab has been captured well. The prosperity on the one hand, the humor (the ‘musical chairs’ scene is funny), the global connections, the characters like the taangewala, the youth and their options in life, the girl besotted by the handsome neighbor, etc. capture the early 1990s’ Punjab well. We also discover how Atlas Cycles and others have built their fortunes!

– It is also interesting to understand how, in this modern world, in a single lifetime, a person could go through so much. Aayat (Sonam Kapoor) is born and brought up in her early years, in Srinagar. She gets uprooted from there and sent to small town Punjab, for a while. From there to Mumbai, then to Scotland, back to small town Punjab, then again to Scotland, to the US, and then, to Ahmedabad. And by this time, she’s still about 25-26 or so. Wonder what else she has coming up, in her life. While this does not happen to everyone, it is not something that is unbelievable either. This is the kind of world that we live in. Amazing, isn’t it? The kind of extreme swings that life can give, and how one has to keep adopting today.. very interesting!

– I guess it takes an experienced and successful Aditya Chopra or a Raju Hirani to follow their  gut, and stay close to the conviction that they have, about their narrative. All other filmmakers are subject to tremendous insecurity and fear of failure, due to which reason, they include ‘elements’ that are not really connected to the story, but which have commercial appeal. Is that the reason for introducing Scotland / Switzerland in Mausam, for example? Could those locations equally have been Mumbai or Bangalore, otherwise? Why not? But a) the visual appeal of those locations, and b) the Scottish and Swiss Tourism Boards bankrolling some dollars in return for the “product placement” would have found attraction. The dance item a the end of the movie also, had no relevance, but added to appeal to the Shahid fans. You never saw such gimmicks in good films of yore, and directors narrated their stories, and that was it!

– I am sure girls swoon for Shahid, and he looks good, and uniforms do create a special appeal. However, other than some smart dancing (I rank Shahid only next to Hrithik in terms of dancing abilities, on Indian screen today) and cute smiles, there is nothing great about his acting here. There are scenes where he literally acts poor and in others, he is average. Perhaps his father, the director, has also not given him any special histrionics, which could have been a distinct possibility, given that he was the central character, and on screen, perhaps for more than 80% of the time! Rakesh Roshan drew out much better juice from his son’s talent pool, than Pankaj manages to do here.

– Sonam Kapoor has to look pretty, hum a few “haanji / naji” kind of dialogs, giggle a bit, etc. She does all of that. Along with the Kashmiri carpets and the Atlas cycles, she’s part of the furniture on the sets! Her height actually makes her look ungainly in many scenes. Dressed in the typical loose fitting Punjabi salwar kameez, as a student earlier, and and also in the last scene, as a married mother, she looks very funny. I think they have purposely not taken too many side-by-side standing scenes of Sonam and Shahid. Else she’d come out looking taller than him. She does give a perception of being taller, which Shahid obviously has a small frame. Not a great pair, in that sense..

– I did not quite see the relevance of the title, ‘Mausam’. Of course, it is a passage of time. But most stories are. What might have been a better title is “Taalen”. The story if anything, is a story of locked doors!! If you see the film, you will know what I mean… 🙂

In summary:

1. Amol Palekar did a terrible job as director of Paheli. Pankaj Kapur falls in the same trap now, with Mausam. Great actors, who when they have got their opportunity to direct a mainstream Hindi cinema with a largish budget, lose their original sensibilities of film making, and go overboard, trying to pack too many things. Also depend a lot on the main sellable actor (Shah Rukh in Paheli, and Shahid here). And end up making a dud. Mausam is a box office cropper. Pankaj will have a tough time finding backers for a second venture.

2. Shahid Kapoor is capable of more and has shown us too. He needs to put more into his work, and choose scripts that suit him better. His overall frame does not make him a convincing senior Air Force officer, no matter he thrown in a moustache there. Walking around inspecting the aircraft makes him look like a mechanic of the aircraft rather than an ace pilot!

3. Sonam Kapoor. Well, she’s fine. She’s not a fantastic actress, so she’s good to be in the glam face on screen kind of roles, make some money, have a good life. Yeah, she’s fine!!

It hurt more as the cinema had raised the ticket prices to 270/-. Was not worth the money. Hope the mausam changes and we get better cinema in coming weeks.. !!

Here are my views on Ishqiya directed by Abhishek Chaubey, produced by Vishal Bhardwaj:

And I refer to Gulzar and the music in the film. The best one clearly is ‘dil to bachha hai’. So here are the lyrics and the song.. enjoy: