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Monday, June 30, 2008

Movie Review : Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic

Thoda Pyaar Thoda Magic (drama)

Cast: Rani Mukherji, Saif Ali Khan, Ameesha, Rishi Kapoor

Direction: Kunal Kohli 

THODA rona dhona. Thoda tweeny pranks. And thoda special effects. Ten minutes into the movie and you know what's up next for the suave biz tycoon Ranbeer Talwar (Saif Ali Khan), who walks out of award ceremonies (of course, with awards) even before his name is actually called out for. Phew! Now that's what we call a poor little rich boy! Cut to the tale of four sorry kids who've lost their parents, courtesy the hit-and-run Mr Tycoon. Of course, he ends up playing court-appointed-legal guardian to the kids. As for the kids, they find shelter and naturally it's their chance to take panga with their unwanted foster pop. Not to miss out is Ameesha, who in a way nails the silly fashionista part, not just in her skimpy outifts, but also her blind faith in astrology. Makes for some lazy lamhe with a welcome change of image by Ms Goody Two Shoes!  

But hey, no magic here till now. So where is the magic? Well, the magic actually starts working in the second half when angel-turned-nanny-turned- didi Rani Mukerji, aka angel Geeta, makes the tycoon and the kids realise the world is but a beautiful place. And how does she do it in that house of badmashi, bullying, back stabbing amidst the bratpack of four kids, Vasisht (Akshat Chopra), Avantika, Aditi and Iqbal? First, by playing almost wifey to Saif (though not one for real) in an authorative way, as her heavenly English accents gets lost with some earthy punjabisation. And then with the kids by flying her way through literally every problem -- the sea, swimming pool, forest, jungles, museum... You name it and she's zooming ahead, with a song and a smile! For this celestial being belongs to the heavens, abode to God (Rishi Kapoor), who has the toughest task of all... He needs to make humans learn to live happily ever, just like the fairy tale.   

Kunal Kohli turns his attention from seemingly adult tales -- Hum Tum, Fanaa -- to a desification of Mary Poppins. And like his earlier films, he displays a strong hold on the medium, despite shifting gears to sentimental family drama. Saif's good, Rani's commendable, but the show stealers are the babalog who carry the emotional parts to near-perfection on their frail shoulders. Truly, it's the age of WHIZ KID in Indian cinema! 


Movie Review : Via Darjeeling

 Via Darjeeling (Thriller)

Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Sonali Kulkarni, Pravin Dabas, Vinay Pathak, Rajat Kapoor, Sandhya Mridul

Direction: Arindam Nandy 

HERE'S your chance to give a perfect ending to a honeymooning couple, Ankur Sharma (Kay Kay) and Rimli Sharma (Sonali Kulkarni), on their way back home via Darjeeling. All you need to do is solve the mystery of the missing husband. And no prizes, only clues, for guessing that. For starters, there is the lead given by Robin Dutt (Vinay Pathak) who plays the kewl cop on the mysterious case. Taking off from there is yet another fine performance by Ronodeep Sen (Rajat Kapoor) with his editorial hunger for ‘unpublished scandals'. Next in line is Mallika Tiwari (Sandhya Mridul) who never trusts a man who smokes an unlit cigarette. That's another story, we realise as the movie progresses, that she trusts no man. Followed by decent performances by hostess Preeti Sen (Simone Singh) and filmmaker Kaushik Chatterjee (Proshanth Narayanan) with his who-needs-a-tried-and-tested formula to make movies work. As for the prime characters, Sonali does a smart tightrope between the sometime-steady-sometime-two timing wife, while it is Kay Kay, who as he moves from one part of the movie to the next, reaches a new level of excellence. As for why Darjeeling, keep guessing? Sadly, the film barely captures any scenic beauty of the place.

So do you really get to know whatever happened to Ankur? Well choose your pick from the versions given by sub-characters -- maybe Ankur was a con man, maybe Ankur was killed, maybe he committed suicide or maybe he was planning to kill his wife... Whatever it is, we really don’t know. Not even after the movie ends! So, is this an Indian Rashomon? Did we hear Kurosawa groan? Here's an experimental film that needed some more time in the petri dish.


Movie Review : Duvidha

Duvidha (drama)
Cast: Rashi B. Manoj Verma
Direction: Sharat Kumar 

A married woman has been living as a caretaker with her husband and daughter in a palatial bungalow on the hills. So much so, she begins to fancy herself as the owner itself. When the patriarch of the family, a freedom fighter, dies, his son wants to sell off the building, since he will not be able to fulfill his parent's dream of using it for social welfare. But the lady has grown ambitious and does not want to return to her plebeian roots, even though her husband washes his hands off her ungodly ambition. She wants to retain the bungalow, by hook or by crook and unleashes a set of forces in the small town that turns out to be a simmering cauldron of politics, intrigue and greed.

Based on a book, Lal Kothi Alvidha , the film has an immensely amateur look and feel to it to actually end up as a lament for the passing of an era. The sequences of the freedom struggle look absolutely incongruous, although the present has been dealt with some drama. Too theatrical.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movie Review : De Taali

De Taali
Cast: Aftab Shivdasani, Riteish Deshmukh, Ayesha Takia, Rimii Sen
Direction: E. Niwas

THE funniest line of the film comes as a graffiti scrawled on the friendship wall. 'Amu is a Boy,' is boldly scrawled on the walls of the tree house by the trio of friends which includes Abhi (Aftab Shivdasani), Paglu (Riteish Deshmukh) and Amu (Ayesha Takia). Obviously Amu is the archetypal one-of-the-boys girls in this backslappers club, despite her two plaits and her red nails. Ironically, the film is unable to cash in on this cute camaraderie between three best friends and gets into schmaltzy terrain that threatens to smother the laughs, time and again. Purely a case of comedy gone sour.

Now that's sad, specially since the film throws up some interesting characters and some goofy acting that could have augured well for a breezy comic act. Trouble begins in this light-hearted drama when ebullient Amu loses her heart to her best friend Abhi, just when he seems to have finally found true love after 31 aborted tries. Trouble turns somewhat zany when the friends (Amu and Paglu) discover the newfound love interest (Rimii Sen) in their friend's life is a cunning gold digger who has run away from home and sent innumerable men to support groups for the alcoholic. The friendly duo kidnaps the bride-to-be and hopes to cure their friend of his obsession. But love, ah! And bad girls, ah!

The film gets too long and repetitive, even though it has its funny moments. Rimii Sen joins the galaxy of glam-crooks that have been parading the hall of fame this year.


Saturday, June 21, 2008

Yukta makes a comeback

Former Miss World, Yukta Mookhey is making her much delayed comeback in a film called Memsaheb.

And we must admire the guts of the makers who have put up larger than life hoardings of Yukta all over the city.

“This is my best performance till date,” a source quoted her as saying. Really? Which other performances is she talking about? Anyway the big question is.. are we really interested to see this Memsaheb on the big screen?


Movie Review : Haal-e-Dil

Cast: Amita Pathak, Nakul Mehta, Adhyan Suman
Direction: Anil Devgan

ANYONE for Jab We Met minus its zing? Anyone for a long train journey from Mumbai to Kalka, which is supposed to be romantic but ends up as tedious and almost derailed?

There's a serious-looking girl in specs who's on a train to Simla. She meets a funny looking boy who is determined to make a pest of himself with his magic shows that include stealing some radish and carrots from the fields en-route. Soon, her haal-e-dil grows quite serious, as she keeps dreaming of her boyfriend in Simla and flirting with the boy on her berth.

Unlike Jab We Met , you can't wait for this journey to end.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Shah Rukh’s tribute to stars of yore

Aditya Chopra is leaving no stone unturned to make his ambitious film, the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer, Rab ne Bana Di Jodi, a grand success. Aditya Chopra has recorded an 11-minute song in the film for one important sequence that will have Sonu Niggaam paying tribute to five yesteryear stars.

Our source says, “Aditya has recorded an 11-minute song in the film which show cases the style of five different generations in one single song. The song tracks the journey from 1950s to the ’90s to the present era and will be picturised on Shah Rukh Khan. Adi had reached a dead end with the song, and had almost scrapped it, when he thought of Sonu.

The specialty of the song? It’s a tribute by SRK to stalwarts like Raj Kapoor, Dev Anand, Shammi Kapoor, Rajesh Khanna and Rishi Kapoor.

Music composers Salim-Suleiman and lyricist Jaideep Sahni were asked to compose the song which would have the first line of the most famous numbers by these romantic icons – involving songs sung by singers like Mukesh, Rafi, Kishore and Jolly Mukherjee. Ranging from the ’50s to the ’90s, the voice had to encompass the spirit of the old and the new equally, and Sonu was the only option. Apparently, Sonu, who was travelling extensively, obliged to rehearse thrice and work on the song and then finally sang in less than 45 minutes. Sonu Niggaam remained unavailable for comment.


Sunday, June 8, 2008

Movie Review : Aamir

Aamir (thriller)
Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal
Direction: Raj Kumar Gupta

THIS one's a surprise package with its thrilling pace, it's smart direction and its meaningful script. And yes, Rajeev Khandelwal makes a riveting switch from the small screen to the big screen with this film.

More importantly, the film covers new ground in terms of its story which throws light on the trauma of the secular Muslim who literally finds the ground shrinking beneath his feet. If his name makes him vulnerable to racial profiling, then his secular credentials become a bugbear for the fundamentalists within his community. That's the vortex that sucks our protagonist Aamir, a young doctor who returns to India from London, only to find a death trap awaiting him. A faceless voice leads him on through the hardcore Muslim-dominated areas of Mumbai and threatens to kill his family if he doesn't deliver a red briefcase to its destination. The doctor tries his best to run away, but suddenly the whole city of Mumbai seems to be brimming over with misguided soldiers of God who want him to join their ill-gotten crusade. Of course, when the moment of reckoning comes, it is the tormented man's individual choice which will determine his future ideology.

The film moves like a relentless thriller, even as the camera captures the underbelly of Mumbai with all its squalour and grime. Even the characters of the film - the drifters, the mercenaries, the thugs, the prostitute -- seem to be drawn from real life and give a slice-of-life texture to the film. Finally, it is the voice of sanity which rises above the wreckage and reaffirms your belief in a new kind of cinema that is throbbing amidst the bylanes of Bollywood. Truly, a smart debut film.


Saturday, June 7, 2008

Shahid learning new tricks!

Shooting abroad has its advantages!

Besides getting to work in serene surrounding, actors get to discover and learn new things. One actor who will vouch for that is Shahid Kapur. The actor learnt rollerblading during the shooting of his upcoming movie in Canada. Rollerblading is a favourite sport amongst Canadians as cricket is to Indians. And, when Shahid got to know about rollerblading, he got curious about it and soon became a master at it. But, there he had to encounter one major hitch.

Shahid, who could begin doing rollerblading very gracefully, just could not learn the art to stop it. He mastered the techniques from putting on the skate to controlling speed and even doing tricks, but did not know how to come to a halt. A guy was then appointed on the sets to help Shahid whenever he wanted to come to a halt. And, Shahid being Shahid, he was determined to learn how to stop and took a chill pill only after he had perfected the art. We are sure this is one ride he must have enjoyed!


Movie Review : Sarkar Raj

Sarkar Raj (drama)
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai
Direction: Ram Gopal Varma

THIS film carries the sequel forward without losing out on the gritty feel and retains the charisma of the central characters, mafioso leader Subhash Nagre (Amitabh Bachchan) and his son, Shankar Nagre (Abhishek Bachchan).

The Nagre duo that first emerged as the indigenous Corleone family on the Indian screen in Sarkar is still living with social sanction and unprecedented popular support despite being on the wrong side of the law.

The father has taken a back seat and left the business of governance to his son, who seems to have become more ruthless after killing his own brother (Kay Kay Menon) in Sarkar . But like his father, he has the welfare of Maharashtra at his heart and is hell bent on giving his state the multi-national power project which the NRI business executive (Aishwarya Bachchan) would like to set up in India. The power project turns out to be just a ruse for a change in governance and unleashes a whole nexus of wheelers and dealers who are determined to cut short the power reign of the Nagres. Time for the aging tiger to roar again and let loose his vengeance on those who dared to harm his family, his people....

Ram Gopal Varma gets back into the saddle after a spate of flops which affected his brand equity. He falls back on the subject -- gang warfare -- and the style of cinema he knows best. His camera follows the angles it excels in, plastering the screen with extreme close-ups of his protagonists. Of course, it does help when the faces in full view are extremely emotive and reflect the myriad emotions of anger, pain, passion and revenge with a mere muscle flick. The Bachchan trio -- Amitabh, Abhishek, Aishwarya -- emerge as consummate actors, imbuing their characters with nuances and shades not easily seen in mainstream cinema. But eventually, it is the structure of the film that succeeds above all else.

Ramu's characteristic dark brooding palette of shadow and light and his forte at laying bare the undercurrents of violence in urban society take you on a reassuring trip through familiar terrain.

Nothing experimental, nothing new; just a return to the tried and tested form which first raised its head in films like Shiva , Satya , Company , Sarkar ....Yes, you may have your quarrels with the ideology of the film and the validity it seeks to give to outlaws like Subhash and Shankar Nagre, but you will applaud the style and the performances.


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