varma reviews

Saturday, January 06, 2007

hindi cinema:

Sai and Shujath talk Cinema
Listen to our Ramblings

Home Index About jump to navigation Kaal January 4, 2007
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
Whenever I feel like writing about a crappy film I’ve seen in the past all I have to do is think of Vivek Oberoi…he’s starred in memorable duds which stay in your mind forever. Produced by Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan, Kaal promised to be a rocking suspense/horror flick (and some prominent reviewers felt it actually was) but in my opinion it is is one of the worst the genre has ever witnessed.

Debutante Soham who previously assisted Johar and Ramgopal Varma was touted to have blended the best elements of both schools of filmmaking with this film. Well, Varma’s Factory on its worst day can come up with a better horror flick and apart from flaunting cleavages there is nothing much similar to Johar’s films either. What I found really bad about this one is that it fails to adhere to even the simplest rule of a suspense thriller - If a certain person is explicitly portrayed to be the culprit then it is obvious that he/she isn’t the one. But to my suprise, here it was exactly the opposite. Probably the director was expecting a moronic audience to watch his film and so didn’t want to confuse them even a bit.

Oh..I forgot to mention the plot! All protoganists end up in a jungle where man-eater tigers are causing havoc. One by one everyone starts to die as the so called “mystery” slowly unfolds. Coming to the performances, Ajay Devgan as Kaali Pratap Singh is quite entertaining and reminds you a lot of the character “Bhulwa” he played in Rajkumar Santoshi’s Lajja. The other major cast comprising of Oberoi, John Abraham, Esha Deol and Lara Dutta have nothing much to do. The background score as well as the soundtrack by Salim-Sulaiman is the only saving grace.

BTW, the most hillarious part of the movie is that it actually has a potent message - Animal Conservation. If you are careless with animals, Kaal could happen to you!!! If you are still interested to watch this then see it along with a couple of friends with a good sense of humour….you might end up having a nice time watching this campy fare.

Kisna - The Warrior Poet December 25, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I know the tagline is very stupid but Subhash Ghai doesn’t seem to think so (I guess he believes bringing the pen and sword together is a neat idea). If Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge was the source of inspiration for Ghai’s Pardes then Lagaan and Gadar seem to have inspired him to make the horrendous Kisna (not to mention plot devices lifted from Hollywood flicks). He must have decided to make this film after watching these hugely successful movies that were incidentally released on the same day. I watched this movie a while back but I can recall the feeling of disgust till date.

The movie is a love story between Kisna and a British girl, Catherine, set during the pre-independence era. Catherine and Kisna share a bond from childhood and Kisna protects the girl from his own countrymen. The movie aims to be an epic emotional drama but ends up instead as laughable melodrama. I did expect at least an average movie from Ghai but after the first few minutes of the movie you realise that this is complete crap. Lofty goals don’t always translate into good movies and this movie is a good example. Apart from Ghai the other writers (Sachin Bhaumick, Farukh Dhondy and Margaret Glover) are equally responsible for this debacle.

The acting isn’t great either. Vivek Oberoi’s career took a nosedive with this movie (like Hrithik’s after Ghai’s previous film Yaadein) and rightly so. Considering the promise he showed in Ram Gopal Varma’s Company, this is a poor performance. Isha Sharvani makes a decent debut though she is relegated to the background. The English actress, Antonia Bernath does a neat job.

The music also isn’t as good when you consider Ghai’s track record alongwith the success rate of A.R. Rahman and Ismail Darbar. Rahman provides the melodious Hum Hain Iss Pal Yahan (undoubtedly the best number in this movie) but Ghai’s picturisation of the song (or the lack of it) leaves a lot to be desired. Darbar scores most of the songs and the title song scored by him is quite catchy. The dances in this movie featuring Isha are appealing. Ashok Mehta’s cinematography makes this movie visually pleasing.

Apart from a few positives, this is a lame attempt by Subhash Ghai to match his peers (or to ape them). It is high time that Ghai stopped looking to others’ films for inspiration and came up with something original. Everybody should stay away from this pathetic film.

Bhagam Bhag December 23, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
Of late I haven’t liked Priyadarshan comedies…with the exception of probably Chup Chup Ke. But the box office has mostly been kind to him. Given that, Bhagam Bhag should also be headed the same way.

This one’s yet again a comedy of errors and of course a Malayalam remake. The original was supposed to be a sequel to the original of Hera Pheri and in a recent interview Priyan said that he did not take Suneil Shetty (who happens to be the producer of this one) as it would give the impression that this was some sort of a sequel to Hera Pheri…as the sequel was already made earlier this year. Unfortunately, Shetty’s part was given to Govinda who definitely deserved more footage than almost being reduced to Akshay Kumar’s sidekick. If anyone wants to watch this expecting Govinda’s comeback then please wait for Salaam-e-Ishq.

The plot actually is much better if you compare it with the director’s previous ventures. Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar and Govinda are theatre performers who land up in London looking for a heroine to perform in one of their shows. Akshay comes across a suicidal Lara Dutta who agrees to be part of their troupe. An attempted suicide later, she regains her memory (which nobody knew was lost in the first place) and returns to her husband Arbaaz Khan. Moments later, she is killed. The mystery unfolds in the second half and as usual ends with a helter skelter climax involving the whole cast.

Apart from a few one liners, most of the funny moments are very forced. But as long as the audience doesn’t complain Priyan will have the last laugh. One place he has always succeeded is creating those mistaken identity chase situations and there are plenty of them here for those who enjoy it. Coming to the performances, all the usual suspects (Akshay Kumar, Rajpal Yadav, Paresh Rawal, Manoj Joshi, Shakti Kapoor etc…) are cast in their usual roles and they are as usual (good or repititive - you decide).

On the whole Bhagam Bhag didn’t amuse me much but at the same time didn’t bore me either. What you get here is exactly the same you’ve gotten before so if you’ve been enjoying this stuff before there is no reason you wouldn’t enjoy it now.

Mujhse Dosti Karoge December 10, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
This film was Kunal Kohli’s (Hum Tum, Fanaa) debut directorial venture produced by Aditya Chopra (co-written by the two of them). The plot is inspired by The Truth About Cats & Dogs. Hrithik Roshan plays Raj who has a thing for Tina (Kareena Kapoor) since he was a kid. He moves to London and tries to keep in touch with her. Tina is the selfish spoilt child who doesn’t care to reply. Pooja (Rani Mukherjee) likes Raj and she replies to his e-mails in the name of Tina. Once they grow up, Raj comes to visit India and Pooja asks Tina to act as if she wrote the letters and Raj feels he is in love with her. If you have seen enough Hindi movies, you can guess the highly predictable twists and turns.

Kunal Kohli’s direction and part of the writing is inspired from various films made by Sooraj Barjatya, Aditya Chopra and Karan Johar. However, he is raw and doesn’t know how to sell it to the audience yet. That makes a major difference to the fortunes of this film. His direction is very amateurish and partly lacking in attention to detail. Part of the dialogue is trite and the writing is quite stale. Lot of scenes give you a sense of deja vu (the death of the father to bring two people together was used by Karan Johar in Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham, the dosti versus pyaar stuff has been repeated in many movies, most notably Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Kareena’s entrance and character remind you again of K3G, some of the dialogue has been heard often and many many more). Though he improves with his next two movies (Hum Tum was decent, though heavily inspired, but not award worthy and Fanaa was utter crap like this one), I still don’t see him as a director to watch out for.

The acting department is heavily handicapped by the contrived characters and melodramatic dialogue. Hrithik Roshan is just passable while Rani is good. Kareena Kapoor is unbearable for most part. The best role actually goes to Uday Chopra in a cameo. He doesn’t have to overdo anything and he seems to be the only sane person among the four main characters. This isn’t a comedic character that Uday is used to but he still performs well.

The music by debutant Rahul Sharma (son of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, who provided music for many Yash Chopra movies with his partner Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia under the title Shiv-Hari). I didn’t find most of the songs appealing especialy with Lata sounding old. The only song that I enjoyed in the movie is Saanwli Si Ek Ladki apart from the medley. Lata’s voice is jarring on Kareena’s face. She shouldn’t sing for young girls anymore because she doesn’t deserve to hear complaints for someone so talented. Only A.R.Rahman seems to have gotten the best out of Lata in recent years. Maybe others should take some tips from him on when to use Lata.

I had fun watching this movie with some friends and laughing at some of the stupidity. That is one way to enjoy this film. If you are a teenager (or one who is still stuck in that phase) who is entranced by love and all that stuff, then you may find some parts of this movie appealing. Everyone else can safely skip this

Dor December 8, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
Nagesh Kukunoor has come a long way since his Hyderabad Blues and Rockford days. His dramatic films like Teen Deewarein and Iqbal were top-notch with the latter even being a success at the Box Office. He follows up those movies with the equally likeable Dor. The plot is based on a real life story that formed the basis for director Kamal’s Malayalam film Perumazhakkam. Kukunoor apparently bought the rights for that film before making this one but from what I have heard the his vision is quite different from Kamal’s.

Two women, Meera and Zeenat are the main protagonists of this film. While Meera (Ayesha Takia) lives in Rajasthan, Zeenat (Gul Panag) hails from Himachal Pradesh. These women are as different as the states they reside in. Both their husbands work in Dubai and share an apartment. Zeenat’s husband inadvertently kills Meera’s and the only way he can avoid the sentence is with Meera’s forgiveness (according to Dubai law). So Zeenat sets out in search of Meera. Can the independent strong-willed Zeenat get Meera, whose life has completely changed due to the incident, to pardon her husband?

The one thing that has been common to most Kukunoor films is simplicity and this one is no exception. It is refreshing to see that the Hyderabad-bred US-returned Kukunoor can make a simple yet powerful film dealing with the suppression of women as one of its main themes (he has touched on this theme in Hyderabad Blues and Teen Deewarein) in a completely rural North Indian setting. Kukunoor, as a writer is very focussed and his direction is uncluttered. His vision is lucid and shorn of embellishments. The depiction of Rajasthan in this movie is realistic yet beautiful and is quite a contrast to the astonishingly brilliant vision of Amol Palekar in Paheli.

Gul Panag and Ayesha Takia are exceptional in their roles. Considering that they do not have much acting experience, their performances are quite an achivement. Shreyas Talpade (Iqbal) plays a supporting role in the film and is successful in a comic role. Though some might find his role somewhat unnecessary, it does provide the necessary comic relief. The cinematography (Sudeep Chatterjee) and art direction (Muneesh Sappel) are notable because they support he director’s vision well. Salim-Suleiman provide the music for this film that has songs mainly in the background. Among these, I particularly liked Yeh Honsla.

This movie isn’t a particularly entertaining one in commercial terms but it isn’t boring either. The movie has its share of humor like Iqbal and an emotion-laced story that is well told. The film has found quite a few takers at the Box Office. Those looking for formulaic masala entertainers should skip this one while I recommend this to others that are interested in films that bridge the gap between art and commerce.

Dhoom 2 - Back in action November 25, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I didn’t have a very high opinion of Dhoom but I did find it entertaining in parts and could see why it became a big blockbuster. It was escapist action fare with some likeable humor and action sequences of a quality that wasn’t common in Indian cinema. I wasn’t too enthused when I heard about a sequel to Dhoom. However, the inclusion of Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai to the cast changed all that and I watched the movie at the first opportunity I got.

Dhoom 2 is much much better than its precursor. Director Sanjay Gadhvi, writer Vijay Krishna Acharya and producer Aditya Chopra aim higher with this sequel and they succeed. Gadhvi and Acharya improve on their previous work while Chopra triples his budget to support them. The basic structure is still the same for this movie. Hrithik plays an international thief called A and Abhishek Bachchan plays Jai, the cop who is after him. Uday Chopra reprises his role as Ali and he is now working for the police. Aishwarya plays Sunehri, a thief who wants to be Hrithik’s partner while Bipasha plays Shonali Bose, another cop. I don’t want to give away anything so I’ll stop there.

The first half of the movie is truly thrilling with some sensational action sequences. The introduction scenes for the actors are pretty exciting. The humor seems a bit forced at times but this half of the movie rolls out at a frenetic pace with more action than I expected and sets up a promising clash. However, the second half doesn’t manage to top the expectations that the first half generates. The lackluster attempt to create a plot in comparison to the focus on action and style before the interval brings the excitement down. Despite its drawbacks this movie isn’t as predictable as it predecessor and if you liked the original, you’ll definitely love this (you might like this even if you hate the original).

Hrithik is superb as Aryan and makes the stunts look more beautiful. Abhishek and Aishwarya are wonderful. Except for a couple of scenes, Aishwarya’s performance is good. Before the movie was released, there was a rumor that Aishwarya will be seen in a bikini. Though that doesn’t happen, I am sure I would have been a lot less surprised if that happened. The Aishwarya is this film is bolder than most would imagine. Uday Chopra makes sure he doesn’t get lost in the movie. From Uday’s first film, his brother Aditya has made sure that his strengths (body and comic timing) are utilized well. His comic timing is much better than more reputed actors like Vivek Oberoi and he delivers the laughs. Bipasha doesn’t get a great role but she does fine. John Abraham and Esha Deol aren’t part of the sequel but Rimmi Sen gets a cameo.

Acharya’s writing is partly inspired (not lifted as far as I know) by many flicks in the genre. Nevertheless, it is an improvement over his previous work. Gadhvi does a better job with the direction but he should have presented some scenes much better (an example would be the scene where Abhishek talks about the pattern in A’s heists which, to me, looked quite stupid). There are many contrived sequences in the film. The humor in the movie works but stops you from taking the movie seriously. The music by Pritam, like his work for its predecessor, is foot tapping but nothing extraordinary. Salim-Sulaiman’s background score is good. The theme used for Hrithik (part of the Dhoom Again song) is great. The choreography by Shiamak Davar (Dhoom Again) and Vaibhavi Merchant (Crazy Kiya Re) deserves mention. The make up in this movie is excellent as is the cinematography. The special effects are quite good except for few minor glitches (most notably the spiders). The main draw for the movie is the action by Allan Amin. He is definitely one of the best in Hindi cinema and deserves great praise. I am not sure if any of the stunts are lifted from Hollywood but to me they don’t seem to be.

Dhoom 2 is undoubtedly going to be a blockbuster and I would strongly recommend against overanalyzing this movie. If you are one of those who needs a good story, strong characters or logic, you can give this one a miss. If you are enamored by the cast and want to watch a fun film without engaging your brain too much, watch this. If you like the idea of watching high quality action sequences in an escapist flick, don’t miss this!
Sai and Shujath talk Cinema
Listen to our Ramblings

Home Index About jump to navigation Don - The Chase Begins Again November 21, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I saw the 1978 version of this movie starring Amitabh Bachchan when I was very young. I do remember the plot from that one but not the individual scenes, so my perspective of the new version is more or less like that of a fresh viewer. From what I had heard before I saw this film, most people who saw the original or are fans of Amitabh have not liked it very much but those who have not seen the original have found this film to be entertaining. I found the movie to be alright but nothing really great.

Don (Shahrukh) is a gangster that is wanted by police in 11 countries. DCP DeSilva (Boman Irani) is hot on his trail and manages to catch him. He replaces Don with his look-alike Vijay to get more information on the gang. In one of the numerous subplots Roma (Priyanka Chopra) is out for revenge against Don and manages to infiltrate his gang. Another subplot features Jasjit (Arjun Rampal) on the lookout for revenge against DCP DeSilva. Apparently director Farhan Akhtar and father Javed Akhtar (who wrote this film and was also part fo the writing team for the original with him famous partner Salim) have made changes to the original script which has not gone down too well with the fans of the original.

Farhan Akhtar introduces an excellent twist (which can be guessed if you are looking for it but most will miss it otherwise) towards the end that wasn’t part of the original. It might be possible that it was this very twist that led him to remake Don. Despite its new millenium look, its soul still feels old school. I would really have liked to see Farhan take the basic plot outline and shake it up completely like Ram Gopal Varma is trying with his Sholay.

While the twists and turns in the screenplay would have been quite appealing in the seventies, somehow the movie didn’t appeal to me as much. It is in part the effect of knowing the twists beforehand and in part the effect of watching too many thrillers. The main plot is actually quite interesting but it is the subplots and too many characters that mar the film to an extent. The writer and director focus a bit too much on the twists and forget that they still need to grab the attention of the audience.

Farhan makes a very slick looking film that would appeal to the younger generation. Some of the dialogue by Farhan reminds you of the seventies but that could be forgiven. Mohanan’s cinematography is notable and Malaysia works well for making a good looking film. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy have provided great music for Farhan’s previous works Dil Chahta Hai and Lakshya. The music for this film isn’t upto to the standards set by their combination but is still good (not really the popular variety). Two of the songs from the original (including Khaike Paan Banaraswala) are rehashed with other new ones thrown in.

Shahrukh is much better as Vijay than he is as Don but doesn’t do as well as expected. Underplaying would have worked much better for the role of Don. Priyanka isn’t very impressive but she isn’t bad either. Arjun Rampal is fine and Boman Irani is dependable as usual (he gets quite a good role). Kareena is quite horrible when you remember Helen in Yeh Mera Dil (she comes across as cheap rather than sensual and graceful) but otherwise she is passable. It is good to see Pavan Malhotra (from the TV series Nukkad and the telugu thriller Aithe, where he was fabulous) in a big movie. Om Puri is wasted in a small role. Isha Koppikar plays the girlfriend of Don and doesn’t get much to do really (though she is well incorporated into the script). Chunky Pandey and Sushma Reddy show up in special appearances.

The movie looks slick and is entertaining in parts with a lot of neat twists. However, it never manages to captivate you and isn’t as gripping as I would have liked. Nevertheless, it is a decent thriller that can be watched if you haven’t seen the original. If you have seen the original, you might want to catch atleast the climax of this one (and it has other interesting changes too).

Veer-Zaara November 16, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
Many people have told me how much they hate this movie and that aroused my interest. I finally caught this movie recently just to figure out what went wrong. Anil Sharma’s Sunny Deol starrer Gadar seems to have provided some inspiration to this movie. Being a Chopra production, the accent is more on romance and keeping in tune with the times, the movie tries to promote friendship between India and Pakistan. I found Gadar to be far more appealing. That movie was a masala entertainer that didn’t claim to be too much more. However, this one is thorough manipulative crap that aims to be called a classic.

The movie is about the romance between an Indian boy and a Pakistani girl like Gadar. The difference lies in the fact that the boy doesn’t get the girl and instead ends up in jail in Pakistan for 22 years for quite a dumb reason. After all those years, a female Pakistani lawyer tries to get him out. What happens after or, for that matter, before is quite boring and hackneyed.

The actors do a decent job of mouthing the long and cliched dialogue (Aditya Chopra). I really wouldn’t want to evaluate the acting because of my dislike for the roles that were portrayed. Though Shahrukh and Priety play the leads, the supporting cast including Rani Mukherjee, Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Manoj Bajpai, Kiron Khen and Divya Dutta are more likeable. The music is a mixed bag. Madan Mohan’s unused tunes are recreated by his son Sanjeev Kohli and at least half of them were very appealing (though some of them don’t appear in the final cut). I do wish that Lata Mangeshkar doesn’t sing anymore for young girls because it just doesn’t gel. The background score wasn’t very good except for the fact that it achieved its goal of accentuating the melodrama for most part. The attention to detail in diction and art direction (Sharmishta Roy) is praiseworthy. Cinematography (Anil Mehta) is good too.

Yash Chopra’s direction is decent but the writing (Aditya Chopra) is poor. Every aspect of the plot has been seen before. Everything is overdone and quite laughable. Girls falling in love after their engagement has been done to death since Aditya’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge. There are huge plot holes but you hope that the movie gets better (especially after the flashback ends and the court case starts) but it never does. I really felt like crying by the end of the movie not due to the emotiononal intensity of the movie but due to the contrived hogwash that just kept piling on till the end (and it reaches its peak during Shahrukh’s final speech). Watch this movie if you aren’t likely to be put off by an unimaginative melodrama that has nothing new to offer.

Paheli November 13, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
This movie is an overwhelmingly magnificent visual delight. Such spectacular use of colors, costumes (Shalini Sarna) and sets (Muneesh Sappel) is rarely seen. Hats off to Ravi K. Chandran for his cinematography and Amol Palekar (Daayra, Kairee, Anaahat) for bringing his vivid imagination to life. I was so enamored by the turbans in this movie (among other things). In recent times, I only remember such beauty in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies (as far as Hindi cinema goes) and this might be even better than those. For me this movie was totally worth it just for the visuals. I am sad that I didn’t get to watch this on the big screen.

The movie is Amol Palekar’s reinterpretation of Vijayadan Detha’s novel Duvidha. Critically acclaimed filmmaker Mani Kaul made the first version of this movie, Duvidha in 1973 (and won the National Award for it). This story has inspired another version in Kannada called Nagamandala that was based on a play by Girish Karnad (and features a snake instead of the ghost in this one).

The story is very appealing. Lachhi is married to Kishanlal, the son of a rich Rajasthani businessman. Kishanlal is a typical banya (reminds me of some peole I’ve seen) who is brought up to care only about business and money. The day after his marriage he is sent on a business trip. A ghost who has fallen in love with Lachhi takes his place when the opportunity presents itself. I wouldn’t want to reveal what happens after that.

Amol Palekar does a great job as the director but I did find some issue with the writing (Sandhya Gokhale). Some of the characters and situations seem forced. The soundtrack and background score by M.M.Kreem (Jism, Sur, Zakhm) is very good and enhances the movie. The visual effects (though limited) are quite good and don’t stick out like a sore thumb. Palekar extracts good performances from his cast. This is another performance from Shahrukh that is worth remembering after his work in Swades. He shows appreciable difference in the two roles and I quite liked his moustache. He deserves praise for the decision to produce this. Without him on board as producer, Palekar wouldn’t have got a similar budget to work with and we would have missed out. Rani looks beautiful and her performance is good too. The dependable supporting cast includes Anupam Kher, Juhi Chawla, Dilip Prabhavalkar, Rajpal Yadav and the voices of Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah. I felt that Sunil Shetty and Juhi Chawla were quite unnecessary but when you can have their services, why not? Amitabh Bachchan also throws in a special appearance towards the end.

The story might appeal to many but the movie is slow by mainstream cinema standards because the plot is really simple and the movie is more about enjoying the ambience. Anybody who can enjoy these visuals shouldn’t miss this for anything. For me, this movie is worth watching even without sound or subtitles.

Khosla Ka Ghosla November 11, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
This is a very pleasing film. It is a simple drama with lots of humor that caught me by surprise. The film is about a middle class family in Delhi. Khosla spends his entire savings to buy a plot and dreams to build a house there for the whole family to live in. Khosla’s plot is grabbed by Khurana who wants him to pay 50% of what it is worth to get it back. What the Khosla family does to try and get back the plot forms the rest of the movie.

The movie reminded me of Rajendra Prasad starrer Brundavanam (Telugu) which has a similar theme. The tit-for-tat idea isn’t exactly new but the way it is mixed with the middle class aspirations and the reality of land grabbing is brilliant. I have heard about land grabbing before but never thought about it. The movie gives you an idea about the process and a feel for how it affects the people involved.

The life of the middle class family is captured very well and that was very important for the audience to identify with this movie. Half an hour into the movie, I was already pulled into the lives of these characters and wanted more irrespective of the unfolding plot. Kudos to Jaideep Sahni (who is also credited as creative producer apart from writing) for creating the well-etched and believable characters. This is a welcome change in genre from Jaideep Sahni who has earlier written Company, Jungle and Bunty aur Babli. The exclusion of songs (except in the background) is a good decision and the length of the movie is just right. The debutant director Dibakar Banerjee deserves high praise for the way he moulds the movie and extracts performances from the cast. His attention to detail is notable in many scenes. His contribution is very important to this movie that could have become something else in the hands of a different director.

The acting is of high quality. Every actor performs well without exception. None of them overplay their roles and stay true to their characters throughout. Anupam Kher is outstanding as Khosla. The role does justice to his talent and he does justice to the role. Boman Irani comes up with another intelligent performance in a role that is similar to his role in Lage Raho Munnabhai. However, he makes sure that we don’t remember that character at all. Its nice to see Navin Nischol (Buddha Mil Gaya, Victoria No. 203) in a good role after a long time. Parvin Dabas (Monsoon Wedding) gets a good role that suits him well. Despite an ordinary role, Tara Sharma (Page 3, Om Jai Jagadish) delivers a performance that makes us sit up and notice her talent. The minute changes in her expressions in many scenes can’t be missed. VJ turned actors Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak and the rest of the supporting cast do a great job.

Most of the critics have liked this film and I can see why. Such movies were common about 2 decades ago but seem to have become extinct since. We need more movies like this and for that to happen, more people need to watch and appreciate it. If you are looking for conventional entertainment with fights, songs, dances and tears, you can keep away. I would highly recommend this to anyone who can watch a realistic tale laced with lots of humor that does not follow the traditions of mainstream cinema but fits within its confines.

Jaan-e-Mann - Lets Fall In Love…Again November 5, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
The not so interesting promos might have indicated what Sajid Nadiadwala’s magnum opus Jaan-e-Mann was - another schmaltzy romantic comedy. But as the opening credits appear with the backdrop of the moon’s surface and a spaceship in the vicinity you know it could be something more than that. The very next black-n-white Filmfare Awards sequence is even more wackier. And these visual and technological gimmicks are what make a stale plot into an eminently watchable film.

Salman Khan is the self proclaimed rockstar…no, it’s superstar - who needs 50 lakh rupees for a one time alimony settlement with his divorced wife Priety Zinta. In comes Akshay Kumar as the saviour with a halo - the astronaut geek who happens to be her long time lover. Salman and his dwarf lawyer uncle Anupam Kher now plan to get Akshay and Priety married to get rid of the alimony woes. They set up shop in front of her house (lifted from “Addicted To Love”) and then begins a Kal Ho Naa Ho style “How to woo a girl” lesson from Salman. Things seem to go fine at first but slowly Salman’s feelings for her are rekindled and discovering that he has a daughter from her; he wants to do an about turn and now longs to be with them. But it already is too late. What happens next is anyone’s guess.

It is not really this hackneyed plot where the movie scores but the unconventional use of the visual and musical medium to narrate a story. The melodious “Humko Maloom Hai” is definitely one the best filmed songs in Indian cinema. The other song which stands out is “Sau Dard” - soulfully rendered by Sonu Nigam and brilliantly filmed on a brooding Salman. The rest of the songs too look great on screen. Debutant Shirish Kunder - who is credited for background music score, story, screenplay, dialouges, editing and direction…whew!!! makes his mark in style. He is definitely here to stay.

Salman’s role seems to be written with him only in mind….it is delightful to see him back with his usual self-depracating humor and his heartfelt emotional performance in the later reels consolidates his position as the best male crybaby we have today. The scenes which he shares with the little baby (who in turn deserves full marks for her cute performance) are the pick of the lot. Askhay Kumar is too good as the geek and his onscreen bonding with Salman is great. His now famous “hey hey hey…” laughter never fails to bring the house down. Priety looks much more beautiful when compared to her recent movies and here she mostly has to look good and nothing else. The only reason for casting Anupam Kher as the dwarf was to accommodate those “bowna” jokes; otherwise it doesn’t serve any purpose.

The lowpoint of the film is the irritatingly extended family of Priety Zinta (which is probably intentional given the way Kunder was mocking at as well as revelling in Bollywood cliches throughout the film). Anu Malik is back in form after a long time. Farah Khan definitely reserved her best work for her husband. New York is captured quite well here unlike the recent KANK. The visual effects are totally seamless and are the highlight of this flick.

Unfortunately, this film hasn’t performed well but I hope this wouldn’t stop Kunder from some wild experimentation in his next. All in all, Jaan-e-Mann is a film one should watch without preconceived notions about how a film should be….you may or may not like it but will surely find the format interesting.

Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota……What If? November 4, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
When an actor of Naseeruddin Shah’s calibre decides to go behind the camera, the outcome is highly anticipated. Yun Hota Toh Kya Hota might not be a masterpiece but nevertheless doesn’t disappoint. Before the release it was being publicized as a film made in the backdrop of 9/11. After I saw the film I thought that was not required as it is misleading to an extent and in fact it could have acted as a nice plot twist to an unsuspecting viewer.

This is a multithreaded plot where unlike other such movies I’ve seen….the screenplay jumps between each of the subplots one scene at a time which means that as the viewer you won’t get impatient at any time. Among the subplots, the one featuring Irrfan, Suhasini Mulay, Karran Kapoor and Saroj Khan is what stands out like a sore thumb. Apart from being a bit interesting at times this one really was going nowhere.

My pick would be the Ankur Khanna-Ayesha Takia thread. Khanna’s character - the cycnic who is reluctant to go to the US for his studies and also has to deal with his feelings for his friend - is something I could relate to very much. The Paresh Rawal-Ratna Pathak Shah thread is funny and emotional at the same time. Rawal (who operates a business for which Daler Mehendi was implicated a few years ago) comes face to face with his long lost love when she seeks help from him for her daughter. The awkwardness in the ensuing interactions between these two right till the very end is too good. Finally, the Konkona Sharma-Jimmy Shergill thread rightly captures the anguish of a newly wed bride who has to surive her dysfunctional in-laws’ family while she waits for her husband (in the US) to send her the Visa papers.

This is a movie where the culmination of a story is not really important; but that the viewer truly feels for the protagonists as they move through it. So, people looking for well defined stories might not appreciate this. All the performances are quite nuanced and the casting is perfect.

Some of you might know that there was a controversy surrounding this movie after its release when the writer Uttam Gada disowned this movie and accused Shah of tainting a well written script. Whatever it may be, I still liked the end product (barring one of the plots as mentioned before) and this is surely one of the better movies to come out this year.
Sai and Shujath talk Cinema
Listen to our Ramblings

Home Index About jump to navigation Ghoom October 31, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
MTV created this spoof to the blockbuster Dhoom (with some other movies like Black thrown in here and there) and released it in theatres, apart from showing it on TV. This is the first instance of a complete spoof in Indian cinema that I can recall. Initially, I felt that MTV should be applauded for trying to attempt a movie in this genre. However, after watching the so-called movie (it might be called a short film with its 45 minute length and it is more like a TV show), I changed my mind. This is a very low quality production fit only for the television. I pity anyone who has watched this in the theatre. The movie is made for one and only one reason and that is to make the audience laugh. However, the gags fall flat for most part. I did laugh a few times but that wasn’t really enough. There was enough scope to make a decent spoof but the makers do a bad job. (Very) Few might find this funny enough, so watch it at your own risk!

Shiva (Udayam) 2006 October 30, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu, Hindi, Tamil. 1 comment so far
From the very first shot, the camera angles and movements, that I quite enjoyed, have the unmistakable stamp of Ram Gopal Varma. The unbelievably brutal daylight killing at the start of the movie sets the tone for the violent film that isn’t as commercial a film as Varma claims. I cannot understand what Varma wants to achieve by remaking Shiva. He says he wants to make a commercial action film. Neither the original Shiva, nor this one or even James has the commercial ingredients to appeal to a large number of people (James was quite boring by commercial Hindi film standards). The original Shiva is a classic and it worked because it was a fresh attempt within commercial parameters. It was very different from any of the films that the audience were used to seeing at the time. At its core, it had an interesting story to tell, apart from the technical aspects and the backdrop of college politics hadn’t been previously explored. The characters felt very real and the situations were very believable. However, the new Shiva is lacking in most aspects. The police backdrop was a bad idea because the good cop versus system idea has been done to death, so it isn’t fresh enough to appeal.

Initially, it seems that Ram Gopal Varma might have done what he said he would i.e. remake Shiva. He uses the scenes and conflicts from that movie initially, though superficially it isn’t the same. The problem is that the writers [Farhad-Sajid] miss almost everything from the original that made real impact on the audience. There aren’t enough exciting/shocking sequences, not enough characters that you care about, not enough scenes that stay etched in your mind, no actor to match the appeal of Raghuvaran in the negative role, no bubbly heroine to provide relief and more. As a fan, I find so many things missing in this movie, when compared to the original. If any real effort was put in, the writers and the director would have realised it too. Varma’s decision to okay the script and make this film seems highly impulsive. From a technical viewpoint, Ramu does well but that isn’t enough to salvage this film.

Varma’s obsession with Mohit Ahlawat is difficult to understand. He is not Bachchan. Hell, he is not even close to a raw Nagarjuna (Varma’s original Shiva) or even a raw Jagapathi Babu (Varma’s Gayam)! The faster Varma realises his folly, the better. That said, Mohit Ahlawat is better here than in James. These are the only roles that suit him and these movies have failed, so I don’t see too much of a future for him.

Nisha Kothari is eye-candy and her acting isn’t bad. Ranvir Shorey and Suchitra Pillai are good in their short roles. Ninad Kamat provides a couple of laughs and vanishes. Upendra Limaye, who plays Bappu and Dilip Prabhavalkar (Lage Raho Munnabhai, Paheli) play the bad politician roles. Prabhavalkar playing this role just after he is acclaimed as Gandhi is ironic.

The best thing about the movie is Ilayaraaja’s music. All the songs are new versions of his hits from his telugu and tamil films including one from the original Shiva. The pick of the lot is the Dheemi Dheemi/Manasa Adagava/Oru Naal Maalaiyil number. Shreya Ghosal just nails this song. The tune, orchestration, lyrics, singing - everything is good.
The background score obviously is good when the master is at work. The visuals of the songs are in typical Varma style, which is nice, but is becoming monotonous now. The cinematography (Amal Neerad) and action (Ram-Laxman) are other bright spots.

Ramu seems to have become too commercial and that is bad news for fans like us. Not enough time is spent on the scripting of his recent productions. Compared to the original Shiva and as a film by Ram Gopal Varma, this is poor. Otherwise this is an average film that is better than James.

Naksha October 24, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
When I heard about Naksha, I thought that it would be on the lines of National Treasure/The Da Vinci Code/Raiders of the Lost Ark. This is a genre rarely explored in Bollywood, so I was hoping for a decent movie. What you get instead is a film that is heavily inspired from The Rundown with some aspects from other treasure-hunt movies thrown in for good measure. This turns out to be an average Bollywood potboiler that might have worked 10 or 15 years back.

The premise is simple. It is the age old battle between good and evil. Taking a leaf from The Da Vinci Code and National Treasure, the plot is linked to the mythological epic, Mahabharata. The bone of contention is Karna’s armour (kavacha) and earrings (kundala) that made him invincible on the battlefield. The good is represented by Vivek and Sunny, playing step brothers while Sameera is included only to provide the glamour (and of course for the songs). The bad is represented by Jackie Shroff. The ugly is of course the writing, direction and the performances of those representing the good and the bad.

The movie isn’t as thrilling as i would have liked it to be. This isn’t a film where you should be looking for logic but some of it would really have helped. The narration and direction (Sachin Bajaj) are old school. There aren’t enough twists and turns in the script (Milap Zhaveri and Tushar Hiranandani) for a treasure-hunt film. This should instead be thought of as an action comedy.

The acting is poor really. Sameera Reddy is wooden in a role that has little for her to do. Jackie Shroff, who has done well as a villain earlier, hams at times and isn’t appealing. Vivek Oberoi doesn’t have the comic timing needed for his role. Sunny Deol is alright for the action sequences (Allan Amin), which aren’t particularly good. The wire-work isn’t impressive. The music isn’t very nice either.

On its own this film isn’t anything to rave about. As a heavily inspired version of Hollywood movies, it is poor. This is an avoidable film for those who have seen The Rundown or at least a few films in the treasure-hunt genre. This may make a decent watch for kids and for those who have primarily been exposed to Bollywood flicks.

Darwaza Bandh Rakho October 13, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
This is an amusing black comedy from Ram Gopal Varma’s Factory that never really becomes a laugh riot. A gang of four kidnaps the daughter of a rich man to make a quick buck but situations force them to take shelter in a Gujarati household by holding the members hostage. The fun starts when more people come to the house for various reasons and are also taken hostage.

Ishrat Ali, who plays the head of the Gujarati household, comes up with the best performance of the lot. Zakir Hussain, Divya Dutta, Kota Srinivasa Rao and Ravi Kale are dependable as usual. Manisha is hugely disappointing (pun intended). Isha Sharvani does well in the role of a dumb girl (though after watching Kisna I wouldn’t have thought that she would suit such a role). The other actors including the likes of Aftab Shivdasani, Chunky Pandey, Snehal Dabhi and Jeeva are fine.

Chekravarthy’s presentation adds to the movie and he does a decent job with the writing and direction. He is ably aided by the dialogue (Snehal Dabhi). The first few scenes grab your attention and show Chekravarthy’s prowess. The initial enthusiasm does drop a bit in the later stages. The length of the film is a plus. The movie has less slapstick and more logic than recent Bollywood comedies like Garam Masala and Phir Hera Pheri. So, those who enjoy slapstick more might not really find this to their liking. The basic premise is interesting and it is translated to an enjoyable movie but not one that I would rate highly. Nevertheless, it is a watchable comedy.

Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 3 comments
Eight years ago, Karan Johar made his debut with the much loved Kuch Kuch Hota Hai; most of us who would have seen it probably remember the line Shahrukh says when asked to define love…”Pyaar Dosti Hai” and the rest of the movie tried to hammer that point home. Well, the tide seems to have turned now…two minutes into KANK you have the same SRK sermonizing a would-be-bride about how “dosti” and “pyaar” are oft mistaken and the movie is all set to prove this newfound thesis.

The plot of this movie (as you would probably know by now) is about people stuck in bad marriages finding true love outside it. The basic problem of KANK is the bad marriage itself. For instance, the rift in the SRK-Priety relationship is due to the more familiar ego clash - successful career who doesn’t have time to spare for family vs comparatively less earning “loser” husband. This definitely wasn’t a case of no love lost between the two…atleast the way it is shown in the movie. The bigger problem is the Abhishek-Rani relationship - there is no justification provided for Rani’s behaviour throughout the movie. In fact her characterization is the biggest flaw of the movie - her role is conviniently written just to prove that friendship is not equal to love. I hated her all through the movie and was very happy when Abhishek leaves her towards the end. As for SRK, you do feel sympathy for him initially but his post-interval behaviour changes that. In recent times, I’ve never seen the words “bold” and “mature” so overused to describe a film like this. Believe me, if you watch this flick the culmination of events is quite pragmatic….though I wouldn’t agree with the way SRK and Rani’s personalities are elevated in the end….like some noble souls who have found true love with a small twinge of regret that they had to tread a path fraught with broken hearts. Also, SRK and Preity’s kid is conviniently forgotten while writing the climax - who would definitely have raised complications in this fairy tale like ending. But first things first…given the serious theme this still manages to be a very thoroughly entertaining film. Also, this is not as emotionally manipulative as Johar’s previous directorial venture K3G.

Coming to the performances, SRK goes into his extreme hamming mode (as in every Karan Johar film) but still is charming as always with his sarcasm filled lines. Abhishek gets a well written author-backed role and he is the only character in the movie you would feel sorry for. Preity is okay but Rani Mukherji is outrightly bad (more due to her ill conceived role). The surprise packet is Amitabh Bachchan and Kirron Kher who in similar roles previously have been quite irritating but they are really good here. Kajol makes the mandatory guest appearance. John Abraham has a similar appearance too…don’t know why. Arjun Ramphal’s bit role is something you would generally expect Suniel Shetty to play. Music and the background score by Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy are extremely good. Since this is a 40 crore Karan Johar film, all characters are filthy rich living in mansions and wearing gaudy clothes…thankfully they don’t commute by private choppers this time around; they somehow manage with their feet and trains. All said and done, this is a trademark Karan Johar film which you would definitely enjoy watching as long as you don’t really think deeper about the events happening on screen.

Anthony Kaun Hai October 9, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
Like his debut film, Pyaar Mein Kabhi Kabhi, Raj Kaushal comes up with another insipid offering. The movie is supposed to be a comic thriller. The thrills and comedy are conspicuously missing. This is a mistaken identity movie (where the mistaken identity isn’t that interesting anyway) that I would call a mystery more than a thriller or comedy.

This is a disappointing film from the crowd favorite combination of Arshad Warsi and Sanjay Dutt (Munnabhai M.B.B.S, Lage Raho Munnabhai). Sanjay Dutt’s role is primarily a special appearance while Warsi plays the key protagonist. The movie is apparently a rip off of “Who is Cletis Tout?”. Sanjay Dutt plays a hitman who is hired to kill Anthony. Arshad Warsi is mistakenly thought to be Anthony and his story is what the movie is really about.

The screenplay by Soumik Sen is one of convenience. The occurrences on screen are a result of commercial constraints and the fancy of the writer. There are a ton of loopholes that you don’t even want to think about in a movie like this. There are many sequences that neither contribute anything to the movie nor do they entertain (not to mention that they make much sense). The has some really lame dialogue. Raj Kaushal makes a nice looking film but apart from that his contribution is not of much consequence.

Warsi is watchable but he could do with a better selection of roles. Dutt is fine. Anusha Dhandekar is hot and Minissha Lamba looks good but they don’t add much value to the movie. It is nice to see actors like Ravi Baswani and Raghuvir Yadav.

The film starts off with a ridiculous fight sequence (that is thankfully short) and you start wondering if you made a mistake. And you are, of course, right. The forced love story between Warsi and Lamba is an insult to the intelligence of the audience and is probably the worst part of the movie. To add salt to your wounds, the movie isn’t funny. It doesn’t seem like it really intends to be. There is some mild humor in places but that’s about it. This is an avoidable movie
Zinda September 29, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
One of the most prolific freemake (remake without buying rights) specialists of Bollywood…Sanjay Gupta (Aatish, Jung, Kaante, Musafir) tries his hand again with a dark flick…this one being “inspired” from a Korean film called Oldboy. Zinda was somewhat critically acclaimed and was in news especially for its use of graphic violence - check out the teeth pulling scene with a claw hammer. Anyways, I checked this one out and in the end was somewhat disappointed.

The plot is quite interesting…Sanjay Dutt is imprisoned in a cell for 14 years and all he has in it is a TV set plus wanton soup to drink for every meal. One fine day he is released and now he has to find the person who did this to him and figure out why this was done to him. Until this point the movie is quite interesting…but from the point of introduction of John Abraham the movie goes somewhat on a downhill course. More importantly, the last few scenes where the motives of John’s character in doing this are revealed were totally unconvincing. I thought why the original Oldboy was so acclaimed and decided to read about the original plot….which was quite complex and bewildering…what Guptha tried to do was to “Indianize” the plot to remove the controversial portions from the original and this is why the movie seemed so unconvincing to me.

Coming to the performances, apart from Sanjay Dutt no one is worthy of mention. John Abraham is a total letdown. The music is ok…but the Strings soundtrack “Yeh Hai Meri Kahani” is brilliant. The camera work also is very impressive. This is a movie you can probably watch once without high expectations.

Raatri (Raat) September 25, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Telugu, Hindi. add a comment
If I were to choose one movie which definitively exemplifies Horror cinema…this would be it. When this movie was released some 15 years back…it was probably the first time that a mainstream filmmaker attempted a bonafide horror film…quite unlike the B-grade stuff which was usually associated with such type of movies.

Another striking point of this movie is that it contains both psychological scares as well as the usual gross out gore in right amounts….though I still think the last few reels were a letdown which is generally the case for any scary film. Some of the most memorable scenes are the ones involving the kid….whenever he enters the attic and the creaking door closes behind his back - amazing use of sound there (if you observe…Ramgopal Varma in both Raatri and Deyyam uses the premise that a kid is oblivious of what a ghost is and is never scared whatsoever) or the scene where the grandmother finds the kid playing with the cat who was killed a few moments ago. Of course, Revathi is unforgettable whenever she wears that spooky smile on her face (I used to try this look successfully later to scare my little cousins)….especially the first time she does it in the scene near the lake. Another unforgettable character is that of Nirmalamma….watch out for her introduction scene. I remember as a kid I watched this at Devi theatre in Hyderabad which at that time had a deadly 24 track stereophonic sound system….which was more than enough to scare the shit out of me….no horror film did that to me before or after. If you love horror then this is a must watch and if you don’t you’ll start liking this genre after watching this.

Lage Raho Munnabhai September 19, 2006
Posted by Sai in Hindi. add a comment
A sequel is generally about making money off the success of the original. Trying to match a successful film isn’t an easy task. More often than not you will fall into a trap. The raised expectations also add to the problems. So, when lots of critics and audience members said that this movie matches the original or betters it, I was curious.

This is a lovely movie. It grabs you from the first moment and holds you till the end. It is hard for me to believe that Gandhian principles are still implementable today. This movie might not have really changed my opinion on that but it did make me more optimistic. If the original Munnabhai was all about hope and positivity, this one is more so. It may be somewhat simplistic sometimes but that is required to provide hope. The audience was quite willing to accept this film as a fantasy but the writer-director, Rajkumar Hirani chooses not to go that way.

This is a hard movie to write. Touching all the issues that it does without faltering is quite an achievement. We have many intelligent directors and writers in the Indian film industry but none of them seem to spend enough time and effort on writing the screenplay (all movies from Ram Gopal Varma’s Factory have novel ideas but most of the recent ones not directed by him have faltered at the screenplay level). This is where Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijit Joshi succeed and everybody should take a leaf out of their book.

There is marked improvement on many levels over the original. The screenplay matches the original in terms of humor and plot. There are more capable performers in this movie apart from the ones in the original (who play different roles, considering that this is more a series than a sequel). Hirani does a better job with the direction. More money is spent and that shows on screen. The soundtrack by Shantanu Moitra is an improvement over Anu Malik’s for the original (not to say that it was bad - the peppy ‘Subah Ho Gayi’ track is reused here and the lyrics seem perfect for the sequel - “Ek Kahani khatam to duji shuru ho gayi mamu”). Also, the background score is very good. The lyrics by Swanand Kirkare (aided by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Farhad-Sajid) grab your attention with their wit and purpose.

Arshad Warsi steals the hearts of the audience once again with his performance as Circuit. Sanjay Dutt delivers another admirable performance as the loveable Munnabhai. Vidya Balan is beautiful and suits her role (quite a contrast to her role in Parineeta). Dilip Prabhavalkar playing Gandhi is a case of great casting. He feels very much like Gandhi. Boman Irani does not get as good a role as he did in Munnabhai MBBS but he as always is dependable. Some of the actors from the original like Jimmy Shergill, Kurush Deboo (the parsi doctor in the original) and Bomi Dotiwala (the carrom playing old man in the original is quite sprightly as Bomi in this one) show up in different roles here. Very capable performers like Parikshit Sahani and Kulbhushan Kharbanda are added to the cast apart from some stars like Dia Mirza. The old lady who plays Tina (Bomi’s childhood love) is very beautiful. I was transfixed for the little time that she was on screen. I’ve never seen a more beautiful woman that old.

I believe that the two Munnabhai films have reinvented the genre of feel-good films in India. Since Hum Aapke Hain Koun, all feel-good movies have been about love, family, celebrations or the cliched representation of Indian culture and values. I hope that more filmmakers go the Hirani way since we are bored to death with the rehashing of the same old formula feel-good films.

Munnabhai part 3 is apparently in the offing according to Hirani (, where Munna supposedly goes to America (to the White House even!). The audience definitely want to see this series go on (and so do I). We have to wait and see if Hirani can match these two movies (it is enough if he gets close).

The Angrez September 17, 2006
Posted by Shujath in English, Hindi. 1 comment so far
This hillarious film more than anything else will probably be remembered as the ultimate tribute to the Hyderabadi dialect. Yes..there is a plot too (and some lame performers) but it is of no significance as long as the “Ismail Bhai” gang is present on screen to crack you up over and over again with every line they utter especially the guy who plays Salim - he single handedly steals the show from every one else…I missed his name in the credits somehow. In fact, I found the actual story to be somewhat of an irritant…I wish it had revolved totally around the gang and its conversations.

The Hyderabadi dialect has been shown quite a few times in mainstream Hindi cinema but alas the guys spouting it were either Shakti Kapoor or Johnny Lever who could never do justice to the humor inherent in even the simplest of conversations….this movie amply capitalizes on this aspect is probably the only reason why it works big time. I am not sure if someone who isn’t from Hyderabad would enjoy this but if you are a Hyderabadi then there is no reason why you should miss this one. More good news is that there is a new flick called Hyderabad Nawabs which is playing and inherits the same cast from its predecessor.

Rang De Basanti - A generation awakens September 10, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. add a comment
Some people believe this is a great patriotic film but I disagree completely. It is a very good film and though patriotism is a recurring theme in the movie, I don’t believe it is the main theme. The main idea in the movie is that passion can drive youngsters to do things that even they never imagined possible. Patriotism and what youngsters achieved in the Indian freedom struggle is what stirs the passion in the protagonists and awakens their social consciousness. This movie is more about passion and social consciousness than it is about patriotism (the songs Roobaroo and Khoon Chala echo this well). The Bhagat Singh documentary allows for a very interesting narrative (and of course patriotism in a commercial format brings in a large number of viewers in any case). The superlative screenplay (by Renzil D’Silva and Rakesh Omprakash Mehra based on a story by Kamlesh Pandey) and narrative is what raises the movie from being a simple revenge drama to something with meaning.

The climax which was not liked by some was definitely good. Though a couple of other ideas might have worked, this was probably the best. It provides different viewpoints (whatever their merit) very well. Siddharth’s speech at the end clarifies that they do not believe that what they have done is the right or the best thing to do but they did it and they stand by it. This is what passion does to people. It makes you do things that seem foolish or meaningless to many others. The recent death of the famous Australian “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin is a good example of this. His passion led him to do things that were seemingly stupid to many but that did not stop him from risking his life. His eventual death was something that he foresaw and he apparently mentioned in interviews that he would not mind dying doing what he loved best. A far simpler example would be this blog. This blog may seem like a waste of time to many but our passion for cinema keeps us going inspite of our busy schedules.

Many people wonder why the movie is called “Rang De Basanti” which means “Paint (it/me) Yellow”. Yellow is apparently the color of sacrifice (so the phrase would mean “sacrifice me”) and that was apparently the reason that this became a catchphrase during the freedom struggle.

Among the actors Siddharth (former assistant director under Mani Ratnam who acted in movies like Boys, Yuva/Ayudha Ezhuthu, Nuvvosthanante Nenoddantana) was a revelation. His performance was my favorite in the film. Aamir Khan gets a role that suits him very well and he does a superb job. He does not hog the screen space unlike in some other movies and he deserves an applause for not letting his image or obsession about the length of his role destroy the screenplay. Atul Kulkarni is as usual first rate. Soha Ali Khan gets to show some of the talent inherited from her mother. Sharman Joshi, who I did not have much regard for does a very competent job and Kunal Kapoor is talented as well. Madhavan is likeable in a cameo (except for his hideous wig).

The soundtrack is exceptional. A.R.Rahman gets the chance to score for a good movie after Swades and he does a remarkable job. Every song is brilliant (though a couple of songs are too unconventional for certain listeners). Lyricist Prasoon Joshi deserves equal praise for creating beautiful and meaningful poetry and it certainly makes Rahman’s work even better. The cinematographer Binod Pradhan also deserves special mention.

Rakeysh Mehra does an admirable job as the director. He delivers on the promise he showed in his first film Aks. Mehra does a thorough job on the detailing and brings out best from the crew, whether it is behind the screen or on the screen. My favorite part of the movie is the splendidly depicted friendship between the central characters. Rarely have we seen such camaraderie between friends in Hindi cinema (Dil Chahta Hai is the first movie that comes to mind in this aspect). Mehra crafts a film that has now achieved cult status. This movie has the ingredients to appeal to different classes of the audience and any film lover should watch it.

Deewane Huye Paagal September 6, 2006
Posted by Sai in Hindi. 1 comment so far
This movie is inspired from There’s Something About Mary which is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen. However, this one isn’t nearly as good (actually it doesn’t even come anywhere close). There is no scope for the raunchy humor from that movie, so there are less gags here and they are not very funny. There are more characters after the girl here. Some of the new additions generate humor while others do not. The villains added to the movie to allow for some action (most probably at producer Firoz Nadiadwala’s behest) add unbearable content to the movie that takes up a lot of screen time too. We have already seen the flying motorcycle routine in Awara Paagal Deewana, so there’s no freshness to that even as camp.

Vivek Oberoi (who hasn’t really been able to repeat his excellent work in Ram Gopal Varma’s Company) is terribly irritating as the narrator who keeps popping up from time to time (compare this to the idea of the singers who periodically sing about Mary that was highly likeable in the original). Anu Malik was originally supposed to do this job (imagine that!). Shahid Kapoor really got onto my nerves as the film progressed. The characterization is more to blame than his performance (which is nothing to rave about anyway except for his dancing). Paresh Rawal as always is dependable and so is Akshay Kumar. Sunil Shetty and Rimmi Sen are decent. Vikram Bhatt (who has never really impressed me) directs this one with what seems to be a lot of interference from Firoz Nadiadwala (Yes! The belly dancers show up in this one too). On its own, this is an average comedy that does not generate enough laughs considering its screen time. As a remake of There’s Something About Mary, this is horrible. You may find this funny if you haven’t seen the original. Awara Paagal Deewana (from the same team) was far better (humor + camp). Among the recent comedies, I would recommend Priyadarshan’s Garam Masala or Malamaal Weekly over this one.
Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (Premalayam) September 5, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I love to sing. I love to dance. I love to play and have fun without working. I would love to tease girls and romance them. So what’s not to like in this movie. I really am serious. This is like a great fantasy movie for the child in me. I know that everyone is too good to be true in the movie but its fantasy! As a kid I enjoyed it greatly and even now there is enough to keep me entertained.

The movie starring Salman Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Mohnish Behl and Renuka Shahane has a simple story. So, if you are looking for a story, then there isn’t much here. It has nice sets, attractive costumes and good looking people accompanied by good music (Raam Laxman), humor, fun and romance. If this description appeals to you, then you will probably like it. The actors are very likeable especially Renuka Shahane and her infectious smile. Sooraj Barjatya (screenplay and direction) does a commendable job with this one because even though some people may not like it (mainly guys), it has to be accepted that this one movie changed the face of Hindi cinema. Barjatya really created the market that the Chopras and Johars are tapping into till date. This movie is mainly for family audiences. Those who want realistic cinema or thrills should keep away.

Golmaal - Fun Unlimited September 1, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
The tagline has “fun unlimited” but the movie doesn’t quite live up to its name. I did read a lot of good reviews for this one but I differ with them. I only found the movie interesting in parts and works mainly because of Arshad Warsi’s one liners.

The premise was interesting though…I don’t know if it is a lift of some other movie or not….4 men enter a blind couple’s home who mistake one of them to be their grandson and then the fun begins….but in very limited doses here and there….pick of the lot are of course Arshad Warsi and Sharman Joshi. Tusshar is good because only because he plays a dumb guy in the movie and Ajay Devgan has improved a lot when you compare this to his previous comic roles. Paresh Rawal doesn’t have much scope. The title track of the film is really good but the rest are average. On whole I would rate this film to be just about okay and you might watch this once if you have nothing better to do.

36 China Town
Posted by Shujath in Hindi. add a comment
Well, this is the third Shahid Kapur film to feature here in the last 4 days anyways, this supposed comic-thriller directed by men in white Abbas-Mustan and produced by Subhash Ghai disappoints in the both the “comic” and “thrill” department. If you seen a murder mystery before, then you can figure out what the outcome of the this movie is in the first few reels.

The plot is the same old one… woman murdered….some 8-10 suspects…and one smart detective to solve the case. The most ridiculous portion of this movie I found was that the dead body is somehow fit into a normal VIP suitcase (though they never show the front view of it)….that’s some cinematic liberty! Even with the stale plot there was enough scope to make this one “comic” but somehow the filmmakers even fail in this department. The comedy track featuring Paresh Rawal and Johnny Lever is jarring. The look of the film is very sleek and the music by Himesh Reshammiya is amongst his better scores in recent times. The performances by Akshay Khanna and Shahid Kapur are good but the supporting cast irritates a lot. Though it won’t really hurt watching this movie you can very well do without it.

Chup Chup Ke August 31, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I did not expect much from this movie since it flopped but checked it out hoping for some good Priyadarshan style comedy. However, I found this movie surprisingly likeable. This is neither an epic love story nor a laugh riot but it has a bit of everything. This is a Priyadarshan remake of the Malayalam hit Punjabi House that was written and directed by Meccartin Raffi who also made Thenkasipattanam (Hanuman Junction in Telugu) that was remade into many languages (Punjabi House was also remade into telugu by Kodi Ramakrishna as Maa Balaji with Vadde Naveen, Maheswari and Laya).

Shahid Kapur is more likeable in this movie compared to Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi. There is some scope for the display of Shahid’s dancing skills in the group songs and he looks good in them. Kareena Kapoor looks good (generally I don’t like the way looks and acts but here she was fine) but this is not really a role with scope for acting though she plays a dumb girl. Neha Dhupia surprisingly gets a meaty role almost on par with Kareena, and she does a good job without taking her clothes off (she looks quite nice in the shalwar kameez). The rest of the cast include Priyadarshan favorites like Paresh Rawal, Rajpal Yadav, Om Puri, Sunil Shetty and a host of others. As usual Paresh Rawal and Rajpal Yadav are key to the comedy in the movie. Sushma Reddy plays a cameo and performs better than what she did in Chocolate. This movie appeals visually with nice sets and costumes. The music is not of the popular Himesh Reshammiya variety (he sings only one song in the album) but isn’t bad. I particularly liked the Tumhi Se song which was also picturised well. Some of the dramatic scenes (that thankfully do not get overly melodramatic) could have moved faster. Particularly, the start, which was slightly slow and depressing could have been better. This is a movie aimed at the family audiences and they should enjoy this.

Vaah! Life Ho To Aisi August 27, 2006
Posted by Sai in Hindi. add a comment
I watched this movie after multiple critics said that this was an enjoyable kiddie movie. However, I beg to differ. This movie was supposedly a mix of Mr India and comedies featuring Yamraj. The main protagonist being responsible for a bunch of kids is what resembles Mr India. However, the kids serve no real purpose in the movie (apart from the fact that the kids in the audience might get excited). The attempt at humor with the kids and Shahid in the initial parts of the movie is lame and the dialogue is artificial. The movie drags for a bit till the introduction of Sanjay Dutt as Yamraj. Also the introduction of another kid to keep Shahid company was totally unnecessary (except of course for the target audience). Some people seemed to like the overly emotional Yamraj but I found it kinda stupid. The best part of the movie for me is the cameo by Arshad Warsi and some of the scenes featuring Sanjay Dutt. Mahesh Manjrekar (who I think is overrated) gets points for an imaginative depiction of Yamraj and the visual effects were decent but thats about it. Shahid is not adept at comedy but is bearable. Amrita Rao does not have much to do in the movie. Suhasini Mulay is wasted. This is a bad movie. If you want to watch a movie with lots of kids, watch Mr India again, where the kids actually have something sensible to do. If you want to watch a comedy featuring Yamraj, watch the telugu flicks like Yamaleela and Yamagola or their Hindi remakes. Kids may find it somewhat entertaining but everyone else can safely avoid this one.

Omkara August 26, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Hindi. add a comment
Probably, the best reviewed Hindi film in recent times, Omkara is Vishal Bharadwaj’s third mainstream attempt after Makdee and Maqbool. I definitely liked the film but I would not agree with many of the reviews which have gone overboard in praising the film. I feel this is similar to what happened for last years Black. When an average cinegoer fed continuously on the crap churned out by Yash Raj and Co suddenly comes across a better product he/she seems to get very vocal and sings paeans for it to show their “liking for good cinema”.

As for the plot, it is an adaptation of Shakespears’s Othello - which by now is known to everyone whether they have heard of Othello or not before. Coming to the movie itself, the major strength of this is its cast except probably for Viveik Oberoi and Bipasha who look a bit out of place. Also, the dialogue is smart and witty…aided very well with the ample use of expletives….though some of it went over my head because of the dialect spoken in the film. I think it would have probably been a better idea if the same plot was adapted to an urban setting…at least in terms of box office receipts.

Ajay Devgan sleepwalks through his role. Saif gets the meatiest portions and lines and he does it with style. The guy who plays Saif’s friend was also very good. The rest of the cast also performed quite well. The only downside is probably the pacing, but it is in tune with the plot.

On the whole, this is a very well made film by Vishal Bharadwaj (similar to his previous ventures) which you can definitely watch….but don’t have bloated expectations about it.
Raja Hindustani August 24, 2006
Posted by Sai in Hindi. 1 comment so far
According to me, this is one of the most overrated movies of Hindi cinema and also one of its crappiest. I know that movies can appeal to certain audiences and not to others. I can see this movie running in B and C centers but I still can’t believe that this one was a big success. After watching this I happened to develop a distinct hatred for the director Dharmesh Darshan who has since churned out more crap in the form of Mela, Haan Maine Bhi Pyar Kiya Hai and Bewafaa. Lets not even talk about the performances. This is the movie with which I started developing a dislike for Aamir (and a feeling that he is overrated). The comedy track makes it feel so much like a bad B-grade movie. After the long and stupid kissing sequence, you feel like running away but you don’t because you see that Karisma is running away herself after kissing Aamir for two minutes and its time to laugh your guts out. The cliched characters coupled with the unrealistic love story and emotions add upto to a disgusting experience. We have seen better versions of this movie since the sixties. So I don’t see any reason why anyone accepted this BS in the nineties. I would not recommend this movie to anyone.

My Wife’s Murder August 15, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Hindi. add a comment
This is one of the very few quality products from RGV’s Factory (apart from his directorial ventures). Though it did not work at the box office (as expected), there are lot of good things to say about it.

Contrary to what the title or posters might suggest, this is not really a murder mystery…but is as gripping as one. The biggest strength of this enterprise is that the premise is very believable. What if someone accidentally causes the death of his wife during a regular squabble? Would you call the police and try to explain the situation or would you take a chance and try getting away from it? In this case Anil Kapoor (who comes up with a brillant portrayal of a middle-class video editor) takes the tough way out. To what extent he succeeds or fails makes up the rest of the movie.

Coming to the performances….apart from Anil Kapoor, Boman Irani as the inspector was too good….I thought it was his best till date. Screenplay and Direction by Jijy Phillip is impressive…who unfortunately followed it up with an unimpressive episode in Darna Zaroori Hai.

This is a great watch if you like thrillers and realistic cinema.

Swades - We, the people August 13, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 3 comments
Another movie which I can’t stop raving about. It makes me very sad that this didn’t even get a quarter of the due it actually deserves.

The story about an NRI coming back home and doing good things is probably quite dated and must have been seen many time over. But that’s where everyone made a mistake about Swades….this had 3 things which others didn’t….Ashutosh Gowariker, Shahrukh Khan and A.R. Rahman and thats what made all the difference. The beauty about Swades is that it is simplistic to the core and hence very believable unlike others in the same genre. People have complained of it being very slow and preachy…..hell..this wasn’t supposed to be a thriller and btw it wasn’t even half as preachy as Rang De Basanti.

There are some sequences in the movie which stay back with you and haunt you long after it is over….especially the complete sequence of SRK taking different means of transport to collect money from a hapless farmer…the train scene when the kid sells him a glass of water and the very poigant and inspiring scene when he is travelling back on a boat and has a sense of realisation of what he has to do all accentuated by Rahman’s awesome background score. Another one to relish is the dam building sequence…I’d give complete credit to Rahman for this one…simply awesome.

To tell you the truth, I had a very uneasy feelings of guilt inside me once I finished watching this movie and I had this for quite a few days until I slowly forgot about it. And everytime I watch this…it gets back to me. I live in a completely different world worrying about silly things like having a job or not….completely ignorant about millions of other people who struggle to survive every moment. Probably the only thing I am able to do is to feel helpless about the whole thing

Coming to the crew, this was Ashutosh Gowariker’s next after Lagaan and all I can say is that he has simply outdone himself. As for SRK, you should watch this one to believe why he is King Khan. I’ve already said enough about Rahman…..easily among his best scores - music as well as the background.

I think everyone should watch this with an unbiased mind without being fooled by the likes of Taran Adarsh and come to their own conclusion.

Tailpiece: What hurts me most about Swades’ debacle is that during the same time Yashraj and Co made a piece of shit called Veer-Zaara with SRK (at his worst) which went on to become a blockbuster

Being Cyrus August 12, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, English, Hindi. 1 comment so far
Really cool movie….especially the first 30 minutes is really gripping and raises your expectations really high; though as the plot unfolds towards the end I felt a little disappointed but on the whole a great watch.

All performances deserve special mention…especially Boman Irani, the guy who plays his father, Naseeruddin Shah and Saif. Debutant director Homi Adajania successfully weaves a gripping tale which only probably loses steam a bit towards the end.

Coming to the plot it’s about a guy who enters into a dysfunctional Parsi family and the plot slowly unfolds from there. One more thing I loved is Salim-Sulaiman’s background score which is simply brilliant. Also, the title sequence was impressive. If you appreciate dark and weird thrillers then, this one is a must watch !

Fanaa - Destroyed in Love
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I should have taken heed of those reviews and stayed away from this. But this went on to become the biggest hit of the year (before Krrish and KANK arrived). The first half was the worst first half I’ve seen in a long long time. God knows what Kunal Kohli was thinking. Though the whole movie is crap, post-interval portion seems like a masterpiece when compared to the first half.

I don’t know what made Aamir and Kajol do this film. In fact Aamir was looking so disinterested in the whole movie…perhaps he realised his mistake in signing the film but it was too late I guess :).

The only good part of the movie is the background score by Salim-Sulaiman. These guys are getting really good at this. Of course, no need to mention that since this is a Yashraj film you’ll always get to see generous doses of cleavage.

After the tongue-in-cheek Hum Tum, Kunal Kohli became one of the most overrated directors in Bollywood. Fanaa falls into the same league as his debut “Mujhse Dosti Karoge” (which btw I couldn’t even watch). Unfortunately, since this has gone on to become a blockbuster we’ll have more of him in the future.

Krrish August 11, 2006
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu, Hindi. 2 comments
Hrithik Roshan is SUPER. As far as I am concerned, the money I spent on this was totally worth it just for the action sequences and Hrithik. If you think that this movie drags then so do Superman and Superman Returns by the same standard. However the underlying emotions in this movie don’t seem as believable as those movies. There is melodrama in this movie that could have been easily avoided. The first half just gets onto your nerves with its lacklustre songs and melodrama. The second half is more interesting and the twists make up for the boring first half. The excellent dances that we expect from a Hrithik movie are really present in only one song.

The good thing about this flick is that the makers did not exactly lift sequences from Hollywood superhero movies. There definitely are inspirations in this movie that range from Hollywood (Minority Report) to supposedly Bollywood (an old Joy Mukherjee flick according to Subhash K Jha) that should have been avoided. I’ve heard some of the desi audience say that the stunts are like those in Hollywood movies. The action sequences (Siu-Tung Ching also known as Tony Ching Siu-Tung who has choreographed for Hero and The House of Flying Daggers) are more Chinese than Hollywood. There is wire work in most action sequences than graphics (The Chinese are the pioneers in wire work and are responsible for actions sequences in Hollywood movies like the Matrix Trilogy). Hrithik adds greatly to the action sequences. Being an excellent dancer, he brings a grace and believability to the gravity-defying action sequences that make them more beautiful. The rest of the cast is forgettable. Priyanka Chopra who showed promise in Bluffmaster isn’t as good here. Naseeruddin Shah and Rekha add to the star value of the movie and not much else. The music is mediocre and repetitive.

It is true that this movie could have been so much better but it isn’t and what it has is good in parts. This is not a movie for the thinking audience. Kids will love this movie while the Intelligentsia, pseudointellectuals and Hollywood-obsessed folk will not enjoy it as much. There will always be those who will ask why is he flying (actually he doesn’t). If you enjoy action sequences or like Hrithik and are willing to discount its flaws, this movie is for you.
Lucky - No Time for Love August 11, 2006
Posted by Shujath in Movies, Reviews, Hindi. 1 comment so far
I know…most people consider this to be a dumb movie but I just love this one. Prime reason being Salman’s electrifying screen presence…and that’s what makes him a superstar. I consider it’s soundtrack by Adnan Sami to the best which came out in 2005 but unfortunately never got it’s due at those award functions. Ditto for the song picturizations.

Though it gets boring at times….you wound’t complain if you are a Salman Khan fan. Frankly speaking, this was his best movie in recent times…and his chemistry with Sneha Ullal was too good.

I love the opening scene of the movie in the garden which was kind of inspired from Elijah Woods’ intro in Lord of the Rings. Also the scenes in which Salman keeps teasing Sneha are really cute. Every song is a gem….in fact one of the very few movies in recent times where songs don’t act like a speed breaker. But all said and done…..yes, the movie was silly and dumb….but dumb things are good to watch sometimes.

Kshana Kshanam (Hairaan)
Posted by Sai in Movies, Reviews, Telugu, Hindi. 2 comments
If I were to list one movie as my favorite, this one would be it. This movie was released when I was 10 and this was the first movie that made me think about cinema. For the first time I understood what the purpose of a director was. For the first time I was really aware of things like shots, cinematography, editing, screenplay, background music and so on. I realised movies were not about stories. My love affair with cinema had started.

Coming to the movie, there is so much that one can talk about. First and foremost is Ram Gopal Varma (my favorite director) who wrote and directed the movie. His inventiveness, vision and direction is visible in almost every frame in the movie. The bank robbery and the following chase at the start of the movie makes you realise that this is a director’s movie and that this director is different and way ahead of most others in terms of creativity, imagination and technique. The performances by Sridevi and Paresh Rawal were unforgettable. The soundtrack as well as the background score by Keeravani still sounds fresh today. The humor in the film is unlike the slapstick that was prevalent in Telugu films at the time (and even today to a large extent). Situations like Satya and Chandu introducing themselves and shaking hands after being on the run for a while, Satya and Chandu crossing over from one balcony to the other, Satya scolding Chandu while Nayar is waiting to know where his money is and many more show what humor is all about. The characters ranging from Satya to the “kindinti Uncle” were all realistic. Satya’s conversations with her mother on the phone, the auto driver, with her colleague in the office, with Chandu in the jungle when she gets scared and many more are remarkable and seem straight from life. There is so much to discuss about this movie that I could do a feature length commentary, but I will stop for now.

It has been written sometimes that this film was loosely-based on “Romancing the Stone” or “Bird on a Wire”. However, this film has no resemblance to those movies except that it belongs to the same genre along with many other movies.


Post a Comment

<< Home