Sunday, February 14, 2010

MY NAME IS KHAN



I don’t know what Karan Johar exactly had in mind while writing and making this film. Maybe He wanted to make a ‘real’ film. A lot more ‘natural’ style of film-making he wanted to adapt perhaps.


Because till about 2/3rd of the film, My Name is Khan has everything going for it very well. The K-JO ingredients are very much there, but with a touch of groundedness we don’t really associate with him.

Its almost decidedly restrained, but works very well. The humour is charming, not the loud-types.


The film is very well made on a basic level, and the other aspects never interfere the narration. The Camerawork and Sets work so well in the background, without trying to draw your attention.

And above all, there is a general feel-good vibe about the environment which keeps a smile on your face.


Rizwan Khan is what keeps you hooked. His character is the soul of the film, and what infuses life in this soul is Shah Rukh Khan’s terrific performance. SRK isn’t loud for a change, and his sheer sincerity looks through. These 2 Khans is what ties the film together (until Johar decides to get to the point, that is)


The writing is remarkable for a large part of the film. I liked the fact that There *WAS* an English family who didn’t turn their back to Rizwan and Mandira even after the turning point. Even their son is only angry on the surface, but deep down cares a lot for his mate Sameer.


The ‘Rizwan in custody’ sequence is what stunned me the most.

Its so capable of creating sheer melodrama on screen but is treated in such so well in an under-stated manner and even with a dash of humour (‘They didn’t let me even repair the AC’.. that defines Rizwan Khan in a sentence :) that for a moment I was shocked to realize I am watching a Karan Johar film!!

But where the film unveils its weak cards is when the film sets out to release SRK. Played out too hurriedly, its disheartening to see everybody turn “bad-to-good” and all it takes a line of preaching from someone.

Everybody from a small towner somewhere in India to A Muslim shopkeeper in US to The US President himself is rooting for Rizwan, and there I lost interest in it.


Everything looks so out-of-the-place henceforth, and I just couldn’t stay connected with the film anymore. Add to that the overdone sequence of the entire Georgia fiasco where everyone comes down following Rizwan.

I wondered if this was assigned to Raju Hirani, what magic he could have created. But Johar looks quite comfortable trying to “preach”.


And somewhere in the plot there’s also the angle of ‘Mandira-wanting’justice’. It wants to make a valid point perhaps, but sadly I was too unengaged by then.


The fact that the film feels too long in the 2nd half at times isn’t a flaw as such, but only adds to the uncomfortable position the film had put me by the time it reached its climax.


So What I eventually carried with me is the landmark performance by Shah Rukh Khan. Its in a league of his own – standing proudly up there with Hrithik In Koi Mil Gaya and Rani in Black. Karan Johar may have lost his way, but SRK never does.. and its an unbelievable experience to see him perform in such an internalized manner. [:)]


And for him alone, This film is a memorable watch. Also for Karan Johar’s 2nd sincere attempt in a row on a road-less-travelled. Only if He had his approach clear and confident. :)


On other notes :


I just couldn’t love Kajol the way I do usually. She was great in 1st half (esp. in the light moments – her natural self) but there on seemed to make an effort to act (esp.the outburst scene) And that’s so not her forte :)


I was both happy and sad to see people like Arjun Mathur, Jimmy Shergill and Vinay Pathak in a K-JO film, yet getting wasted. Sonya Jehan managed to make the best of it.


The dialogues are really impressive, and I mean GENUINELY impressive. Particularly loved the conversations Rizwan has with the people on his ‘Journey’.


So Many brilliant scenes I got to see, but will take away the one where Rizwan explains why their Allah will never wish for an innocent’s death. (Hats off, Shah Rukh.. Love you! :)


And many more - The Jail scene (as mentioned earlier).. ‘Time of death.. 8..0..5’.. the entire ‘Noor-e-Khuda’ sequence… These are gems I will go for the 2nd watch to re-cherish :)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

RGV'S Back! :Rann






Okay, so cheer up RGV fans! (not so loudly though). The man has finally realized there's a vast audience outside his factory too who watches his films. So offering a backseat to his self-indulgence, Varma has finally catered to the audience.

And the resulting Product is 'Rann'



Agreed, the bizarre camerawork still exists (zoom in and then a quick zoom out before you can actually say 'zoom in'). Same for the shadowy images and dialogue that's more of socio-philosophical arguments.
Yet, Rann is a film that is enjoyable on a general level too. You don't really need to be a RGV fanatic to like this one (though it will only help if you are one).


Before you get me wrong, Rann is not a perfect movie, neither on script level nor by execution. But it keeps you pretty much hooked. You ARE reminded of certain films at times (Madhur Bhandarkar’s sagas mostly besides his Sarkar movies) but then finally, this film manages to stand on its own.


I must say it couldn’t weave the story too well around its theme (like LUCK BY CHANCE did so beautifully).
But maybe I am just trying to nitpick because, you know, I am not really supposed to go ballistic praising a RGV film. He just can’t make such films anymore, many think after all.
But for those who loved the Sarkar movies, this should be quite a treat too.



Personally speaking, I was not so happy with the final 20 minutes. The content was predictable, so I expected better direction there.




Emotionally too, It kept me at a hand's distance. But then, when has a RGV film made me invest emotionally in its characters after Satya?


I guess I should just be content by thinking RGV has made that’s at least as good as the Sarkar series (though I know its nowhere near his true capability)



Generally while praising a movie, We usually end up saying 'All performances are great'. But here, it almost stands accurate. ALL THE PERFORMANCES are genuinely impressive, except for Kannada Super-star Sudeep who quite messed it up despite being assigned the role of Big B's son. Sad!



Otherwise Reteish Deshmukh proves he is a sincere actor now. His under-stated approach to this role worked just right.

Among the others, I was really stunned by how well Mohnish Behl performed. Hammy it may be called, but I loved it! Paresh Rawal and Rajat Kapoor had their (truly!) sparkling moments. BIG B of course had the climax



Go watch it, guys! Its a film from RGV finally after eons, not some home-video meant for his personal viewing accidentally leaked out.

Rating - (P.E.) Pretty Enjoyable!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Chance pe Dance



if 2 films are enough to judgment a film-maker's tempramental, Ken Ghosh has been one unsual director. Ishq Vishq was one of the very few Kuch Kuch Hota Hai clowns that actually worked in those days. He could have made another Ishq Vishq but he went on to make Fida, which displayed his flare for unpredictability and risk-taking.

You, therefore, are not surprised when the romantic track in Chance pe Dance takes its own sweet time to build up. The characters don't fall for each other instantly. Infact, Its only in the 2nd half when Sameer (played decently enough by Shahid Kapoor) finally musters up the courage to say those 3 words to her co-league friend Tina (Genelia).

everywhere else though, the Writers fail Ken Ghosh pretty badly here, as he struggles to make a charming movie made on a script almost non-existent.


I was never expecting a totally unpredictable story. But When You are going for a concept narrated some 1000-odd times already, You NEED to have a script that makes you forget its biggest drawback.

Chance pe Dance does try to make amends for its cliched story in its own different way. It goes in many directions, with a motive to keep you hooked atleast, if not entertained. Be it the Vikas Bhalla sub-plot (A friend who back-stabs), the Over-the-top Mohnish Behl angle or capturing Shahid's stint as a dance teacher at a school with students who apparently have 2 left feet.

In the first half, the script-writers just seem to go through the motions with no particular try at making us invest in the characters emotionally. So There's a good chuckle once in a while, an enjoyable Shahid at physical comedy I don't remember him doing recently.. and then there are the most-anticipated Dance Numbers - not Electrifying exactly but still eye-catching enough.


Its only in the 2nd half where all the lack of effort and heart in making this one unravels - Everything done in the 1st half seems so pointless that You're no longer interested in the movie and its protagonist's dreams.

Shahid helps the kid overcome their fear for dancing, but how does it help his own self?? His friend ditches him so badly, terming him as a Loser – how does that affect him? Why make a character seem a totally blackish guy, if he has to ultimately help the guy win?? And the whole father angle – its so mediocre, You gotta check it out for yourself.

I understand this is a regular hindi movie afterall. But Here’s something I’ve learned after watching Chance pe Dance. –


"Even in a commercial centertainer (and I am NOT referring to the out and out no-brainer comedies We are served now-a-days).. Everything You write, Everything You show on screen – Has to have some relevance to the on-goings atleast. Even if it gives a slight shape to a character. It has to *DO* something to the film. Otherwise, Its just a pointless attempt at actually *Making a film*"



Just like Chance pe Dance itself – Enjoyable in parts, but pointless never-the-less.


Rating – N.E. (Not Enjoyable)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pyar Impossible (Indeed!) review





It’s so very nice of our films to bring up new concepts every once in a while (so what if they only end up screwing half of them up!)

Pyar Impossible was one such movie which promised to present to us a love story of a Beauty and a Geek, and that’s the precise reason I had been waiting for this one.

No wonder it disappointed me so badly!



Apart from good sense of aesthetics, every film needs to engage your heart first.


PI was so adamant about being simple and non-fussy, it just had to have good writing at its base. Sadly, PI is never taut enough to keep you hooked.

Sure, the voice-over occasionally does good things for the narrative. The humour too works at times, but these are just minor bargains.




First things first First - Pyar Impossible never worked for me as a 'Love Story. Despite the

well shot 'Alisha', I could never root for the geek protagonist the way we usually do in the underdog love stories. Uday manages to bring certain sweetness to his role, but that was never enough to make up for his poor writing.


What turned me off the most was (SPOILERS AHEAD) how conveniently the film shifted its tone from a feel-good Rom-com to a 'What-will-happen-now' drama about a Geek overcoming his shortcomings. And when the director tries to mix these 2 genres, the outcome is miserably poor.

So what we eventually get are minor set-pieces - like the scene with a character hiding his identity (funny, but a bit long) a long filmi-conversation between the supposed 'Hero & villain' and some cool music videos... all of them trying to entertain us individually but never coming together well enough.


When the film finally comes to its point, we are well into the latter portions of 2nd half. Yet those scenes work - for the performances put by the lead pair in those very scenes. Esp. the title track (which captures the mood of the film perfectly and shows us what the film 'could be' like)


But thanks to some contrived writing (thrust a misunderstanding for some drama, only to predictably clear it in the climax), We are left with a bad aftertaste while walking out.


Priyanka Chopra overacts big-time and fails to get away with it. I was surprised how the writer overlooked the need to throw some light on her character's Past, considering we were asked to 'feel' for her. The best parts of the film eventually are the scenes with Uday and the child actor - they are endearing and bring a smile to your face.



Eventually, it’s really quite impossible to feel any 'Pyar' for this film.






Rating - Mediocre! (At Your Own Risk)

Friday, January 8, 2010

My take on Dulha Mil Gaya..


For all my aesthetics, I still have to learn how to approach the 'true-blue' Family entertainers of Hindi Cinema. I feel 'Masala entertainers' are the toughest genre for a film critic, for even a no-brainer entertainer has to have a tone which is not so easy to keep.

In last one year or so, I've observed that no film is bore enough for me. I end up enjoying every movie of this genre more or less, and then come back home only to find Critics ripping i
t apart as well as a major part of the 'masses'. (Examples in case - Life Partner, Kal Kissne Dekha, Ek - the Power of One)
And I wonder what it takes to make an entertaining movie!!



Dulha Mil Gaya is one such throw-back to the 90s Bollywood with a particularly old-fashioned look and old-fashioned everything. There are cliches about Punjabi homes, Rich and spoilt N.R.I Brats, haughty models, Gay butlersand pretty much everything else!

And Yet, You don't mind it because they are smooth-sailing and never too heavy on your br
ains. And Dulha Mil Gaya doesn't aspire for anything higher either. Infact, its only better if such movies engage your heart. Like here where You start empathising with Samarpreet (a competent Ishita Sharma) But brains is what such movies should never aspire for, And Dulha Mil Gaya doesn't do that that either.

Atleast till 1st half.

(Minor SPOILERS ahead)


One of the characters turns grey 'coz of his hurt ego and in turn acts like a villain (for 10 minutes atleast!) And the film goes out of focus for a while. but thats not the problem.

The problem is, We are forced to think in a movie thats already not entertaining enough.


Shah Rukh finally makes an entry post-interval and tries to liven up the proceedings, and succeeds to some extent - for his character too is the 'goody-goody' sorts. But the film is only mildly enjoyable, not a thorough entertainer. A few laughs is all One can guarantee you out of this (where I must say the director has used his Background music very well)


But otherwise, its a just-passable potpourri of Comedy, drama, Song n dance (and Indian values, but of course!) that I didn't mind watching but didn't have a very great time either.


Among other notes, Sushmita Sen finally got a role she could boast of (what better than a chance to play a attitude-type Hi-fi Model!!), and She was pretty hilarious here!
And Fardeen... well.. lets just say He didn't screw it up. Life Partner, All the Best and now Dulha Mil Gaya - seems like He finally figured out where he can end up just fine. Good for him.



And yeah, watch out for the final embrace of the leading couple in the climax. In a family film like this, That was quite... 'Odd'. Like the better part of the film itself.

Rating - M.Y.P. (Mediocre yet Passable)

Radio - Himesh's tour de force?? Hell Yeah!!
















This is 2010, a new year; agreed. And ideally, I should only be taking of the films that released or I saw this year. But I just can't ignore the criminally over-looked sound-track that was a part of 2009.

In the last month of the last decade, Amongst all the Paas, Avatars and their idiocy, came a small budget film with supposedly one of the biggest stars of the country. Now this star apparently has unbelievable fan following among the masses and equally astonishing hate club otherwise.





So what happens when a Star of such stature fails to cater to his core audience? A decent enough film like Radio bombs like no other movie that year, unfortunately wiping all the traces of its marvellous, and more importantly - straight-from-the-heart Music the film could boast of.








Radio does for Himesh what Swades did for SRK - Prove that He can he really really good if he actually wants to be. And despite all the experimentation done with the music pieces and composition, One can say Himesh is one of the fewer Music directors today who retains the soul of the Laxmikant-Pyarelal school of

music in our films.



I always believed that Himesh is a self-centred composer when he is singing. And that’s why it surprised me the most to see how he took a back-seat for more than 1 song in this album.




In that context, 'Piya Jaise Ladoo' is a clear winner. Rekha Vishal's vocals are touching, and so is the idea of the song.

(That reminds me of the pathetic decision to use its remix in the film, which didn't help the cause anyways. The original could've been a real heart-breaker in its place)







The biggest thing this sound-track does For me is that it captures the innumerable moods of Love. Apart from the crowd-pleasing 'Zindagi Jaise Ek Radio' (which surprisingly fit fantastically in the tragicomical parts of the film's first half), Every other composition is so sincere that You can't help your heart go out to it.


The Blossoming of a relationship, the longingness for your beloved, the pain of a broken heart, the thoughts of a heart seeking some love - Its all there, wrapped in very neatly carved tunes.. without any excess or

over-zealous decorating music pieces.



The calypso-beats of 'Rafa Dafa kiya nahi jaaye' set it apart from any other love song last year. The fact that it has some truly heart-warming lines only helps us connect to it better.



A Song like 'Mann ka Radio' is the sort Himesh has almost specialised in last 4-5 years. Sad at core, but full of foot-tapping music. And yet, its beats are a tad different from what we usually hear from him. I esp. love the way the techno-beats overtake after the mukhda ends. Great stuff!

On a total contrast, 'Damaad ji' is a total fun song with genuine feel-good music and singing. Kailash Kher is brilliant here.



Another thing that surprised me was how well Himesh blended his earthy voice with the mellifluous vocals by Shreya Ghoshal - in not 1, 2.. but 4 great romantic numbers!!



For those who keep harping about Himesh's nasal twang, they have to listen to the sheer simplicity with which Himesh rendered these songs.

These 4 love dittys, namely 'Jaan e mann', 'Shaam ho Chali Hai', 'Koi na Koi Chahe' and 'Teri Meri Dosti ka Aasman' have romance written all over them.


And they are not regular love songs. There is an affecting sense of melancholy and nostalgia (the way you feel When you remember your past with your beloved) seeped in their composition and heart-felt lyrics.

And yet they make you feel good about being in Love. :)



That’s exactly the brief One can give about Radio’s Music. Its Heart-felt, Emotional and Enjoayble. And It certainly wouldn’t be wrong to say that This is the best music He has produced in a long, long time!

P.S. – This is for a friend who, in my knowledge and experience, is the biggest admirer of Himesh Reshmiyya.

I am not a big fan of Himesh’s work, but this is one album which I really like. And Hence, It deserved a review.. even from a lazy bum like me. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

3 idiots

When 3 idiots was announced, My prime concern was with the selection of its leads – R. Madhavan, Sharman Joshi & and a certainly ageing Aamir Khan. How would they approach the characters half their age was all I worried about. But for all it stands, Actors looking their part is the least of this film’s concerns. 3 Idiots succeeds in everything it is concerned about. But the problem is – We expect Hirani to be concerned about much more.


5 point someone, for all its clich├ęs, was still a novel set in reality and made us believe every word it said. On the very contrary, 3 Idiots, despite being based on the same is hardly rooted to the ground. And the best part about it – It never lets us bother about these very ‘reality check’ issues either.



Hirani believes in two genres that otherwise seldom appear together in same hindi film – Message-driven drama and Comedy. But then, that’s what sets 3 Idiots apart, just like his first two cult classics. The Comedy here, is absolutely first-rate – covering almost every kind of humour We’ve seen in our cinema. From the gently-funny tribute to 50s-esqued house of limted means in our films to the utterly delightful ‘Zoobi Zoobi’, Hirani shows how can comedy be simply clean fun. Infact, it’s the comic scenes which keep the film sailing pretty smoothly despite its other so-over-the-toply executed sub-genre – the preaching part.



Be well-educated, not well-trained”, “Follow your heart”, “Study for excellence and success will follow you” and our leading man Ranchodd das ‘Rancho’ goes on and on about how to qualify as an ‘Idiot’ in their professors’ books. But other than these very countable punch-lines, We hardly are allowed a glimpse at the idiocy of the trio. For most of its running length, 3 idiots is only about how unbelievably perfect is its protagonist. The fact that its played by Aamir Khan - who played a similar idealistic sentimental guy exactly 2 years ago in Taare Zameen Par - hardly helps (though he is as brilliant here too). He is the knight in the shining armour out to help everyone in sight, what with additional statistics for reference about how many students actually commit suicide every hour. Ohh please!


Even worse, with (a very theatrical yet effective) Boman Irani playing a sort-of antagonist who can offer sympathy toa student but not extension for his project, We are forced to take sides. Manipulation is fine until We don’t realise that. But here, the director fails to keep us involved enough.



Sharman Joshi and Madhavan are in fine form (esp. the former who does wonders with a sharper character-arc) but its tough to care for their bonding with Aamir, for there’s hardly any shown in the film. For that matter, the Kareena-Aamir romance too is played out as a filler. Perhaps that was the makers’ intention, but it doesn’t quite come out very convincingly.


And ofcourse, the Second half dips into excess of melodrama turning the initially-delightful mantra ‘Aal is well’ (Watch out for the backdrop story behind this chant; its hilarious!) into some sort of an anthem. That may grate on your nerves towards the end but perhaps that exactly what Hirani wanted to do. He doesn’t care for excess as long as it manages an emotional reaction of us. And 3 Idiots gets that in plenty, so what if at the cost of a little too much of manipulation.



Ultimately, 3 Idiots is more about the triumph of idealism rather than the inherent charm and hardships of growing up (which is briefly, and hence ineffectively, summed up in a minute-long rendition of ‘Give me some sumshine’ early in the film), thus making it a trilogy of sorts in continuation with Munna Bhai’s stint at a medical college and later at changing the system as a whole. The title could just as well be ‘Ranchodd das B.E.’ and it wouldn’t make a penny of a difference to the goings-on.



The film entertains you too much to nitpick so much, could be the counter-argument. But with Hirani wielding the megaphone, I don’t expect mere laughters (so what if they come in like every other minute, leaving you rolling in the aisles) Hirani can be quite a magician, but this one certainly failed to cast its spell – but only perhaps because it was so desperate to do so.

Rating - 3.75 (Would soon find a better way to rate films, I assure!)