Blue

 

This is no Indiana Jones…

Pic: Blue; Source: planetbollywood.com

You get foreign technicians to work on your film, give itsy-bitsy bikinis to your leading lady to wear, shoot at some breath-taking locales and spend a bomb on under-water sequences… you definitely get a good looking film (except Sanjay Dutt’s paunch). Directed by Anthony D’Souza, Blue is just a good looking film, that’s about it. Pegged as an underwater treasure-hunt adventure flick, Blue disappoints with its weak script. It lacks the edge-of-the-seat thrills and the mind-games expected of a treasure-hunt film.

The film starts with the one of the cheesiest lines I have heard on-screen this year, it goes something like this, ‘Paisa, samunder ki macchli aur ladki ka dil… in par kisi ka naam nahin likha hota’ (no one’s name is written on money, fish and a woman’s heart). Immediately I knew that I am not to expect anything smart from the film. Leave aside the excitement of National Treasure or Indiana Jones, the film’s screenplay doesn’t even match up to the 1992 treasure-hunt film, Daulat Ki Jung starring Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla.

Akshay Kumar plays Aarav, a rich businessman in Bahamas who wants his friend cum employee Sagar (Sanjay Dutt) to help him find a lost treasure in the sea. Sagar apparently knows the location of the treasure but for some reason is not willing to go and look for it. Zayed Khan plays Sam, Sagar’s brother (poor guy, till when he would have to play kid brother characters) and Lara Dutta plays Mona, Sagar’s love interest. All characters are poorly developed and you hardly relate to any of them. The film has a few twists in the end but all predictable, so the climax is also extremely thanda.

Akshay is quite irritating in the film as he once again reprises his Kambakkht Ishq like Casanova character; honestly, isn’t he tired himself? Sanjay looks quite old and you want to look away from the screen when he appears in his diving gear with his stomach clearly outlined. I pity Lara who has a brief role with two and a half songs and maybe three dialogues, it seems that she wasn’t shown the script (whatever was there); even Katrina’s cameo has more importance attached to it. Regarding Zayed, he was all right in the role he had but a little too enthusiastic.

Another big disappointment in the film is A R Rahman’s music; not that it’s bad but certainly not Rahman standard. The title track ‘Blue’ is shot extremely well with some great under-water footage; while another hyped song, ‘Chiggy Wiggy’ with Kylie Minogue is just not up to the mark. Cinematography by Laxman Utekar is good and so are some of the action sequences.

Overall, Blue has more style than substance and I would recommend Abbas-Mastan’s Race, which had both in true Bollywood masala way. Regarding the film’s USP, its under-water sequences, go watch an infotainment channel instead, you’d get a better deal.

One thing that I could not understand in the film, please explain if you can. A group of angry goons enter Sanjay Dutt’s house in a scene and start shooting at everything in his living room; Sanjay who is having coffee with Lara in the dining room, decides to wear his sunglasses after hearing the sound of the bullets. Any idea why?

My Rating: * * Two stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal

 

Inglourious Basterds

 

Bl**dy Good!

Inglourious Basterds Poster; Source: Wikipedia
Inglourious Basterds Poster; Source: Wikipedia

First things first, I am not one of those who worship Quentin Tarantino (nothing wrong with those who do but I don’t); therefore this is certainly not a biased view. Now about the film, Inglourious Basterds is bl**dy good.

Set in the 1940s, in the German occupied France, the film opens with Colonel Hans Landa aka ‘The Jew Hunter’ (Christoph Waltz) of SS (Schutzstaffel, a major Nazi organisation) interviewing a French farmer at his cottage regarding a Jewish family on the run. This long scene sets the tone of the film which is cold, sinister and at the same time entertaining. Showcased in chapters, the film is mostly in French and German, with parts in English. The director builds tension with elaborate dialogue sequences, culminating it with disturbingly graphic violence.

The film gets its title from a group of American Jewish soldiers called the ‘Basterds’, whose mission is to brutally kill as many Nazis as possible and collect their scalps as souvenirs. In the second chapter, we are introduced to the members of the group including the leader, Lt. Aldo Raine (Brad Pitt) and Staff Sergeant Donny Donowitz aka ‘The Bear Jew’ (Eli Roth) who kills with his baseball bat. The Basterds hatch a plot to assassinate the key Nazi leaders including Hitler and Joseph Goebbels at a Nazi propaganda film premiere. Unknown to them, Shosanna Dreyfus (Mélanie Laurent), the Jewish-French owner of the movie theatre has plans of her own. Diane Kruger plays the German actress, Bridget von Hammersmark who is also a spy for Britain. There are many other important characters that help the film move forward to a tantalizing climax.

Part history, part fiction, the film is brilliantly written and directed by Tarantino and yes I am a big fan now. From the lead star cast, Christoph Waltz stands out with his demonic character; he has already won the Best Actor Award at Cannes in 2008 and is tipped to get an Oscar nod next year. Mélanie Laurent is good and so is Eli Roth, while Brad Pitt seems a little uncomfortable with the weird accent that sounds funny (maybe intentional).

Good editing, production design and cinematography are of course there but the eclectic background score deserves a special mention; you expect a piano playing during a state reception but you do not get it… Overall, Inglourious Basterds scares you and makes you laugh in equal parts; it is one of the best films I have seen this year… highly recommended if you are not put off by extreme violence.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal

Wake Up Sid

A refreshing, feel good film…

Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: planetbollywood.com
Pic: Dharma Productions; Source: planetbollywood.com

A film about a rich kid who does not know what to do with his life apart from hanging out with his friends… nothing new there! However, what makes Wake Up Sid extremely fresh and enjoyable is its treatment. You know what exactly is going to happen in the film but you are hooked to see how it happens. Take a bow, Ayan Mukerji, your directorial debut is a winner.

Wake Up Sid (written by Ayan Mukerji and Niranjan Iyenger) is far removed from the so called filmy clichés and is held together by moments that seem real and relatable; moments between a mother and her son, a father and his son, between friends and between two people who are falling in love.

The film traces the journey of Siddharth Mehra aka Sid (Ranbir Kapoor), from being a carefree college guy who simply spends his father’s money to someone who finds his true calling in life. His journey is complemented by fiercely independent, Aisha Banerjee (Konkona Sen Sharma), an aspiring writer from Kolkata who wants to make a new life in Bombay aka Mumbai.  Together both of them discover what they want in life and eventually find it.

Performance wise, everyone seems comfortable with the characters they play. Konkona is as usual fantastic but the real surprise is Ranbir who not only manages to bring alive the character but also shines amongst his excellent co-actors. Supriya Pathak as Sid’s mother who likes to speak with her son in broken English is extremely endearing.

While the film is unpretentious, one can see that a lot of attention has been paid to the details. From the styling of the lead actors (Priyanjali Lahiri and Manish Malhotra) to the production design (Amrita Mahal Nakai), everything is in accordance to the respective characters. While the music (Shankar, Ehsaan, Loy) may not be topping the charts by Dharma Productions standards, it goes well with the mood of the film and does not obstruct the narrative. Cinematography by Anil Mehta is as usual first rate. Overall, Wake Up Sid is a great feel good film and is highly recommended.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal