3 Idiots

 

Smile, laugh and cry with these idiots…

Pic: Vinod Chopra Films

3 Idiots is easily one of the finest films in the last few years and what makes it special is its unabashedly commercial style. It is a film that everyone would like, just like Manmohan Desai’s films that made us laugh, cry, sing and dance, all in one go. Despite being a paisa-vasool entertainer, the film also carries a message – a message about our education system and the rat race we all are a part of. With this film, the director, Rajkumar Hirani has got a hat-trick of relevant yet commercially successful cinema; the first two being Munnabhai MBBS, which was a comment on the medical profession and Lage Raho Munnabhai that made Gandhi cool.

Loosely based on Chetan Bhagat’s best-selling novel, Five Point Someone, 3 Idiots is about three engineering students and their tryst with the archaic education system. While the issues raised in the film are serious, the treatment is extremely fun without losing the message. The film is hilarious for most parts but also brings tears in your eyes at one point. Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijit Joshi’s script is the real winner here; of course credit also goes to Chetan who came up with the idea and wrote the book.

Aamir Khan (Rancho), R Madhavan (Farhan) and Sharman Joshi (Raju) play students at Imperial College of Engineering, a fictitious institution that is supposed to be the best in the country. The villain in their life is the director of their college, Viru Sahastrabuddhe aka Virus (Boman Irani) who thinks life is a race and there is no place for number 2. Kareena Kapoor as Virus’ daughter, Pia adds the romantic angle to the film while Farhan and Raju’s family add the melodrama. Actually, Raju’s family adds more comic element than melodrama, do watch out for them. All actors have done a fantastic job in the film and are convincing as college kids despite the actual age difference. While the film focuses a lot on Aamir’s character; Boman Irani and Sharman Joshi shine with their stellar performances.

Technically also, the film is perfect with fine editing by Rajkumar Hirani and cinematography by C. K. Muraleedharan. What disappoints a bit is the music (Shantanu Moitra), which is not exactly memorable but it does sit well with the situations in the film.

Apart from all the masala in the film, what works well for 3 Idiots is the fact that it is so relatable and youth centric, the largest demography in India… from ragging to nagging parents; drinking with buddies to the stress brought by exams; 3 Idiots borrows heavily from the real life and presents it in a light hearted manner. Go watch it with your friends, family, teachers or whoever you can catch hold of… you’d regret if you miss this one.

My Rating: * * * * ½ Four and a half stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal

 

Avatar

 

James Cameron does it again, but…

Pic: 20th Century Fox

James Cameron’sAvatar’ was probably the most awaited film of 2009 with all those special effects to bring alive the master director’s vision. A lot has been said about the 300-500 million dollars spent, the new language developed and the special stereoscopic cameras used to film it. The same hype probably works against the film and you feel a little disappointed while the end-credits roll. I am not saying that it is a bad film; Avatar is a good film and is a visual treat; it’s just that the expectations were beyond imagination.

Avatar is a simple film, mounted on a huge canvas to tell the age old story of good versus bad. While the theme is old, it is very relevant to us today as we face the global warming crisis that threatens our very existence. The film is set sometime in the future when there is nothing green left on our ‘dying’ planet. However, the human greed has extended to a moon called Pandora, 4.3 light years from Earth. The aliens (humans in this case) are after a precious mineral called Unobtainium and want the indigenous population of blue coloured species called Na’vi to co-operate, by hook or by crook (read forcibly). The story is about the clash between the Na’vis who worship nature and the aliens who after destroying their own planet, are after theirs.

Cameron successfully manages to create a bond between his audience and the Na’vis who are referred to as the ‘hostiles’ or ‘blue monkeys’ by the invading aliens. He encourages you to look and feel, the life at Pandora through the eyes of the Na’vis and you take in the awesome flora and fauna that seem to be inspired by the legendary Garden of Eden. This is where the director wins; all the technology and the imagination create a new world and experience to remember.

The film essentially belongs to the technicians and the director; kudos to the actors who deliver extremely believable performances. What does not work well in Avatar’s favour is the predictability of the story and its length (162 minutes). Also, the special effects may seem quite regular if seen in 2D (a plus on Jurassic Park maybe) and there are not enough 3D cinemas around the world. I am not too sure if people will go back to the theatre again and again like they did for James Cameron’s last outing, Titanic. Avatar is no Titanic, and may not achieve that success but it is a film that deserves to be watched.

Go watch it, but only in 3D.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars on five (Three for the film and one extra for the special effects)

Shrey Khetarpal

 

Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year

 

Yash Raj Ke Pocket Mein Rocket Hai!

Pic: Yash Raj Films

 

Remember the wonderful films of the 70s about the hopes and struggles of the middle class man, often played by Amol Palekar? Basu Chatterjee’s ‘Chhoti Si Baat’, ‘Baaton Baaton Mein’ or Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s ‘Golmaal’? The beauty of these films lies in their simplicity and the relatable situations, away from the glitz and glamour that Bollywood often piles on to its films. Yash Raj Films’ latest offering may not be in the league of the classics I just mentioned above but it does have its heart in place. ‘Rocket Singh: Salesman of the Year’ is an entertainer which shows that simple can be special and it pays to be good. Congratulations to the team of Shimit Amin (director) and Jaideep Sahni (screenplay, dialogues, lyrics) for welcoming the simple salesman into our imagination.

The film is about Harpreet Singh (Ranbir Kapoor), an aspiring salesman who is aware of his abilities as well as his limits; he is confident of his persuasion skills and does not let his not so good mark-sheets affect his dream of earning Rs 40,000 a month. He joins as a sales trainee in a computer firm called AYS (At Your Service) and hopes to reach the top through dedication and hard work. He soon realizes that life is not that simple and is mocked, ridiculed, insulted and threatened for being honest. After a point, he decides to get even in his own unique, ‘good’ way.

With Rocket Singh, Ranbir once again proves how watchable he is on-screen and puts a lot of sincerity in Harpreet’s character. The other key characters are also very well defined and the actors do full justice to them; Mukesh Bhatt as the peon and Naveen Kaushik as the go-getter salesman are both good. D Santosh as the download obsessed, IT support guy is brilliant and Gauhar Khan shines in a stellar performance as a firebrand receptionist. Debutante, Shahzahn Padamsee, sadly has nothing much to do except to cook Maggi for an unknown salesman (see, good people are still out there). Prem Chopra makes a rare on-screen appearance and adds authenticity to the Sikh/Punjabi household setting. Overall, it is a character driven film and full marks for Jaideep for writing it, except the climax which is a little disappointing.

It is an offbeat film that attempts to showcase a slice of life – life of a salesman and other regular employees in a regular office. It is not a laugh riot as I expected it to be but is not a let down either; the humour is subtle, the performances sincere and the situations close to real. It is definitely worth a watch.

Question for the makers: Why is the ‘Pocket Mein Rocket Hai’ song NOT in the film?

My Rating: * * * ½ Three and a half stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal

  

Paa

A rare film about a rare child…

 

How do you define a good film? For me, it is the way the film involves you, engages you and impacts you; if it is a comedy, does it make you laugh non-stop or if it is an emotional film, does it move you? Rarely a film completely lives up to the promise made through its promotion / publicity machinery. Paa lives up to the promise but with a slight difference; it was promoted as a very rare father-son / son-father story but what shines through is the relationship between Auro, a 12-year old child suffering from a rare genetic disorder called Progeria and his mother, Vidya. You connect with Auro, the moment he makes his first appearance and from that point onwards you laugh with him and cry for him.

Amitabh Bachchan is re-discovered in this film as Auro, not only because he has acted extremely well but also because you do not notice him in the film. There is no Amitabh Bachchan in the film but only Auro, who is a happy child despite his medical condition because of which his body has aged to that of an 80-year old. His mother, Vidya (played superbly by Vidya Balan) is extremely proud of her son and is not embarrassed or adversely affected by his situation; in fact she calls him ‘lucky’ in one scene. Abhishek Bachchan as Amol Arte, a young conscientious politician, delivers an extremely confident and restrained performance. His scenes with his son, Auro as well as his father (played by Paresh Rawal) are excellent. Performance wise, the film belongs to Auro and another actor who is a real surprise package – Arundhati Nag, who plays ‘Bum’, Auro’s maternal grand-mother and friend. She has an extremely strong character and proves that screen time has nothing to do with the impact made.

Despite the serious subject matter, writer-director, R. Balki (Cheeni Kum) has given the film a very light feel without losing the grip on the emotions. However, there is too much focus on Abhishek Bachchan’s political endeavours that move away from the main plot. Ilaiyaraja’s music is outstanding and completely involves you with what is happening on screen, especially the violin theme. ‘Halke Se Bole’ and ‘Hichki Hichki’ are two wonderful numbers in the film and credit also goes to the lyricist, Swanand Kirkire. Talking about the technicians, I cannot miss out the prosthetic make-up team that helped bring the character of Auro to screen as well as the brilliant cinematography by P. C. Sriram.

After Taare Zameen Par, Paa is a film that manages to connect the audience so well with the protagonist. In a nutshell, it is a beautiful film that deserves to be watched.

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

Shrey Khetarpal