Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

Philosophy, fun and travel porn… 

Pic: Excel Ent; Source: Wikipedia

Zoya Akhtar (director) gave us Luck By Chance, a beautiful and sensitive film that sadly not many watched… I guess she realized that her off-beat sensibilities need better commercial sheen to appeal to a wider audience in India. Her next film, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (ZNMD) is not a regular potboiler but is packaged like one (smarter though) with beautiful people who travel first class, buy Birkins and drive through exotic locations in vintage cars.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a film about friendship and discovering what you want from life… after all you only get to live once. It is a story about three friends on a road trip that changes their lives; it is a simple plot but the way it is presented is what makes all the difference (screenplay: Zoya and Reema Kagti).  The film has a light mood, many fun moments and you are constantly reminded that there’s one life to live. All this is packaged beautifully in an extended Spain Tourism show-reel! No, I am not complaining. It is almost like travel porn where beautiful images just keep coming on the screen and you start dreaming about visiting the place (cinematography: Carlos Catalan); from bright yellow corals in blue waters to wild horses running along your car; art galleries, charming cafés to the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina.

At about 135 minutes, the film is a bit too long and a little bit of brutal editing would have helped (editing: Anand Subaya); but at the same time the film’s relaxed pace lets you enjoy the moments and the visuals. Dialogues by Farhan Akhtar are witty and bring a smile to your face; a lot of the scenes remind you of your conversations with your friends. That’s where ZNMD wins, the film doesn’t try too hard to make you laugh or cry; it just involves you in what’s happening.

The actors have all done a fine job with Kalki and Katrina emerging as surprise packages. They fit the characters perfectly; Kalki of a SOBO girl who loves her Chanels and Hermés and is possessive of her fiancé; and Katrina of a half-Indian fashion student cum diving instructor. Both the girls appear quite natural and you don’t mind their accents as well. Amongst the boys, Farhan walks away with the coolest lines, except the poetry that wasn’t really required; Abhay is cool and Hrithik is alright. I say alright, because he’s done a fine job except a few scenes where you wonder if the brief to him was to over-act (look out for a scene involving a video-call with a Japanese client). Spanish actress, Adriana Cabrol has a small and likeable role.

Music by Shankar, Ehsaan & Loy grows on you (lyrics: Javed Akhtar); while ‘Dil Dhadakne Do’, ‘Ik Junoon’ and ‘Senorita’ songs have become extremely popular, ‘Khaabon Ke Parindey’ is a beautiful track that stays with you (vocals: Alyssa Mendonsa and Mohit Chauhan). The only funny piece in the otherwise likeable background score is a little instrumental piece from ‘Saare Jahan Se Accha Hindustaan Hamara’ that plays right before the lead actors go for sky-diving.

Overall, ZNMD is an enjoyable film if you don’t get irritated with the whole lifestyle-of-the-rich-and-famous presentation. It has an interesting theme and of course the USP, the breathtakingly beautiful, Spain. 

Nos vemos en España amigos.

My rating: *** ½ Three and a half on five

Pic: Excel Entertainment

 

Teen Kanya | Tagore Stories on Film

DVD Recommendation and Film Review

Satyajit Ray’s Teen Kanya

Around a hundred films have been made in different languages on Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s literary work. The sad part is that a lot of films are either lost or their prints are in a rundown state; in addition there is low awareness around these cinematic gems amongst the movie-goers today. Thankfully, NFDC (National Film Development Corporation) is working towards the restoration of these films. On the occasion of Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary, NFDC in association with the Government of India has launched a collectors’ edition, DVD box set of films based on his work.  The audio-video is digitally restored and the six DVDs are packed in an attractive box set with an informative booklet on Gurudev’s work. Priced at only Rs. 399, it is available at all leading music/video stores and online stores such as Flipkart (which also has a discount).

Teen Kanya - The Postmaster; Reliance Big Entertainment

The pack contains five movies and two documentaries made by filmmakers like Satyajit Ray, Tapan Shah, Hemen Gupta and Kumar Shahani. The films are in Bengali or Hindi and come with English subtitles. I confess that I was equally ignorant of these treasures but now I am a proud owner of this commemorative set; and plan to watch a lot more movies based on Tagore’s stories and the filmmakers featured.

The first film I watched from the set is Satyajit Ray’s ‘Teen Kanya’ (Three Daughters)…

Released in 1961, this Bengali film has three of Tagore’s stories presented as three different short films in one. Interestingly, Ray made this film as a tribute to mark Tagore’s birth centenary. In all three stories, female characters are in focus and the director beautifully portrays their emotions on-screen.

The first story, The Post Master, is about a young orphan girl of about 8-10 years, Ratan (Chandana Banerjee), who works as a maid in the village postmaster’s house. Her new master is a young man from Calcutta, Nandalal (Anil Chatterjee) who misses the hustle-bustle of city life and his family back home. Unlike her previous masters, Nandalal is kind to Ratan and starts teaching her Bengali so that she can read and write like his own sister in Calcutta. The film has very few dialogues and silence works well for the simple narrative. The final sequence is heart-breaking and enhances the beauty of this simple story.

Teen Kanya - Samapti; Reliance Big Entertainment

Monihara (The Lost Jewels) is the second story in the film and is a psychological thriller. Manimalika (Kanika Majumdar) is married to a rich man Phanibhusan (Kali Banerjee) and stays in a large mansion in a village. Bored at home, her only companions are her pieces of jewelry. She loves her jewels more than anything and her obsession with them becomes visible when her husband faces financial crisis. This part of the film reminded me of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho and Rebecca with the narrative style and the whole set up, including stuffed birds!

Samapti (The Conclusion), the third piece in the film is a love story. Mrinmoyee (Aparna Dasgupta) is a carefree young girl, who as per her mother does nothing what good girls of marriageable age should do. She spends her time playing with kids, chasing squirrels and enjoying the swing next to the river. She catches the attention of Amulya (Soumitra Chatterjee), a young man who is returning to his village after taking his exams in Calcutta. His mother has already found a suitable match for him but he convinces her to arrange an alliance with Mrinmoyee. The film captures the innocence of a young married couple who are different from each other and one of them does not even understand the meaning of marriage or love.

Teen Kanya - Samapti; Reliance Big Entertainment

Teen Kanya presents three different films in one and all are masterpieces in their own genre. My favourite is The Postmaster followed by Samapti and then Monihara. Other films in the set include Khudito Pashan aka Hungry Stones (1960, Bengali) directed by Tapan Sinha; Kabuliwala (1961, Hindi) directed by Hemen Gupta; Ghare Baire aka Home and the World (1984, Bengali) directed by Satyajit Ray and Char Adhyay aka Four Chapters (1997, Hindi) directed by Kumar Shahani. There are two documentaries in the set also including Natir Puja (1932, Silent) directed by Tagore himself and Rabindranath Tagore (1961, English), a dramatized documentary on Gurudev’s life, directed by Ray again. Click here to read more about all these films and get hold of your own set soon.

Delhi Belly

If profanities offend you, please do not read any further…

Pic: UTV, Aamir Khan Productions

(Spoiler alert: basic plotline shared in the post)

Delhi Belly is a story of three fuckers, Tashi (Imran Khan), Nitin (Kunaal Roy Kapur) and Arup (Vir Das) who stay in a shithole in Delhi. Tashi likes to think he’s a serious journalist stuck doing fuck-all feature reporting. He has a dominating girlfriend, Sonya (Shenaz Treasury) but also gets attention from a fellow reporter with an American accent, Menaka (Poorna Jagannathan). Arup is a graphic designer in an advertising agency and doesn’t have the balls to stand up to his mean boss or his witch of a girlfriend. Nitin is a photo-journalist who plans to blackmail his landlord with sleazy pictures of him with a whore, to avoid paying the rent. Shit happens when the three get accidentally involved in a diamond smuggling racket and deliver shit (literally) to a don (Vijay Raaz).

If you do not approve of the language in the paragraph above, then please do not waste your time and money on Delhi Belly. I am not saying that the film’s only highlight is the coarse language but it is what gets the most laughs; and I haven’t used any of the Hindi cuss words the film is peppered with. Delhi Belly is certainly more than the swear words used in its dialogue but its strength is the smart writing (Akshat Verma). The film does not focus on one central character but the ridiculous situations the three room-mates find themselves in. The writer uses shock factor well, whether it’s the language or the numerous farts or the suggested blow-jobs! While the urban Indian audience is used to all this with films like The Hangover but it is certainly shocking for a Bollywood mainstream film to be so daring. The good thing is that the director, Abhinay Deo manages to keep the film light and entertaining and not let it become offensive.

All the actors have done a good job, especially Kunaal Roy Kapur and Vir Das. Kunaal actually has the title role and his expressions on the commode are priceless (and equally disgusting, coupled with the fart sound effects). The girls are good too but the real show-stealer is Vijay Raaz, who apart from being a superb actor, abuses so well that he can be awarded an honorary doctorate in profanities. I am not a big Imran Khan fan but he did a fine job in the film.

Coming back to the shock factor, Delhi Belly’s music also contributes with songs like ‘Bhaag D K Bose D K Bose’,Jaa Chudail’ and ‘Shake Your Biscuit Baby’ (Music by Ram Sampath; lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya, Munna Dhiman, Ram Sampath, Akshat Verma and Chetan Shashital). Music is enjoyable and thankfully plays in the background without disturbing the film’s flow except ‘Jaa Chudail’ that brings back the dream-sequence phenomenon. The much talked about item song by the film’s producer, Aamir Khan comes in the end but wasn’t really required. Cinematography by Jason West is first rate and Huzefa Lokhandwala (editor) maintains the film’s fast pace and crisp length.

There are some scenes in the film where you feel they’re trying too hard to appear cool but you quickly forget that with the next scene. Overall, Delhi Belly is a fun film to watch and it is refreshing to see our Censor board growing up. Go watch it but not with your parents 😉

My rating: * * * ½ Three and a half on five

– Shrey Khetarpal