Ek Tha Tiger

Hit Hai Boss!

Pic source: Wikipedia

To be honest, I did not expect much from Ek Tha Tiger. Of course, it was in my must watch list like most Bollywood movies but I was skeptical about a Salman Khan film directed by Kabir Khan. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt the director’s ability to make a nice film; his Kabul Express was quite good and New York was also nice. However, I had my reservations about him combining the mindless fun of a Salman blockbuster with that of a thriller. Could he create something ridiculous yet fun like Wanted that fans of Salman Bhai love? Could he stay true to the romantic-thriller genre and avoid the silliness of a regular Salman blockbuster? I was worried that the filmmaker will try to combine both and fail miserably.

Fortunately, I was proved wrong and Ek Tha Tiger managed to reach the level of a decent entertainer. The plot is less ridiculous than usual Bhai films, but there are big tiger sized loopholes (story by Aditya Chopra; screenplay by Kabir Khan & Neelesh Misra). One has to keep shunning out logic and common sense throughout the film but the director has built in enough applause worthy Bhai moments to make up for that. There are enough thrills like the elaborate opening fight sequence shot in Iraq where Tiger (Salman) sledges down the stairs in a marketplace while shooting at the enemies; or when he stops a tram from crashing, using his blazer alone! Coming back to the story, the first half is quite predictable but the chemistry between Salman and Katrina make it watchable. The real fun starts post interval where our desi James Bond, RAW agent, Tiger decides to fight for his love instead of his nation.

Katrina Kaif as Zoya is quite good in the film and you can’t help but applaud at her stunts and parkour skills (of course, there was a body double but that’s not the point). There are more exaggerated stunts that make you jump in your seat – no they’re not the most sophisticated ones but most ridiculously fun, like the usual Salman stuff. The film is shot across the world at picturesque and exotic locations like Ireland, Cuba, Thailand and Turkey. Aseem Mishra does justice to all these locations and the good looking lead pair with his cinematography. However, I fail to understand why so many slow motion sequences were there including milk being poured in a vessel!

The biggest let down in the film is its ending. The film almost ends abruptly while you’re having loads of fun and expect it to continue for fifteen more minutes. But I guess there was nothing more left to say or show so the director decided to just wrap up after a masaledaar sequence. The final montage of Salman and Katrina at popular places around the world is hilarious and could have been avoided. Music by Sohail Sen is disappointing and there is not one song I can say I liked; the one popular number, Mashallah is also done by guest composers – Sajid-Wajid. Background score by Julius Packiam is interesting with music elements from the respective countries where the scenes are set in; and also the introduction music piece for Tiger.

Ek Tha Tiger is definitely a onetime watch and if possible go in a large group to a single screen theatre to enjoy the ceeties and the hooting.

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Gangs of Wasseypur 2

 

A to Z of Wasseypur

Pic source: Wikipedia

Anurag Kashyap’s Gangs of Wasseypur 2 lives up to the huge expectations set by its prequel; the director once again delivers an entertainer that is full of masala but unlike any other revenge dramas dished out by Bollywood. The film picks up the story of Wasseypur and its goons from where the first film left it. Sardar Khan is killed by those he wanted dead in the first place; Ramadhir Singh continues to gain prominence in politics and the Qureshis are left divided between the Khans and the Singhs. Gangs of Wasseypur 2 (GoW 2) follows the story of Faizal Khan as he picks up and lives his father’s unfulfilled purpose – revenge.

Here’s A to Z of Gangs of Wasseypur 2 (minor spoilers ahead):

A – Anurag Kashyap: Writer, producer, director – Kashyap is truly changing the game for Hindi cinema. His keen eye for detail, amazing story-telling ability, penchant for style of a different kind and quirky sense of humour makes him one of the best filmmakers of this generation. GoW 2 is gory, funny and ironic… all credit to the director for giving us a pair of fine and memorable films this year.

B – Badla: Faizal Khan is not like is father, he is a different man. He likes movies, he likes to live in his own world… but he is given no choice but to follow the destructive path treaded by his father. Revenge (badla) – an emotion that sets the tone of GoW 2 from the first scene itself and consumes each and every character in the film.

C – Ch**iya: The preferred expletive amongst the inhabitants of Wasseypur along with some others. I chose this one specifically as the two main characters; Ramadhir Singh and Faizal Khan use it quite often and with style.

D – Dialogue: Excellent screenplay, peppered with some brilliant dialogue make GoW 2 also quite enjoyable like its prequel. Though there is less fire in the lines as compared to the first film; full credit to Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia and Anurag Kashyap for infusing humour in a film where there are more gun shots than dialogues.

E – English: These gangsters’ fascination with the English language is simply adorable. There is a whole sequence dedicated to understanding the meaning of the word, ‘Definite’, which incidentally is a character’s name in the film. Then there is this irritatingly sweet song that Mohsina sings for Faizal‘Set Rightva Karo Ji’.

F – Film Festivals: Both GoW films have become the darlings of national and international film festivals – from their premiere at Cannes to Toronto International Film Festival to Sydney to Osian’s Cinefan Film Festival in Delhi; the films have got the film snobs hooked along with the general audience.

G – Guns: From the desi kattas to rifles to AK 47s, there are guns and guns on display and use in the film. People shoot more and talk less in GoW 2. Guns are not the only patakhas in the film, there are apples too… watch to figure out.

H – Huma Qureshi: Delhi girl, Huma Qureshi plays Faizal’s love interest and trophy wife in the film. She is sexy and she knows it… unlike his father, Faizal is a loyal husband and Mohsina stands by him always. He likes to flaunt her with her Ray-Ban sunglasses, carefully styled hair that gives her an unkempt look and bright outfits. She doesn’t have a lengthy role but has great screen presence and is extremely likeable.

I – Ishtyle:  From razor-blade loving young gangsters to the gadget loving mafia dons who flaunt their pagers; Kashyap’s Wasseypur world is carefully designed with small details that show style, reflecting the period and the people’s aspirations. Then there is the gore, Tarantino style – the severed head, the spray of blood and the screw driver in the eye. Faint-hearted be warned.

J – Jail: It is like a comfortable guest-house for the characters in GoW. They walk in and walk out as per convenience and usually use the prison for safety.

K – Keh Ke Loonga: The first film’s attitude stays throughout the sequel as well. Faizal Khan may not want what his father left him but he is not afraid of anything or anyone.

L – Ledar: From the whole soundtrack, ‘Dil Chhi Chha Ledar’ song stands out for me. Not only because it is catchy but it is used with the most amazing chase sequence I have ever seen in Indian cinema.

M – Manoj Bajpayee: While his character, Sardar Khan dies at the end of the first film, one cannot forget him in this saga.

N – Nawazuddin Siddiqui: He had a tough job laid out for him. Manoj Bajpayee was brilliant in the first film but Nawazuddin as Faizal Khan not only met but exceeded expectations. Faizal thinks he is Amitabh Bachchan but the discovery of him being Shashi Kapoor in real life jolts him – the actor brings this alive brilliantly. Honest film award juries will have a tough time choosing the best actor between Bajpayee and Siddiqui next year.

O – For all the moments in the film that make you go – ‘Oh God!’

P – Perpendicular: What a wonderful character and what a wonderful name! Perpendicular is a star – a fourteen-year-old nuisance that plagues Wasseypur and loves a razor blade in his mouth. Aditya Kumar as Perpendicular is fantastic. And where there is Perpendicular, there is Tangent also. Confused? Mathematics nahi padhe ho kya?

Q – Qureshi: There is only one evil Qureshi left in this film, Sultan (Pankaj Tripathi) who is also less menacing than the last film. But he makes up for the entire clan with one heinous act.

R – Richa Chaddha: Where has an actress of this caliber been hiding till now? If Richa Chaddha was good as Nagma Khatun in the first film, she is better in this one. From the fiery wife of Sardar Khan to a vengeful mother, she ages well on-screen. She is fabulous in a scene where she gets emotional while singing a happy wedding song.

S – Sneha Khanwalkar: Her music takes the film to another level. Apart from ‘Dil Chhi Chha Ledar’, I loved ‘Kaala Re’ that she also gave vocals for; and ‘Taar Bijli’, which is folksy and captures the mood well in its two versions.

T – Tigmanshu Dhulia: He has played the most memorable villain in Bollywood in a long-long time. Ramadhir Singh will be remembered like Shakaal and Mogambo. Dhulia plays the character with élan and makes him believable.

U – Unexpected: The first film trained us to expect us the unexpected but GoW 2 does not cease to surprise. Bollywood music at a funeral; characters acting against what is expected and a lot more unexpected fun is packed in the film.

V – Vineet Kumar: While Nawazuddin Siddiqui gets all the attention; this man as Faizal’s elder brother, Danish Khan shines in the first half an hour of the film. He is the one who makes Faizal Amitabh Bachchan feel like Shashi Kapoor. This actor certainly deserves more good roles.

W – Womaniya – Reemma Sen: Hell has no wrath like a woman scorned.

X – Xtra: Just like the first film, GoW 2 is extra long and could have done with some editing.

Y – Yashpal Sharma: Cameo of the year. Period.

Z – Zeishan Quadri: He has not only the man behind the story of the film but also plays one of the most important characters – Definite. A Salman Khan fan, Definite is an enigmatic gangster, who proves most dangerous to both his allies and enemies.

Cocktail

Neither shaken nor stirred!

Pic source: Wikipedia

Beautiful people in high fashion labels, partying at the most happening places do not make a good film. Unfortunately, the makers of Cocktail think otherwise. The film is dull, boring and predictable; there is neither smart writing nor great performances to engage the audience. Director, Homi Adajania has failed to live up to the high expectations that were set with the slickly cut promos and the dazzling visuals. Unfortunately, the best parts of the film are there in the promos only and one keeps waiting for some more excitement in the film.

**Some spoilers ahead**

The film is written by Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali but there is nothing new in the story. Protagonists indulging in casual sex, drinking and partying hard may have been novel ideas for Indian cinema in the last decade but not in 2012. Even from the love triangle point of view, there is nothing new… there are no surprises on who gets the guy – the girl who wears short dresses and drinks or the girl who worships and puts a blanket on her friends when they sleep.  Your guess is as good as the makers’.

Cocktail is about three friends – Veronica (Deepika Padukone), a rich party girl with parent issues; Gautam (Saif Ali Khan), a Casanova from Delhi now in London; and Meera (Diana Penty), a newly-wed girl from India who comes to London to be with her husband (Randeep Hooda), who had only married her for dowry (though he gets her a resident permit in the UK, which she uses quite well!) The writers’ have shown the most amount of creativity in showing how these characters meet – but nothing really seems believable. Anyway, after two-three party sequences, one friendship song and a fancy weekend break in Cape Town (very efficient Visa service in the UK I must say for an impromptu holiday plan); the awesome threesome get in a love triangle (yawn!) From this point onwards you can actually predict the next scene; if you’re going in a group, it can also become a game.

One thing I quite liked about the film and also got a bit miffed with is the styling. Indian Vogue’s Fashion Director, Anaita Shroff Adajania has styled the film and the three lead characters do wear good clothes. Deepika is styled well throughout and carries the look of a London based fashionista quite well. Saif as usual is well turned out and you cannot miss the Burberry jackets and trench; he only needs a little more lip balm. Diana looks pretty and her styling follows her BTM (behenjiturned-mod) story. This is where I have a complaint with Anaita – when Meera lands in London, she has no sense of style and even lesser money; even after she finds a job as a graphic designer, I am assuming she doesn’t earn loads; but the stylist thinks it is ok for her to sport luxury labels – a Tod’s bag for instance.

In the acting department, I am quite impressed with Diana as she has delivered an above-average performance in her first film. I just wasn’t convinced with the way her character shaped up; we are supposed to like her and she is supposed to be the conscientious one but then she does betray her best friend (Tequila shots cannot be blamed for it Mr. Director). Deepika still needs diction lessons but she did go beyond her usual range. Regarding Saif, he was mostly irritating and I mainly blame the character; also he is no longer convincing as a 32-year old! My favourite was Dimple Kapadia as Gautam’s mother who essentially did what Kirron Kher usually does as an aggressive Punjabi lady. Boman Irani was good in his short role and Randeep Hooda was completely wasted.

The film’s music by Pritam is nice and adds a dash of fun (lyrics by Irshad Kamil). I enjoyed ‘Tumhi Ho Bandhu’ (vocals – Neeraj Shridhar & Kavita Seth) and ‘Daaru Desi’ (vocals – Benny Dayal & Shalmali Kholgade) tracks. But my favourite song in the film is not an original one but borrowed from another album; it is ‘Angreji Beat’, sung by Gippy Grewal and Yo Yo Honey Singh. I liked the way they introduced Deepika’s character with this fun song. Cinematography by Anil Mehta is brilliant (as expected); London looks even more inviting through his lens and Cape Town simply gorgeous. Editing by Sreekar Prasad is ho-hum; the film just goes on and on in the second half making you crave for a real cocktail!

Overall, the film leaves you cold and disappointed. This Cocktail is not mixed well; watch it if you don’t mind predictable but good looking stuff.

Gangs of Wasseypur

Revenge is best served on coal…

Pic source: Wikipedia

After watching ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ (GOW) yesterday, a friend tweeted, “go watch, if you have class enough to appreciate crass…” While I am not sure if I agree with her completely, it is certainly a film to watch. Director, Anurag Kashyap’s ambitious saga about coal mafia and revenge, set in Wasseypur / Dhanbad (now in Jharkhand; earlier in Bihar) packs in a lot of punch with its clever writing (Zeishan Quadri, Akhilesh, Sachin Ladia & Kashyap himself) and performances. Expansive in vision and scale, the GOW saga spans three generations and borrows heavily from real life incidents from pre-independence era to the modern times. (Minor spoilers ahead).

GOW is a story about men obsessed with power and revenge. Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) swears to avenge his father’s death by the hands of coal mine contractor turned politician, Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia). He does not want to kill him but savour the revenge by bringing Singh’s empire to a downfall. On one hand, Khan has Singh to destroy in Dhanbad; he has the Qureshi clan in Wasseypur to fight with as well. Butchers by profession, the Qureshis were responsible for driving out the Pathans (Khans) from Wasseypur in 1941. Not that the Pathans were innocent; Sardar Khan’s father, Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) used to loot the British trains by impersonating the legendary dacoit, Sultana Daku, a Qureshi. The film’s plot is complex and this is just the main premise; there are many characters that keep getting introduced throughout the film. However, the director manages keeps it all together and sustains the interest for about 160-minutes.

Kashyap effectively uses humour and music to keep the film entertaining and not only a blood-fest. The film has powerful dialogues that shock and amuse in equal parts. At one point, Sardar Khan’s wife tells him to eat properly so that he doesn’t embarrass himself by not being able to perform sexually at a brothel; she says something like, “Khana khao, takat aayega, bahar jaa ke be-izzati na karana”. Coming to the women in GOW; Richa Chaddha as Nagma, Khan’s fiery wife steals the thunder from Bajpayee whenever she appears on screen. She loves and hates her man in equal parts but stands by him in all adverse situations. Then there is the other ‘womaniya’, Durga (Reemma Sen); like the men in Wasseypur, she does not have any qualms in claiming what is not rightfully hers. Both actresses deliver impressive performances but Richa’s character draws more empathy. In GOW, Bajpayee gets his career’s best role and he shines; the character he plays is not really positive but the flaws make him more real – someone you support at times and hate at others. Tigmanshu Dhulia makes a powerful debut and has a career in acting apart from filmmaking. The next generation of gangsters is also introduced in the film but most of the action is reserved for them in the second part of the film that is expected to release soon. The person to watch there is Nawazuddin Siddiqui whose character, Faizal seems to have been modeled on Amitabh Bachchan’s angry young man on-screen persona in the seventies.

Music (Sneha Khanwalkar; lyrics: Varun Grover, Piyush Misra) is one of the best parts of the film and you often hear unexpected tracks playing in the background (background score: G V Prakash Kumar). The song, ‘Teri keh ke loonga…’ defines the film and its attitude; ‘Womaniya’ and ‘I am a hunter’ are both enjoyable and thankfully none of them disturb the film’s narrative. The only real flaw I could find with the film is its length; however, that can be forgiven if the film is good overall.

I strongly recommend watching Gangs of Wasseypur but those who are averse to violence and blood on screen, may avoid.

 

Ferrari Ki Sawaari

An Aww-ful Film…

A simple plot, likeable characters and a lot of ‘Aww’ moments make Ferrari Ki Sawaari a must watch summer film for families. Indian cinema has always celebrated the mother-child bond but this film focuses on the father-son relationship. It is a story about a single father’s determination to make his son’s dreams come true.

Rusy / Rustom Deboo (Sharman Joshi) is an honest government employee who always sees the brighter side of life. He loves his 12-year-old son, Kayo (Ritvik Sahore), a talented cricketer, more than anything in the world. Kayo also understands and appreciates his Pappa’s efforts to support his passion for cricket, despite his small income. The real challenge arises when Kayo gets an opportunity to go to a cricket camp at the iconic Lord’s ground in London, which has a fee of Rs. 1.5 lacs. After being denied a loan from the bank, Rusy has only two choices – break his son’s dream or take a path that is against his values to get the money. No prizes for guessing, he chooses the latter in desperation and starts a mad chain of events involving none other than Sachin Tendulkar’s Ferrari.

Writer-director, Rajesh Mapuskar manages to beautifully portray the relationship between Rusy and Kayo which is based on mutual understanding, love and respect. On the other hand, the relationship between Rusy and his bitter-old father or Mota Pappa, Behram Deboo (Boman Irani) is a little strained and we get to slowly peel the layers as the film progresses. All actors have done a good job and in this male dominated cast, a firebrand female wedding planner, Babbu Chanchal (Seema Pahawa) also manages to deliver laughs.

It is a heartwarming film that brings together emotions and comedy with an almost fantastical premise (written by Mapuskar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra & Rajkumar Hirani). I wish the film was a little shorter though (editing – Deepa Bhatia) and the music a little better (Pritam).  The prayer song, ‘Ae Mere Mann’ is very nice but does not stay with you; ‘Mara Re’ and the title track are peppy but that’s about it; the most popular track ‘Mala Jau De’ is popular mainly because of Vidya Balan’s guest appearance.

Ferrari Ki Sawaari is a feel good film and I recommend you take some time out from all the negativities and stress to just relax and enjoy Kayo & Rusy’s adventures.

Shanghai

A smart political thriller

Pic source: Wikipedia

 If made a decade or two ago, Shanghai would have been bracketed in the art film genre and nobody except the film festival audience and a few intellectual types would have seen it. But Indian audience has evolved; if a Rowdy Rathore does blockbuster business, there are houseful shows for Shanghai as well, at least in the multiplexes. And director, Dibakar Banerjee does not disappoint; he has made a political thriller that is realistic and brave. Congratulations to him and Urmi Juvekar for the fantastic screenplay, which is based on the novel ‘Z’ by Greek writer, Vassilis Vassilikos.

The name, Shanghai is an interesting metaphor used by the filmmaker to describe the hollow promises of development by our politicians. Whether it is turning Mumbai into a world class city, modeled after Shanghai or transforming Gurgaon, the goal has not been reached but the so called progress has its costs. Banerjee’s Shanghai delves deep into the murky political games, scams and crimes that take place in the name of development. Set in a fictitious town called Bharat Nagar, the film reflects the political realities our country faces today. You can identify the real life politicians that have inspired Banerjee while writing the political characters in the film – there’s the lady chief minister who is called ‘madamji’ and has ambitions to become the Prime Minister; then there are the coalition troubles; a South Indian Home Minister and more.

Banerjee has also developed his characters really well and with superb casting, has hit the bull’s eye. There are layers to his characters and the director leaves hints for the audience to figure out more. For instance, Prosenjit Chatterjee plays a political activist named, Dr. Ahmadi; he is a bestselling author, who stays in the US but is passionate about the cause of the poor in India. He travels by a private jet (funded by whom?) to Bharat Nagar; does a photo-op with a Bollywood actress in town for his rival camp and his wife (the fabulous Tillotama Shome of Monsoon Wedding fame) is not convinced of his style of activism. He gives his life for the cause and is given god-like stature but there is more to the character that is left to be imagined. Similarly, the character of T. A. Krishnan, an IAS officer who is in charge of investigating the attack on Dr. Ahmadi is fascinating. Played superbly by Abhay Deol, Krishnan is a devout family man, who is torn between his ambitions and the right thing to do. While Emraan Hashmi has a crowd pleasing role, for me Abhay Deol steals the show with his perfect South Indian accent, mannerisms and restrained performance. Emraan on the other hand plays Joginder, a videographer who makes porn to supplement his income as a freelance media representative. He helps Shalini Sahay (Kalki Koechlin), a close aide of Dr. Ahmadi to unravel the real story behind the attack. Hashmi is good and has proved that he is much more than his serial-kisser image. Kalki also handles the character of an activist well who appears to be more in love with her teacher than his cause. Then there are small yet impactful roles played by Farooq Sheikh, Pitobash Tripathy and Supriya Pathak.

There is tension in each scene of the film and the director successfully maintains it till the end. The songs however could have been used well as background music instead of suddenly appearing in the film. Music by Vishal Shekhar is fine and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ song captures the essence of the film with words like ‘Gud bhi hai gobar bhi, Bharat mata ki jai’ (There is jaggery as well as dung in the country, hail Mother India) (lyrics: Dibakar Banerjee). Editing by Namrata Rao is perfect and cinematography by Nikos Andritsakis good, except the patchy difference in the way ‘Imported Kamariya’ song is shot and the rest of the film (it looks like a separate music video inserted in the film as a second thought).

Shanghai is amongst the best Hindi films I’ve seen in the recent times. Do watch it.

Rowdy Rathore

Rain is good, film is bad…

Pic source: Wikipedia

I enjoyed Wanted and Dabangg and Singham… so I am not against big budget masala films that have exaggerated, and at times ridiculous plots. But I am against badly made films that are made with one assumption in mind – that the audience is dumb. Prabhudheva’s Rowdy Rathore featuring Akshay Kumar and Sonakshi Sinha falls in the latter category. Mindless entertainment if done well works but that also requires some thought and not mindless collation of scenes like Rowdy Rathore (RR) – 15 comic, 12 emotional, 11½ action (½ extra for slow motion), 10 regressive, 5 sexist, 35 WTF was that, peppered with a zillion average songs (music – Sajid Wajid).

I have talked about the best ways to enjoy such films earlier  in my post about Salman Khan’s Ready; it essentially tells you to give in and laugh at the stupidity you see on screen. I tried doing all that during RR but with limited success. The first forty-five minutes of the film are unbearably bad and require all your will power and laziness combined to not leave the theatre.

At the beginning of the film, we are introduced to Shiva (Akshay), a small time thief / con-man who has this weird theme song-cum-slogan – Chin Ta Ta Chita Chita (the director very kindly explains the meaning in the second half). We are also introduced to Paro (Sonakshi), a girl from Patna who is visiting Mumbai for a wedding and falls for the first guy she sees on the streets; it doesn’t matter if he’s a thug, in fact his honesty about his ‘profession’ impresses her the most. Her hobbies include displaying her ample midriff and dancing skills. Ok, now forget Sonakshi till the last half an hour of the film where she’ll make an appearance again for 3 scenes and another dance number. At this point, the director adds a lot of confusion with an ornate wooden trunk full of teddy bears and a little girl; a case of mistaken identity (we meet Akshay Kumar 2 aka Vikram Rathore); angry weapon-wielding goons from Bihar, running around the streets of Mumbai. There is however one scene before the interval that is thoroughly enjoyable, where our hero is badly injured – has been stabbed by a 15-inch knife and has some trouble with a blood vessel in his brain. But just like Jaadu, the sunlight loving alien from Koi Mil Gaya, he regains his energy and powers with rain drops. I must applaud the special effects team for creating the most impressive first rain drop in that sequence and tracing its journey from the clouds to Rathore’s forehead.

The action shifts to a small lawless town in Bihar in the second half; and we get to solve the mystery of the mad goons who visit Mumbai with swords, axes and lathis. Writer, Shiraz Ahmed and director, Prabhudheva add everything here to make it 90s style masala potboiler – there’s abduction, rape, murder, ugly giant villain, song, dance, forced comedy, car blasts, dhishoom-dhishoom and a lot more. All this also does not make RR an enjoyable, mindless flick.

Rowdy Rathore is amongst the worst films I have seen in the recent times but it still doesn’t beat Akshay’s other best worst films – Chandni Chowk To China and Tees Maar Khan. Watch it if you are a big Akshay fan or just save your hard earned money.

 

Ishaqzaade

New stars are born in this old-fashioned love story

Pic source: Wikipedia

Habib Faisal’s Ishaqzaade is an old fashioned love story that we have seen many times on-screen. It is not exactly an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet but the basic premise of lovers from warring clans is the same. Faisal (director and co-writer with Aditya Chopra) has set the story in a fictitious small town, Almore in Uttar Pradesh where only the law of the gun works. His characters are violent with the background of political and religious conflict. There are other twists and turns but you largely know where the film is headed, especially after the interval.

So is Ishaqzaade worth a watch? For me, yes! Newcomer, Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra are compelling as Parma Chauhan and Zoya Qureshi respectively, who inherit the legacy of hatred but later fall in love. Kapoor makes a confident debut and has good screen presence; he is not perfect as an actor yet but for his first film he does justice to the character. After winning accolades for her small role in Ladies vs Ricky Behl, Parineeti Chopra confirms with this film that she is here for the long run. She is simply brilliant as a firebrand, small town girl who dreams of following her father’s footsteps in politics. She looks good, emotes well and owns the screen whenever she is there in the scene. Surely after this film, she will not be known as the cousin of another B-town actress. The director’s decision of having an all new supporting cast works as they all are believable – from helpless mothers to loathsome head of the families for whom political ambitions are more important than anyone’s life, including their own children. Gauhar Khan is the only known face in the supporting cast and is likeable in her clichéd role of a courtesan with a golden heart.

Faisal gets the details right of small town northern India, from the language to the clothes to the locations. There are the mandatory dance numbers but they do not take away from the feel of the film. Amit Trivedi’s music is outstanding with ‘Main Pareshan…’ and the title track, ‘Ishaqzaade…’ being the best songs. Cinematography by Hemant Chaturvedi is nice but the film could do with some brutal editing (Aarti Bajaj).

Ishaqzaade has nothing new to offer but for me a love story wins if you find yourself empathizing with both, and I repeat both the lead characters. The film works for me on that parameter and is a one-time watch.

Vicky Donor

A surprise package…  

Pic source: Wikipedia

I did not expect much from this film made by a not so successful director, a new producer (John Abraham) and a cast led by a TV anchor and a soap actress. However, director, Shoojit Sircar’s Vicky Donor surprised me with good writing, fine performances and its overall entertainment value. Full marks for writer, Juhi Chaturvedi who handled a taboo subject like sperm donation so well and came up with a witty screenplay that never gets insensitive or vulgar.

Vicky Donor is a young Punjabi boy, Vicky Arora’s (Ayushmann Khurrana) story who aspires to get a respectable job but like many youngsters today, is lazy to go out and do something about it. He stays in Lajpat Nagar with his mother Dolly (Dolly Ahluwalia) who runs a beauty parlor and Biji (Kamlesh Gill), his grandmother who wants a 32GB iPhone and 42inch LCD TV. Vicky is pursued by Dr. Baldev Chaddha (Annu Kapoor), a fertility expert, to donate his sperm as he is a true ‘Aryaputra’ (of Aryan descent). Vicky sees easy money in this scheme and after a lot of convincing by Dr. Chaddha, he agrees to become a sperm donor. His life starts changing when he falls in love with a Bengali bank executive, Ashima Roy (Yami Gautam).

Both Yami and Ayushmann are confident and have great screen presence; they also look good together and are relatable. Their love story has loopholes, like the girl and her family being completely blind to what the guy does, but all that can be ignored. However, trouble begins in the second half where the story falters a bit more. The conflict and the final resolution are nothing great and pale in comparison to the stellar first half. Juhi Chaturvedi has written fabulous dialogues and there are funny moments throughout the film, therefore she can be forgiven for the silly climax. The supporting cast is absolutely brilliant, especially Kamlesh Gill as Biji who is progressive and has a great sense of humour. Annu Kapoor is good but gets a little irritating as the part where he convinces Vicky is really stretched. Actors playing Ashima’s father and aunt are also good; there is a fabulous sequence of Bengali vs. Punjabi conflict and they shine through against the ‘uncultured’ business minded Punjabis.

Shoojit Sircar has a done a fine job with the film and it would have been perfect if he got the editor (Shekhar Prajapati) to cut it short by at least 20-minutes.

Go watch Vicky Donor this week in theatres, you won’t regret it.

 

Agent Vinod

Of Bond, Bebo and Audience Ki Pungi…

Agent Vinod; Pic: Wikipedia

Much awaited Bollywood spy thriller, Agent Vinod, written and directed by Sriram Raghavan released this weekend. Saif Ali Khan has not only acted in the film but also produced it. The film also stars Kareena Kapoor and a series of supporting actors including Prem Chopra, Gulshan Grover, Ravi Kishan and Ram Kapoor amongst others. I was going to review it but then someone sent me this so called secret transcript of telephone conversations between Saif, Sriram and Kareena. It obviously looks like a spoof to me as films are not made like this; but I leave it to you to decide…

Saif Ali Khan (SAK): Hey Sriram! Wanna make a cool thriller? I’ll produce it… Love Aaj Kal made good money.

Sriram Raghavan (SR): I already made two cool thrillers but despite all the good reviews, they don’t earn much at the box office.

SAK: Yeah man! Ek Haseena Thi and Johnny Gaddar were good… maybe you need to make a James Bond style thriller starring me. I mean look at Farhan and Shah Rukh’s Don, it became a hit and now they’re working on a sequel!

SR: Hmm… I think we can do better than them.

SAK: Exactly, and with your credentials, my star power and a lot of style, we can actually make a James Bond style film in India.

SR: Of course, now that the James Bond films also look and feel like Bolly thrillers from the 70s.

SAK: Done deal! So what do we call the film?

SR: I don’t know; let me start writing the film first…

SAK: Umm…  Ok but please make me an agent in the film. I’d like to be a secret agent, Bebo loves that kinda stuff.

SR: Ok, let’s call it Agent Vinod then; it was a hit spy thriller in 1977. It’s cool and retro.

SAK: Superb! People will call it a remake and after a while we’ll deny it… think of the double publicity… ok, hold on a minute, Bebo is saying something.

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SAK: Sorry, Bebo says she also wants to be in the film and since she’s already done a Helen aunty style cabaret in Don; she wants a Jayshree T style mujra song in the film. Oh, and she also wants to be an agent. She says she liked Eva Green in Casino Royale, so please write something interesting for her.

SR: Hmm… Ok, I’ll do that. I am not sure about Jayshree T style mujra though.

SAK: Listen, I can’t disturb the peace in my household; I’ll ask Pritam to start working on the mujra and a couple of other fancy tunes inspired by music the world over as we must shoot the film in 12 countries at least!

SR: 12 countries! Ok, I’ll incorporate that in my story.

SAK: Yes, please do that. To make it easier for you, Bebo is discussing the countries she wants to visit with Lolo and Babita aunty. She’ll mail you the list.

SR: Uh… Ok! Anything else?

SAK: No I think, this is enough for now… I’ll ask my team to start working on the brand integrations so that you can keep them in mind too.

SR: Ok, bye.

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A few days later…

SR: Hello!

Kareena Kapoor aka Bebo: Hi Sriram, hope you got my list of countries… I included Russia as Saifu keeps talking about Bond movies having Russian villains. But please do not take me there, it’s too cold and I’ll have to wear jackets; that will make me look fat, no? I’d like to shoot in Europe during summer as I’d like to wear a nice sexy gown for a chase sequence. Manish (Malhotra) was over last night for cocktails and we discussed some ideas. He’s the best you know!

SR: Oh, your character is from Pakistan and an agent so I thought you’d like more rugged stuff, like jackets and all… but it is ok, a gown it is for the chase sequence.

Bebo: You’re such a darling… LOL! Accha, talk to Saifu now… I am off to shoot an action sequence for Bodyguard. They have a killer helicopter robot chasing me during the scene today; you also think of something cool like a deadly box of chocolates or something. OK, Ciao!

SR: Ok Kareena, I will. Thanks!

SAK: Hi Sriram. I have seen loads of DVDs now and I want you to include the following… a Bo Derek style swimsuit sequence, where we’ll have a hot model emerging from the sea in a two piece bikini; and don’t think of Bebo doing it! I watched In Bruges, so let’s have some sort of shoot out sequence in middle of an exotic European city square. The opening title sequence should be at par with a Bond film! We definitely need to have a car chase, a bike chase and a helicopter… Of course, the plot should have the villain planning a nuclear war or something that I’ll thwart. Oh! And I have already placed an order for a Savile Row tuxedo, Casino Royale style… so include a sequence where Bebo and I go for a fancy function or something; Manish is doing a slinky dress for her in gold.

SR: Yes, I will. Anything else?

SAK: Oh yeah! Pritam has got some really original inspirations this time… he’s doing something on the lines of Boney M’s Rasputin and a special item song for me based on some Iranian band number he discovered on YouTube. Bebo’s mujra is also shaping up well; she even chose a fuchsia dress. And Pritam says we can give a retro touch by using old Hindi numbers in the back ground score. I think it’s ingenious! Your views?

SR: It’s your film buddy! I am only the writer, director.

SAK: Good! I promise we’ll make money on this one… I have a good feeling about it.

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March 26, 2012 – After the first weekend of Agent Vinod’s release

Audience:

Agent Vinod should have been called Travel Agent Vinod! (Read on Twitter and Facebook)

Agent Vinod ne pungi baja di… I’m never getting my Rs. 250 and three hours back…

Critics:

Sriram Raghavan what have you done? We fanboys are disappointed…

Producer’s Office:

Film’s budget + promotion: Rs. 50 Crore + 12 Crore = 62 Crore approx

Music & Satellite rights sold: Rs. 30 Crore approx

First weekend worldwide collections: over Rs.  25 Crore approx

We’ll make a profit hopefully…