Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

“It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it”

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani;
Pic Source: Wikipedia

Writer-Director, Ayan Mukerji has done something interesting with his second film, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (his first was the lovely coming-of-age film Wake Up Sid); he has used everything that a typical Bollywood preppy romance has and still managed to keep the film fresh and entertaining. With a predictable screenplay, he has made a film that the country is falling in love with. Partly, the credit goes to the film’s leading man, Ranbir Kapoor who is finally filling the gap left wide open by the erstwhile King of Romance, Shah Rukh Khan. A line in Ayan’s film describes the young Kapoor scion perfectly… “yeh andar se jitna kameena hai, shakal utni hi shareef hai” (he is a roguish devil with an innocent face). He is a perfect mix of talent and other star qualities, just what the Cine-Doctor prescribed for Bollywood. Coming back to the film, it works at many levels and you are able to forget about something called a new story!

Roger Ebert once said, “It’s not what a movie is about, it’s how it is about it”, and Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a perfect example. It is a rom-com with a story-line we have seen in many Bollywood films, especially the ones featuring Shah Rukh… heck, we have also seen similar locations and styling. But Ayan’s film shines as it has heart and you don’t mind tagging along with these good looking youngsters in gorgeous designer clothes as they discover themselves, realize their dreams and fall in love. The film looks at first-world-problems that the affluent urban youth face, which proves why the film is doing roaring business in multiplexes and even in the international markets. It offers three-hours of escape from work, studies and the other big issues like “he/she-never-called-back”… isn’t that what most people look for in entertainment? A part of me says no but a bigger part crushes that and says, “Hell YES!”

Despite all the gloss and filmy formulas, Ayan succeeds in building likable characters and creates moments with the right amount of sweetness. That’s what differentiates Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani from other cookie cutter romances. Bunny aka Kabir Thapar (Ranbir Kapoor) is an ambitious youngster who wants to see the world and has no time or inclination to settle down; geeky Naina Talwar (Deepika Padukone) discovers her inner heroine, falls in love but wants a simple, rooted life; Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) is spunky, behaves like her guy friends but is a romantic at heart; and Avi (Aditya Roy Kapoor) doesn’t want to grow up. These four take a trip of a lifetime and we just enjoy a memorable holiday with them in Manali (shot in Gulmarg, Kashmir actually) till the intermission.

What next? A wedding, of course. Designers, Manish Malhotra and Samidha Wangnoo bring out the best of Spring Summer 2013 wedding collection – their clothes worn by some of the best looking actors in Bollywood. This display of couture takes place at an equally lavish setting, the Udaivilas Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Party after party, ceremony after ceremony and song after song, we proceed towards the climax. Am I complaining? Not at all! In between all this, the director manages to sneak in lovely moments about friendship, loyalty, romance and heart-break.

Songs in the film are beautifully choreographed (Remo D’Souza, Farah Khan) and well performed by the actors. Pritam’s music is good and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics are catchy… watch the film and try getting “Balam Pichkari” and “Badtameez Dil” out of your head. Talking about the look of the film, full-crowd-applause for cinematographer, V Manikanandan, and Amrita Mahal Nakai with Rajnish Hedao for production design. Akiv Ali (editor) could have chopped the film a bit more, especially the serious part towards the end (ok, ok I enjoyed the song and dance much more), but it’s not an issue. The film has its flaws but I had so much fun that all those small issues can be ignored.

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a fun film, it is not great cinema but is a good entertainer. I promise, you’d come out smiling from the theatre.

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Ek Thi Daayan

Once there lived a witch and she promised to return…

Ek Thi Daayan; Pic Source: Wikipedia

“So sweet, I could just eat you up…” how many times have you heard people, especially women say this to cute little kids? It’s meant as a compliment to the kid and nobody cares how sinister it sounds, not even the parents. But when Konkona Sen Sharma says this to a little girl in Ek Thi Daayan, you know she means it. It’s a normal scene and she looks like a regular woman but this time you are scared, just like the kids who are talking to her. That’s where Kannan Iyer’s debut film as a director wins; the sequences that stay close to reality are scary and tense. Once the film starts explaining things, it starts going downwards. A brilliant first half makes Ek Thi Daayan a must watch, even for people like me who don’t enjoy horror as a genre. But post interval, the film starts losing the tension that was built and the climax is a major let-down.

The film revolves around a famous magician named Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) who has a disturbing past… a past that has a mysterious woman who, as he claims, was a Daayan (witch). His girl-friend, Tamara (Huma Qureshi) loves him a lot but is not comfortable with him being secretive. And then there is a young NRI woman, Lisa Dutt (Kalki Koechlin), who shares her name with a woman convicted of murdering children in the 60s. Based on Mukul Sharma’s short story and adapted for screen by Sharma himself and Vishal Bhardwaj, the screenplay is as interesting as it gets till there is time for the conclusion.

Ek Thi Daayan is one of the better horror films made in India. The last good one I remember is Ram Gopal Verma’s Bhoot; the others churned out by the Bhatt camp and the likes are laughable at best. The film’s strength lies in the actors’ performances, especially Konkona who makes evil so deliciously menacing and normal at the same time. She has always been a fine actor who makes it easier for us to relate to the characters she portrays. In this film also, she uses the same quality to make the Daayan so scary by looking and behaving normally. Huma Qureshi is very confident on-screen and it’s good to see her playing a modern character after her small town girl roles in Gangs of Wasseypur and Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana. Kalki brings in the right level of mystery and Emraan strikes the balance between a loving boyfriend and a troubled soul. While Kannan Iyer has done justice to the script, somethings appear funny and take away from the seriousness of the film. For instance, it’s difficult to take a brooding hero seriously if he’s called Bobo; then there are scenes where Hashmi loses his cool and goes after women’s braids – there is a perfectly good explanation for the behavior but it still appears funny. The climax appears straight out of co-producer, Ekta Kapoor’s old TV show, Mano Ya Na Mano. Discount that and you have a near perfect horror film.

Vishal Bhardwaj’s music with Gulzar’s lyrics elevates the film further and creates the right mood at the right moment. Rekha Bhardwaj’sLautungi Main…” and “Yaaram…” by Sunidhi Chauhan and Clinton Cerejo are the best songs from the album.

Ek Thi Daayan is a good attempt and is definitely worth a watch. It could have been a brilliant film if the makers took a different approach towards the end; something that could have been more disturbing and open-ended than the current overly simplified end. Still watch it for a riveting first half and a brilliant performance by Konkona Sen Sharma.

PS: If you are scared of lizards, be prepared for an uncomfortable ride.

Nautanki Saala

The joke is on us…

Nautanki Saala
Pic Source: Wikipedia

Really! Vicky Donor is a big hit? The lead actor, Ayushmann Khurrana has become an overnight star!
Women like him and men relate to him. Let’s make a film with him. Story? Ok, let’s sign him first and then we’ll find a story. Ok.

You remember the makers of Bheja Fry adapted a French comedy?
Let’s do that and make a fun, small budget film with Khurrana… it will be our little-big film of 2013.

Heard of this funny French film, Après Vous? It means After You. It’s about a guy who saves another guy from committing suicide. The one who wanted to die is a total train-wreck and our hero decides to help him by giving him work and winning his girl back. Ok, what else? A love triangle! Ok, that sounds good; we can throw in some songs. Perfect.

So Ayushmann plays the nice guy; who plays the loser? Kunaal Roy Kapoor, remember his ridiculously funny performance in Delhi Belly? Perfect. And the girls? Anyone will do really as our film is about these two guys. Ok. In the French film, the lead character was a restaurant manager… that’s not very exciting in India, what do we do? We’ll make him a theatre actor and director. That way, we can play with the costumes and create a more whimsical mood. Sounds like a plan. Let’s start shooting. Done.

Lights, camera, action.

“Nautanki Saala” – a new comedy starring Ayushmann Khurrana and Kunaal Roy Kapoor

Selling proposition – a bromance… a comedy of errors… a film for all… a multiplex hit!

Premiere.

Film review:

How much can Ayushmann do to save a drab of a film?

Didn’t they see Après Vous’ Rotten Tomatoes rating before remaking it? Rotten at 57%

Dear Mr. Rohan Sippy, did you think you can make a good film inspired by a mediocre one?

Actually, why blame you when the Indian viewers help mediocre films become big hits.

Look at Dabangg 2… it was essentially a collage of left-over scenes from Dabangg.

Coming back to Nautanki Saala; the film has its moments, has a few jokes to laugh at. First forty-five minutes are good but then the next ninety are painful. Why didn’t they make an hour-long tele-film instead?

Ayushmann Khurrana plays Ram Parmar or RP, the Good Samaritan. He acts well and is likable but tries too hard to save the film. And those Angry Bird slippers!

Kunaal Roy Kapoor plays Mandar Lele, the loser. He is a talented actor and will do better with good scripts.

Other good stuff – Using “So Gaya Yeh Jahan, So Gaya Aasman” from the film, Tezaab in a remix version. Sulbha Arya as Ajji, Mandar’s brutally honest grandmother.

Girl 1 – Chitra played by Gaelyn Mendonca. She can act but is quite irritating in the film.

Girl 2 – Sita played by Evelyn Sharma. The brief to her was to look hot and she did.

Girl 3 – Nandini played by Pooja Salvi. Her scenes can be used in film school to show what not to do.
Check out the scenes where she tries to cry.

Cameo by Abhishek Bachchan – bleh!

They made a comedy film keeping in mind our intellect. Dear Hindi film audience, the joke is on us.

Dabangg 2

Lazy film-making at its best

Pic source: Wikipedia

I watched Dabangg 2 in the heart of Manhattan at a multiplex in Times Square, and did not expect the audience response I witnessed… people whistled, clapped and shouted Salman Khan’s name as the opening credits rolled with visuals from the first film (Dabangg, 2010). That’s the amazing star-power of the film’s lead actor who has the same effect on the desi audience as Edward Cullen on teenage (and slightly older) girls. The cheering returned with the first fight sequence, with the song where Malaika Arora Khan aka ‘Munni’ appears and then later with Kareena Kapoor’sFavicol’ (sic) item song. It seems everyone enjoyed the film or the whole ritual of watching a Salman flick and to be honest, I did too, but films like these are like doing a shot of tequila… you do it because everyone in the party is doing one and then you forget about it. I know, there’s little sense in that comparison but there’s little sense in cinema like the Dabangg franchise.

Dabangg 2 is nothing but an average copy of the much smarter first film. Right after the first fight sequence you know the director, Arbaaz Khan along with the writer, Dilip Shukla, are lazy filmmakers. There is nothing in the film that you haven’t seen before. Abhinav Kashyap, the director of the first film presented it as a cheesy action-comedy-romance that also surprised you at many levels. In this one, there are no clever lines (remember, “thappad se darr nahi lagta saheb, pyaar se lagta hai”) and even the action pales in comparison. It is Salman porn at best and the filmmakers are simply cashing in on that. I don’t have anything to say about the performances by Sonakshi Sinha, Arbaaz Khan, Vinod KhannaPrakash Raj and Deepak Dobriyal, as other characters really don’t matter in this film.

While I enjoyed the experience of watching this film, I wonder if I will ever look back at it as a film-buff. It fits into the convenient category created by Bollywood called, “mindless cinema” and the blame is on the audience. Yes, we may be enjoying this stuff today but we do deserve something better from our filmmakers who have become incredibly lazy and only care about the box office. Movies like Dabangg 2 are like Bollywood’s American Pie and Final Destination series and let’s not let them define what Indian cinema is all about. Come on Bollywood filmmakers, we’ll tolerate and many times enjoy these mindless flicks, but bring out the stuff that makes us think, makes us cry and makes us fall in love again with your art.

 

Talaash

 

There are no mysteries in the age of social media…

Pic source: Wikipedia

Pic source: Wikipedia

Before you read any further: I have tried to keep this post spoiler-free and basic plot points mentioned here are already shown in the film’s trailers. However, if you are going to watch the film regardless of the reviews, I recommend reading this or any other review after you’ve seen it.

Talaash may not be the best thriller we have seen this year (my vote goes to Kahaani) but I am glad the makers (Excel Entertainment, Aamir Khan Productions and Reliance Entertainment) tried to attempt something different with the movie. It has an interesting story, great performances by the cast and an unexpected ending, which thanks to loud-mouths on social media got ruined for many including me. I feel bad for everyone who could have enjoyed the film more if they did not know about the big twist in the end. In the age of Twitter and BBM, it is a challenge for filmmakers also to make suspense thrillers that can stay strong despite the spoiler getting leaked out.

Coming back to Talaash, it is decent film that gets many things right but does not keep you at the edge of your seat. People have been complaining about its slow pace, but it worked for me; writer-director, Reema Kagti (screenplay with Zoya Akhtar) creates a mood that brings together the eeriness of a murder mystery with the personal grief that her main protagonists are going through. Inspector Surjan Singh Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) and his wife, Roshni (Rani Mukerji) are unable to cope with their 8-year-old son’s accidental death, which strains their marriage. Surjan’s investigation of a high-profile death case contributes to his personal troubles as he finds himself drawn to an unlikely friend, a prostitute named Rosie (Kareena Kapoor). Surjan and Roshni’s story is probably the strongest part of the film; their grief is portrayed sensitively by the two actors, especially Rani who has got a role that exploits her talent after very long. Kareena is also good in the film and I hope she continues to choose interesting characters like this, rather than insignificant roles in mega-blockbuster masala films. Regarding Aamir, he is excellent as a cop tormented by his own demons – on one hand he is a tough police officer and on the other a hapless father. Kudos to the casting director (Nandini Shrikent) for also getting a talented supporting cast on board including Shernaz Patel and Nawazuddin Siddiqui – now this man is a chameleon – from a revenge seeking gangster in Gangs of Wasseypur 2 to a pimp’s right-hand man in Talaash, he is a delight to watch.

With superlative performances by all the actors and an interesting plot, Talaash starts on a promising note but does not confuse the audience enough to make it an exciting affair. Surjan keeps finding clue after clue and the film moves in a straight line till the ‘unexpected’ climax. Now, I had a rough idea about the final twist but I was able to piece things together within the first ten minutes of the film. The makers relied too much on the twist, which also is not entirely a fresh idea. Because I had a clue to the end, I may not be completely fair to the film but it is a lukewarm thriller and the murder mystery unfolds in a dull manner, except the surprise element in the end.

Music by Ram Sampath goes well with the mood of the film but is not outstanding (why do most big releases this year have just about average music?) Cinematography by Mohanan is nice and he uses a dull color tone to give a dark and gloomy feel to Mumbai in the film.

Talaash is certainly a one-time watch for the actors’ performances and you may enjoy it more if you don’t know the spoiler. So, go for it before someone tells it to you.

PS: I got my spoiler from a well-known journalist, Kushan Mitra (@KushanMitra) who inadvertently revealed similarities to a Hollywood film on Twitter. So-called actor, producer, Kamaal R Khan (@KamaalRKhan) also tweeted spoilers to the film.

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana

The case of the missing ‘masala’

Pic Source: Wikipedia

Bollywood has made a habit of churning out irresistibly fun trailers for films that are ordinary at best. The funniest parts of the films are incorporated in the two-and-a-half minute preview and the rest of the 118-minutes dull minutes are served after you shell out a hefty sum for the ticket. That’s the problem with director, Sameer Sharma’s first film, Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (LSTCK). It is not a bad film but does not live up to what one expected after watching the trailer.

LSTCK has a very interesting premise with a man looking for his grand-father’s secret recipe for the famous dish of Chicken Khurana (Hollywood can think about making Ocean’s Fourteen where Clooney and friends go about stealing the secret recipe of KFC’s fried chicken or Coke’s formula). With this interesting premise and a few interestingly written characters, the film is watchable and enjoyable in parts. But it lacks the chutzpah of a fun film with Punjabis as main characters like Vicky Donor, Khosla Ka Ghosla or Oye Lucky Lucky Oye.

Kunal Kapoor plays Omi, a Punjabi guy in London who returns to his village in Punjab to get some money from his family to pay off his debts – a family that he abandoned ten years ago. However, he finds that the source of his family’s fortune – the famous dhaba (highway restaurant), Chicken Khurana, named after his Daarji (grandfather) and his popular chicken dish – is now shut. Daarji (Vinod Nagpal) now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and no one else has the secret recipe for the dish. He also meets his cousin Jeet (Rahul Bagga) who has a secret of his own; his childhood sweetheart, Harman (Huma Qureshi) who is now engaged to Jeet; his maternal uncle, Titu Mama (Rajesh Sharma) and a great-aunt, Buaji (Dolly Ahluwalia) who is a self-proclaimed spiritual guru.

Writers (Sharma and Sumit Batheja) have developed some good characters but been unable to give them enough witty lines and situations. There is a scene where the whole family expresses concern over Omi not having a change of underwear; then there are a few with Titu Mama that leave you laughing out loud. But that’s about it; the emotional scenes do not do much for you and Omi and Harman’s romance also does not have that spark. The revelation of Chicken Khurana’s recipe is an interesting twist though.

Casting (Mukesh Chhabra) for the film is perfect except for one major role which is Omi’s. I like Kunal Kapoor a lot and his sincerity and charm worked well in Rang De Basanti. However, he seems a misfit in the role of a rascal in this film. Rajesh Sharma as Titu Mama is the highlight of the film and Huma Qureshi has an amazing screen presence. Music by Amit Trivedi is largely based on Punjabi folk and goes well with the film but nothing memorable.

Overall, LSTCK is an average entertainer but I wonder if you’d choose this one over Mr. Bond’s next adventure that hits the theatres on the same day.

Heroine

 

What’s with the tackiness, ‘babes’?

Pic source: Wikipedia

Madhur Bhandarkar made his name with realistic films like Chandni Bar, which got him critical acclaim, and Page 3, which got him both critical and commercial success. He then decided to focus on doing his brand of exposé films like Traffic Signal, Jail and Fashion. He had found a template, which seemed to work for him as well as his actors. However, there is this tackiness that is clearly visible in all his work, with the exception of Chandni Bar. Despite having A-list actresses doing his films and big corporate houses backing them, his films look like B-grade productions. Same is the case with the much talked about Heroine, which is tacky and in some parts, purely down-market.

Heroine traces the journey of a Hindi film star who struggles with the ever-changing power dynamics in the film industry, her limitations as an actor and perils of fame and the lack of it. Kareena Kapoor was possibly the best choice to essay the role of Mahi Arora, a film star full of insecurities. She lights up every scene she appears in and her real life persona of a star rubs off on the film. Her look, designed by Manish Malhotra is another highlight of the film; he makes her look great and from what I read in the papers, spent 10% of the film’s budget on her costumes alone! This possibly explains why the rest of the film looks tawdry and like a college project, put together by amateurs. The dialogues are cringe-worthy and half the film’s characters love calling each other ‘babes’! The gay characters in the film are once again reduced to over-the-top caricatures who either gossip or sleep around. Small time actors are given roles of superstars and big producers; and they all do not fit the bill. There are some interesting characters like Arjun Rampal who plays a superstar and Divya Dutta as a public relations queen (I will not call her a professional). Arjun suits the character as he has the screen presence and Divya acts well as a ruthless ‘brand maker’.  Randeep Hooda as a cricketer is also cast well but who did his hair? Then there are actors like Sanjay Suri, Harsh Chhaya, Lilette Dubey, Shahana Goswami and Ranvir Shorey in two bit roles along with a huge crowd of extras with garish make-up, outfits and over the top performances.

Coming to the story (Madhur Bhandarkar with screenplay by Anuraadha Tewari and Manoj Tyagi), Heroine is a mish mash of gossip that gets published in the entertainment section of newspaper supplements. From a popular 90s’ actress throwing wine on her husband’s ex to a model-turned-actress’ link up with a playboy cricketer; to the chappati counting, stingy wife of a big producer-director; there is enough masala for those who enjoy Bollywood gossip. However, there’s hardly any story apart from a string of these incidents. Mahi Arora, a successful star starts fading in her career and her personal life; she tries to resurrect it and then fails… haven’t we seen all this before?

Music by Salim-Sulaiman is just about ok and nothing that you’d like to play again after the film. Cinematography (Mahesh Limaye) contributes to the B-grade look and feel of the film, which required a lot more brutal editing (Deven Murudeshvar).

Watch Heroine only if you are a Kareena fan or Bhandarkar’s template is acceptable to you, otherwise there is plenty of good stuff in cinemas or on TV.

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.

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.

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.