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.

Barfi!


Of rainy afternoons, chai, fireflies & soap bubbles…

Pic source: Wikipedia

He loves her… she loves him too but is confused. She is practical, he is not. She cannot help but calculate; he doesn’t know that math… His love is in abundance and can only be cherished by someone who loves without thinking. Love, heartbreak, loss and a chance to win love back… That’s writer-director, Anurag Basu’s Barfi for you – it is beautiful, it is feel-good and thankfully devoid of any ‘screaming for sympathy’ antics despite differently-abled protagonists.

Barfi is a heart-warming film about a deaf and mute young man called Murphy aka Barfi, played by Ranbir Kapoor. His life may be without any sound but is not dark; he lives with his father who is a chauffeur in Darjeeling. He is mischievous and is aware of his good looks and charm, which he uses to impress the new girl in town – Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz). Then there is Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra), the autistic grand-child of a rich businessman; she loves origami, dislikes getting her footwear soiled and is friends with their chauffeur’s son.

It is an unlikely love triangle that makes you sad one minute and smile the next. Ranbir once again delivers a brilliant performance, which exudes Chaplinesque charm and sincerity that we are used to seeing in him. I cannot think of another Indian actor who could have played Barfi and played better than him. Priyanka maintains restraint and communicates effectively what goes in Jhilmil’s mind through her expressions. Like Barfi, she also has little or no dialogue but you feel all that she does… kudos to the director for treating autism sensitively and not going over the top. This is also Priyanka’s best performance till date, right next to her character, Sweety in Kaminey. Ileana looks great in the second half and has some brilliant scenes… her dilemma is portrayed beautifully by the director, accompanied by a lovely track, ‘Phir Le Aaya  Dil…’ at one point in the film. She seems awkward in the first half of the film and with Ranbir shining bright, she looks a bit dull; but all that goes away as the film progresses.

Basu creates a special mood with the film that takes you back in time when life was simpler, childhood meant chasing fireflies and playing with soap bubbles. Darjeeling looks breathtakingly beautiful through the lens of cinematographer, Ravi Varman and production designer, Rajat Poddar adds the details to re-create the delightful 70s. Like its setting, the film moves at a leisurely pace, which is perfect; however a little bit of pruning in the second half could have helped (editing – Akiv Ali). Music by Pritam is first rate and his choice of singers is brilliant – from the fabulous versions of ‘Phir Le Aaya Dil’ by Arijit Singh and Rekha Bhardwaj to Papon’sKyon’ and ‘Ala Barfi’ by Mohit Chauhan and another version by Swanand Kirkire (also the lyricist). The soundtrack not only goes wonderfully with the film but is a perfect accompaniment to spend a rain drenched afternoon, reading a book and sipping tea.

If I have to criticize Barfi, then I will blame the length a bit and the criss-cross narrative that complicates things unnecessarily. But all that can be easily ignored as this Barfi has just about right sweetness… So, watch the film and get hold of the music!

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.

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.

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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.

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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…

Ready

It’s so bad that it’s funny…

Ready; Pic: T-Series; Source: Wikipedia

What do you do when you realise after the first few scenes only that the much anticipated film (for which you booked your tickets in advance) is really bad?

  • Option 1: Sulk and feel bad for the wasted money and time (in which you could have done some useful research on Facebook or bathed your Pomeranian)
  • Option 2: Just give in and try to laugh at the audacity of the filmmaker who thinks the audience is stupid (well, in reality the audience is stupid when Salman Khan is involved these days)

I watched ‘Ready’ with a dear friend and we decided to choose option 2 as that had helped us survive the disaster called, ‘Yamla Pagla Deewana’. R (my friend) thoroughly enjoyed the film as she seems to be in love with Salman and the two popular songs; ‘Character Dheela…’ and ‘Dhinka Chika…’ were enough to keep her in a cheerful mood. These were actually the best things about this Anees Bazmee directed flick (if you can call it direction).

‘Ready’ is a remake of a Telugu film of the same name, which was also remade in Tamil and Kannada. What amazes me is the weak script (Gopimohan) that did not deter four directors from making films on it. But as long as they rake in the moolah, film-makers will continue to unleash such travesties on us. And we, the audience are to be blamed for supporting films like this… yeah, yeah I know it has Salman Khan and that’s why even I went to watch it. If you still plan to watch the film (Sallu fan, right?) then here are some tips to survive it and things you can make fun of:

  • Go with friends who are not cine-snobs… avoid those who look down on Bollywood, those who seek intellectual entertainment and those who do not like Salman. Gather a gang of friends who are willing to leave their brains out and will not blame you for wasting your time.
  • Go with sub-zero expectations… ‘Ready’ is not ‘Wanted’ or ‘Dabangg’… does not even come closer; it is however a notch above ‘Tees Maar Khan’.
  • Respect the makers’ callous attitude… lip sync and the lines do not match in many sequences; the film’s location is not clear as Sri Lanka, Thailand and India are all same-to-same.
  • Admire the way Asin T (I am not going to bother with searching and copy-pasting her second name) aspires to become Sridevi of this decade. Sadly, she doesn’t have the comic timing or the charm of the 80s’ ruling diva.
  • Appreciate the value of friendship in Bollywood… a host of Bolly stars make guest appearance in the film, including Sanjay Dutt, Ajay Devgn, Arbaaz Khan, Zarine Khan, Kangana Ranaut and Chunky Pandey (ok, ok, not all are stars).
  • Have a discussion on Zarine Khan’s weight and thunder thighs after the ‘Character Dheela…’ song.
  • Practice your South Indian dance moves on the ‘Dhinka Chika…’ number while seated.
  • Appreciate the innovative use of colours – one gang of goons wear all whites in the film and the other gang wears all blacks. Their cars match the colour themes and move in V-shaped formations (attention to detail).
  • Understand the deep romantic meaning of the film’s dialogues such as, “Main Kutta Hoon… Tum Kutiya Ho… Tum Aayi Toh, Sach Kehta Hoon… Ke Aaya Mausam, Bhonkne Ka…” (I am a dog, you’re a bitch… since you’ve come; I can say honestly that it seems like the weather to bark). Yes, that’s what Salman says to Asin, homage to his original Prem character from ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. Please do not try this with your girlfriend, she may not appreciate being called a bitch like the way Asin does and you’re no Salman.

To sum up the post, I can only say that ‘Ready’ is so bad that you can end up enjoying it… watch it at your own risk.

My rating: * * Two stars on five (1 for Salman, half each for the two fun songs)

– Shrey Khetarpal

Dum Maaro Dum

Style bhi, thoda substance (abuse) bhi…

Pic: RSE, FOX Star; Source: Wikipedia

I like Rohan Sippy’s (director) style of filmmaking… whether it’s Bluffmaster or Dum Maaro Dum (I am going to ignore Kuch Na Kaho as a debutante’s mistake); he brings that effortless style to his cinema, which is the USP of Dum Maaro Dum. With an impressive ensemble cast, uber stylish look and no other decent Bollywood flick for over two months, Dum Maaro Dum had everything going for it. The film obviously opened well and thankfully is not a damp squib. It has what it takes to be a decent entertainer but that’s about it; it does not wow or blow your mind, it is a good time-pass affair at the most.

I will come to the story and acting later but will talk about the film’s style that makes it what it is. Starting from the teaser poster with Deepika Padukone’s tattooed waist to the well cut first promo; the film looked stunning (only Dabangg promos looked as exciting before this one). Well done the production design team (CROP) and the art director, Shazia Zahid Iqbal; you nailed it! There were some cool lines in the film that were funny and extremely smart (dialogue, Charudutt Acharya)… Styling by Falguni Thakore was a little over the top at places, especially with the women but nothing really to complain about; they all looked good (with the exception of Aditya Pancholi who is so 90s and didn’t fit in this stylish flick). The camera work by Amit Roy was great and he managed to give the film a feel that suits the title.

All good, except a few places where they over did it… like in the song ‘Thayn Thayn’, which may have appeared cool to the makers but could have been done away with. Similarly, the much talked about title track with Deepika (she never looked better) had some stunning moments that were ruined by tacky lyrics (Jaideep Sahni you are way too good to dole out such stuff). The background score was quite nice and the original Dum Maaro Dum (from Hare Rama Hare Krishna, 1971) guitar riff was incorporated well; kudos to Midival Punditz and Karsh Kale. Otherwise, the original music by Pritam was below average and most songs could’ve been done away with.

Coming to the screenplay, it is the strength as well as the weakness of the film. Shridhar Raghavan mounts a great plot that reminds you of Nat Geo’s Jailed Abroad as well as Bolly-thrillers of the 70s. Till the interval, the film moves at a breakneck pace and then falters, only to come back with a killer twist (in true Raghavan style, remember Khakee), which I really believe could have been handled better by the director and the editor (Aarif Shaikh).

Performance wise, it is the return vehicle for Abhishek Bachchan who is very convincing as Kamath, a fearless cop on a mission to get Goa rid of the drug mafia. Bipasha Basu as Zoe fits the bill but doesn’t shine; how I wish Zeenat Aman was younger enough to do this role. Aditya Pancholi as Biscuita (yes, you read it right) is ok but we could have done with a much smarter and meaner baddie here (think Ajay Devgn in a meatier role). Prateik Babbar aka Lorry is brilliant as a young, innocent guy stuck in the drug trafficking mess. He is an actor to watch out for as he is able to comfortably change basis the character. Finally, Rana Daggubati, the Telegu film-star who made his Bolly-debut with this film… he is good and the girls seem to love him; guess a star is born.

Overall, Dum Maaro Dum is worth a watch but don’t expect too much… Aapki Sewa Mein Janhit Mein Jaari…

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

 

Love Aaj Kal

 

Imtiaz Ali’s Hat Trick

  
Pic: bollywood-stars.net
Pic: bollywood-stars.net

 

I finally watched Love Aaj Kal… watched it in the second week only but it seems too late as most of the people I know have seen it (reminder to self, never miss a film in the first weekend). Some loved it and some did not (someone I know even called it a ‘Snooze Fest’)… The film has also managed a record opening week at the box office, thanks to smart marketing and great expectations from the writer-director, Imtiaz Ali because of his last hit, Jab We Met (2007).

I neither loved the film, nor hated it… I simply enjoyed it. It is a simple film about the confused generation today and the idea of love yesterday and today. Imtiaz has been following this theme of confusion and love since his debut, Socha Na Tha (2005) and later with the blockbuster, Jab We Met. His stories are usually simple, his characters relatable, narrative always interesting; and with this flick, Imtiaz yet again delivers an entertainer.

The highlight of Love Aaj Kal is the love story set in the sixties. Saif Ali Khan plays Veer Pratap Singh, a Sikh boy from old Delhi, madly in love with a local girl, Harleen Kaur (played by Brazilian model, Giselli Monteiro). The idea of love in that era where all conversations happened through stolen glances is beautifully captured in sepia tone. Rishi Kapoor plays Veer Pratap Singh in the current times and as usual is a delight to watch. Neetu Kapoor (Singh) as Harleen shines in her thirty second cameo in one of the most romantic scenes in the film. Giselli looks straight out of a village in Punjab; she is a little raw but endearing. Saif Ali Khan does a great job as Veer and is his usual lover boy as Jai Vardhan Singh in the modern love story part. Deepika Padukone looks great and gives a decent performance as Meera Pandit, a career oriented, modern woman. She might be a fabulous model but is not a great actress; however, she appears quite natural and comfortable in her character.

Apart from the engaging narrative that moves between Kal (yesterday) and Aaj (today), the film’s light, chatty and contemporary (read, non-filmy and melodramatic) dialogues makes it an enjoyable watch. Special mention for the film’s cinematographer, Natarajan Subramaniam who has captured the film beautifully, especially in the sixties part. Music director, Pritam has done a good job and thankfully the songs form a part of the narrative.

I recommend the film to everyone who enjoys Bollywood romances. It is not as good as Jab We Met but is definitely a nice entertainer. I also recommend watching, Socha Na Tha on DVD; it is a delightful film about youngsters confused about love and marriage. Abhay Deol and Ayesha Takia are mint fresh and remind you of Aamir Khan and Juhi Chawla from Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak.

My Rating for Love Aaj Kal: * * * ½ Three and a half stars (on five)

– Shrey Khetarpal

Pic: planetbollywood.com
Pic: planetbollywood.com

New York

 

Entertainer with a message…

Picture courtesy: Yash Raj Films
Picture courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Congratulations Kabir Khan, Yash Raj Films, Bollywood fans and Katrina Kaif. Kabir because he has once again delivered a good film but this time it seems that commercial success will not elude him (the docu-maker’s first mainstream film, Kabul Express was critically acclaimed but didn’t make a lot of money). Yash Raj Films for supporting a project that goes beyond candy-floss romance and run-of-the-mill entertainment; also because their dry run seems to be coming to an end as after Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi’s success, this film also has opened well. Bollywood fans because after a long-long time, we have a decent film to watch. And Ms. Kaif who finally got a film where she had scope to act and yes, she delivered!

New York touches upon the subject of post 9/11 prejudices and the human rights violations committed by the US government against ‘suspected’ terrorists. The film focuses on the lives of three friends, Sam (John Abraham), Omar (Neil Nitin Mukesh) and Maya (Katrina Kaif) and how their lives get impacted after the attacks. The film highlights the plight of 1,200 men from religious minorities who were detained after the attacks for suspected terror connect. Keeping in mind a larger audience, the director keeps the torture sequences to a minimal but impactful.

Performance wise, Katrina Kaif and Irrfan Khan (as FBI agent, Roshan) shine; Irrfan because he is a fine actor and Katrina because you least expect her to. Finally, the actress got a film where she had a well defined character; she was not only convincing as an Indian-American (thanks to her accented Hindi) but was also good in emotional scenes. John Abraham is good and handles the changes in his character well. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets a tough character and it seems too challenging for the new actor; he tries hard but it shows.

There are many loopholes in the film and at times it reminds you of other movies (a scene where Katrina is frisked by a cop reminds you of an important scene from Crash, Oscar winning film on the theme of racism and intolerance) but overall the film comes together, thanks to a taut screenplay by Sandeep Srivastava. Cinematography by Aseem Mishra is first rate and music by Pritam is not memorable at all (top it with plagiarism charges).

I definitely recommend New York as an entertainer with a message. For those who would like to watch other films on similar theme, I recommend Shoaib Mansoor’sKhuda Kay Liye (2007, Pakistan) and Gavin Hood’s ‘Rendition (2007, USA). Khuda Kay Liye is a bold film about religious profiling and the contrast between Islamic extremists and liberals. Rendition focuses on the subject of extraordinary rendition where suspected terrorists are secretly and unlawfully transferred to countries known to employ harsh interrogation techniques (read torture). Starring Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Omar Metwally; the film packs extraordinary performances by the cast and a gripping screenplay. Catch these two films on DVD and for now do watch New York at a theatre near you…

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

– Shrey Khetarpal