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.

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Good Night Good Morning

Love, heartbreak & a phone call…

Good Night Good Morning; Source: Wikipedia

“I used to believe in love or Santa, but then you grow up…” says Moira. “What’s Christmas without Santa?” asks Turiya. Sudhish Kamath’s (director, producer) Good Night Good Morning is not your usual film but is more like a piece of conversation you become a part of; except you stay silent and just watch the lead pair talk. It is romantic, heart breaking, funny and a refreshingly entertaining film that reminds you of Richard Linklater’s beautiful films, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Despite the plot similarity, where two perfect strangers start talking and fall in love, Kamath’s film is quite different in treatment.

Good Night Good Morning (GNGM) is smartly written (Kamath & Shilpa Rathnam) and holds your attention through its eighty-one minute run time. The starkness of black and white frames, the split screens and the wonderful use of music make the film even more interesting and engaging. It opens with the shots of New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square, New York and quickly moves to the setting that stays throughout – a hotel room with a single woman in transit and four drunken men driving from NYC to Philadelphia. The rest of the film follows the all-night phone conversation between the girl, Moira and one of the four guys, Turiya. In a film that only has two people talking, you require actors who can make it look effortless and GNGM’s stars, Seema Rahmani and Manu Narayan excel in their parts.

Coming back to the clever writing, GNGM delves into many issues and questions that plague modern relationships; some in a serious way and some in a light-hearted manner. If you’ve ever fallen in love or have been in a relationship, you’re bound to find something personal there.

Not the usual Bollywood or even Hollywood fare, GNGM is an excellent film that transcends boundaries and is truly international cinema; kudos to PVR Director’s Rare, for giving it a mainstream release in January this year. The film is no longer running in the theatres but you can watch it on DVD; it is available at leading stores and online.

– Shrey Khetarpal

Rockstar

The Magic of Kapoor, Rahman & Chauhan

Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar features three rockstars – the leading actor, Ranbir Kapoor in his best performance till date; A R Rahman with a brilliant soundtrack and Mohit Chauhan, whose vocals infuse magic in Rahman’s score and Kapoor’s performance. The other thing that works and does not work in equal parts is the film’s screenplay by Ali. The film has a good premise and the first half is engaging; however, the second half drags and you want it to get over quickly.

Writer-director, Imtiaz Ali knows how to handle romance well and like his earlier films (Socha Na Tha, Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal),

Rockstar also features confused lovers who separate and then re-discover love for each other. However, this film is as much about music, as it is a love story. The film’s most memorable and impactful parts are about Ranbir’s musical journey… from a young aspiring singer who is not sure what his music is lacking to the heart-broken, frustrated and bitter rockstar who does not like himself. Coming back to the love story; while there is Ali’s tried & tested formula and Ranbir’s passionate portrayal of someone madly in love; the romance in the film does not work, mainly because of the leading lady, Nargis Fakhri. She looks beautiful but her complete inability to act does not allow you as a viewer to feel for her character. She fails to bring alive the exuberance of a free-spirited college girl as well as the tragedy of a woman in a doomed romance.

Ranbir Kapoor as Janardhan Jakhar, a young Jat boy from Delhi is charming and endearing. His mispronunciation of English words and the Haryanvi accent highlight the character’s innocence and simplicity. As an actor Ranbir soars as he makes an effortless transition from Janardhan to Jordan – a rising musician to a rebellious star. He brings in a lot of passion and sincerity in his performance, which becomes the film’s biggest strength. Special mention for the film’s stylist, Aki Narula who has done a brilliant job in building the character; he presents Janardhan in cheap denims and hand-knit sweaters, and Jordan in a disheveled, eclectic look.

Ranbir, Shammi Kapoor; http://www.rockstarthefilm.com

The film is full of memorable moments and most of them are linked to its beautiful soundtrack (lyrics: Irshad Kamil). True to the film’s title, A R Rahman uses a lot of guitar in the score but the real magic comes alive with the use of sufi, folk and classical forms. The instrumental, ‘Dichotomy of Fame’ shot with Ranbir on guitar and the late Shammi Kapoor on shehnai is pure cinematic and musical genius (Balesh on shehnai & Kabuli on guitar). ‘Sadda Haq’ by Mohit Chauhan has already reached the levels of a youth anthem; ‘Nadaan Parinde’ with Rahman and Chauhan’s vocals grows on you and so does ‘Katiya Karun’ (Harshdeep Kaur & Sapna Awasthi). However, the big music moment of Rockstar that does not leave your mind long after the film is over, is the sufi track, ‘Kun Faya Kun’ with Rahman, Chauhan and Javed Ali’s voice and a brilliantly shot video at Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah in Delhi. With nine out of the fourteen tracks featuring his vocals, it is undoubtedly Chauhan’s big album; he brings alive the pain and the agony that matches Kapoor’s sincere performance brilliantly.

While Kapoor, Rahman and Chauhan took the film to the next level; the film’s tedious length, sloppy second half and Ms. Fakhri’s acting pulled it down. Rockstar is a film that could have been great cinema but is still a great piece of art in many departments. It is a film to watch and to watch it in a theatre to experience the music in Dolby digital sound and no less…

My rating for the film: *** ½ Three and a half on five

Band Baaja Baaraat

 

Shaadi Mubarak –Wedding Planners of the Year

 

Pic: Yash Raj Films

Super bored of the designer romantic comedies released this year (read my earlier column, Rom Com Gone); I was looking forward to Yash Raj Films’ Band Baaja Baaraat (BBB) as the promos looked tacky (in a nice way) and fun. The film thankfully lived up to its promise of ‘Fultoo Dhamaal, Mother Promise!’ Yes, that’s the copy they’re using in the film’s promotional material. And that’s the kind of writing the film has, which makes it enjoyable. Written by director, Maneesh Sharma (story) and Habib Faisal (screenplay), the film’s strength lies in its middle class Delhi feel and the lack of polish making it so endearing.

About the lead pair, BBB has Anushka Sharma who reprises the simple yet feisty girl character again, two years after her debut as Taani in Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi. She plays Shruti Kakkar, a middle class girl from Delhi who has the dreams and the drive to make it big. Opposite her is Bittoo Sharma, played by newcomer, Ranveer Singh; a student in Delhi’s North Campus who wants to do binnesse (business) so that he does not have to manage his father’s sugarcane fields in Sahranpur. Shruti and Bittoo start a wedding planning binnesse in partnership called Shaadi Mubarak and achieve great success by leveraging each other’s strengths. However, the dream run does not last long as they break one major rule of binnesse, mixing vyaapar (business) with pyaar (love). Just like the plot, the film is great fun in the first half but loses steam towards the second only to have a predictable ending.

Anushka is impressive and appears extremely confident, while Ranveer nails the character of Bittoo with his look and mannerisms; Bread Pakore Ki Kasam like he says in the film. A special mention for the supporting cast, mostly unknown actors who fit the characters well; a flower vendor who looks like a flower vendor and not Anupam Kher type actor in bad make-up.

Coming back to the writing, the dialogue is sharp, witty and colloquial; all Dilliwallas can relate to the wrong use of English and Punjabified pronunciation. A large part of the film is shot in Delhi’s residential areas, making it look more relatable. Come to think of it, this kind of depiction of the city is not new but we have loved it again and again in films like Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Do Dooni Char and now Band Baaja Baaraat. Special mention for the production designers, Sonal Choudhry and T P Abid for retaining the Delhi feel and designing the kitschy wedding sequences, the USP of Shaadi Mubarak. Camerawork by Aseem Mishra is nice and some of the wedding sequences look like actual shaadi videos only. A big disappointment is the music by Salim Sulaiman, which fails to match the film’s energy.

Overall, Band Baaja Baaraat is a fun watch and if you’re looking for a light entertainer this week, then go for it.

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Rom-Com Gone

 

Bollywood’s Romantic Comedies fail to impress in 2010

Romantic comedies or rom-coms have worked well in Hollywood and in the recent past the trend has taken off in Bollywood also with movies like Hum Tum, Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal. With young directors at helm, the concepts are more urbane, the look more stylish and the issues more inane in these films. They have the potential to work as they provide two things to the young audience today – relatable themes, “oh! This happened to my friend” and escapism in the form of beautiful people in designer clothes at fabulous locations; however, this year has seen a spate of disappointing rom-coms. This is what I think of Bollywood’s rom-coms in 2010, starting with this week’s release, Break Ke Baad:

Pic: Kunal Kohli Productions

Break Ke Baad

The girl, Aaliya Khan (Deepika Padukone) is more believable than the guy, Abhay Gulati (Imran Khan)… she is independent, headstrong, enjoys attention but no intervention; the guy is sensitive, caring, packs her undergarments neatly in her bags and has no life other than her. Childhood romance wanes off for the girl but not for the guy; she dumps him but he follows her to win her back. From being every girl’s dream guy, Imran’s character slips into this spineless creature who is described as an ATM machine in the film as machines only give not ask for something. Deepika’s character earns the title of a cold heated b*tch (courtesy: my fellow movie watchers) to a chudail / witch (courtesy: Pammi Bua played by Lillete Dubey). Both actors try hard but their limited acting abilities and a lacklustre script don’t help; the fun elements in the first half appear repetitive and boring in the second.

The world is a ridiculously nice place in this Danish Aslam directed rom-com, where Abhay gets visa on arrival in Australia and stays on to build a chain of successful restaurants from scratch in a couple of months. On the other hand Aaliya comes armed with a full scholarship to the University of Goldcoast; checks into a sea-facing resort like accommodation for just 600 Australian Dollars for six months, gets noticed by a casting director in a college play and becomes an international movie star (really now!)

If the girls watching the film with me found it cute in the beginning, the climax disappointed them also in a big way. Break Ke Baad has a lot of smart lines, some good clothes (and some bad), good locations and an average music score (Vishal Shekhar); the film falters with a thread-bare script, the lack of crackling chemistry between the lead pair and the lamest ending in the recent past. The film has an interesting supporting cast featuring Sharmila Tagore, Lillete Dubey, Shahana Goswami and Yudhishter Urs but that’s not good enough to hold the film together. I won’t write off the film completely as the three girls who watched it with me seemed to like it but it certainly isn’t a film that can make it to anyone’s must-watch list.

My rating: * * ½ Two and a half stars on five

Pic: Dharma Productions

I Hate Luv Stories

Well what do I say… doesn’t the film’s title says enough? Boy meets girl, girl believes in candy-floss-romance and the boy hates luv stories (please note, he doesn’t hate love stories, smart!) Directed by Punit Malhotra, the film was produced by Dharma Productions and worked well on the box-office, however I am yet to meet anyone who luved this film. Sonam Kapoor plays Simran, a die-hard romantic whose clothes match her boyfriend Raj’s (Samir Dattani) shirts or vice-versa; she is an art director working on a big ticket romantic flick, directed by a Karan Johar like film maker. Jay (Imran Khan) hates such cinema but is still assisting on the film; he also shows off his newly acquired abs to Bruna Abdullah in a song, to make us believe that he is the new age Casanova. Opposites attract and Simran falls for Jay but Jay hates luv stories, end of chapter one. In chapter two, Jay realises his mistake as he luvs love stories but Simran goes back to Raj who buys her white gerberas daily (remember, daily one red balloon in Dil Chahta Hai?) Chapter three… you know what happens. Punit Malhotra and Sonam Kapoor’s twitter squabble with Shobhaa De after she ripped apart the film in print was more interesting than the film itself.

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: Cinergy Productions

Jhootha Hi Sahi

It was Abbas Tyrewala’s next directorial after the hugely successful, Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na; John Abraham’s first production with music by maestro, A R Rahman. The expectations were sky high with an interesting working title, 1-800-LOVE. The film eventually came out as Jhootha Hi Sahi and all the expectations came crashing down. The music did not work very well (though I like the Cry Cry song) and everyone wondered who this mature actress opposite John is? She turned out to be the director’s wife who was also credited for the script – Pakhi Tyrewala. After all, it is all about loving your family, eh… wife. The film tried to recreate the magic of American sitcoms like Friends and How I Met Your Mother but somehow couldn’t manage to get the same chilled out feel on-screen largely due to the weak screenplay. Having said that, I love the way London’s beautiful summer is captured in the film.

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: PVR Pictures

Aisha

Fantastic promos, an interesting cast, great publicity stills and a peppy soundtrack… Aisha looked like it is going to be the ultimate chick-flick to come out of Bollywood. Inspired by Jane Austen’s Emma, the film ended up to be more like a documentary on the lifestyles of the rich and famous young Delhites. The film surely has great clothes on showcase but one can go to Delhi’s Emporio or Select Citywalk mall to see that or can watch The Devil Wears Prada again. Sonam only looked good and Abhay Deol was wasted in this Rajshree Ojha directed film. Producer, Rhea Kapoor is now thinking of desi Alice in Wonderland with sister Sonam and more fabulous clothes. Hmm…

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: Eros International

Anjaana Anjaani

Two suicidal protagonists, Aakash (Ranbir Kapoor) and Kiara (Priyanka Chopra), who decide to have some fun in the last few days of their lives and end up falling in love. They are both poor but wear trendy clothes, visit hep night clubs at New York’s Times Square and Las Vegas… I quite like their lifestyle actually! They try to die by wrapping cling-wrap around their faces (now you know why it isn’t a toy, keep it out of reach of children) and jumping off a bridge, but they don’t. Fifteen minutes into the film, you start praying for them to die so that the film gets over but they don’t; instead Zayed Khan is also unleashed by director, Siddharth Anand on us to increase the Chinese torture. Both Priyanka and Ranbir are good actors and promising stars but they should look hard at the scripts they choose. Siddharth Anand on his part is creating a library of mediocre rom-coms.

My rating: * * Two stars on five

Pic: Yash Raj Films

 

Pyaar Impossible

As a policy I cannot comment on a film I haven’t seen; and I could not drag myself to the theatre for this one after watching the trailers only, despite all my love for Yash Raj Films.

Pic: Yash Raj Films

 

Band Baaja Baaraat is the last rom-com to hit the screens before the year ends, am hoping the year ends on a bright note for this genre.

 

Shrey Khetarpal


PS: Don’t think that I don’t like romance / rom-coms as a genre; I am just a disappointed film buff. Click here to read my earlier post on the best romantic films according to me.

Guzaarish

 

Lost in search of perfection

Guzaarish; Pic: SLB Films, UTVMP

When the promos of Guzaarish first came out, everyone expected it to be in the league of director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s last film, Saawariya, which sank at the box office. The reason for the comparison was the whole gloomy look and feel that the director created for the new film despite the last one giving the audience blues (literally). If Saawariya was blue-green, Guzaarish is red and black… each frame of the film is highly stylised and put together with artistic finesse. Each image can be exhibited in a gallery as art; however, these frames together fail to ignite the magic that Bhansali’s earlier works created (Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Black). While most disliked the film, I liked Saawariya for what it was, a moody musical and closer to a play than a film. Guzaarish once again falls in the same category and doesn’t hold together as a film as it could have. How I wish, the perfectionist filmmaker obsessed a little less with the way his film looks as little imperfections make things a bit more real.

Guzaarish tells the story of Ethan Mascarenhas (Hrithik Roshan), a renowned magician who gets confined to a wheel-chair after an accident during one of his acts turns him into a paraplegic. Despite his condition, Ethan leads a dignified life running a radio programme on how life is so beautiful and being a role model for many. One fine day he decides to say adieu and files a petition for euthanasia or mercy-killing to end his suffering. His decision puts a question on another person’s life that revolves around him, Sofia D’Souza (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), his nurse and caretaker for the last twelve years. Sofia’s life has only one motive, which is to look after her master/patient/object of affection, Ethan and with him that may also disappear.

The film mainly revolves around Ethan and Hrithik has done a good job of creating a character who is eccentric, genius, funny, bitter and romantic in equal parts. However, there is one thing that is missing that makes a lot of difference to the film… you are unable to connect emotionally with Ethan the way you did with Michelle in Black or Rizwan in My Name is Khan. In fact, you feel more for Sofia which says a lot about the character and the way Aishwarya has portrayed it. Aishwarya emotes well and says a lot through her expressions without many dialogues; only her loud costumes distract (Sabyasachi). This is one of her best performances and I am beginning to feel that roles that require her to speak less and emote more, suit her better; case in point, Guru and Jodhaa Akbar. There is an interesting supporting cast in the film that completes the picture – Shernaz Patel as Devyani Dutta, Ethan’s lawyer is good and so is Rajit Kapoor as the public prosecutor; Aditya Roy Kapoor as an aspiring magician is as impressive or unimpressive as his last outing in Action Replayy; Nafisa Ali as Ethan’s mother is graceful and Suhel Seth as his doctor is just about tolerable (better than his prime time news appearances). Model, Monikangana Dutta’s much talked about debut in the film as Estella Francis, Ethan’s ex-girlfriend pans exactly three and a half scenes; and she doesn’t shine in them.

Coming to the technical department, music by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is termed soulful by many but I find it very average; a better soundtrack could have lifted the film a few notches up. Screenplay by Bhansali and Bhavani Iyer is extremely laidback making the film seem long even if the duration is only two hours. Sudeep Chatterjee’s cinematography is beautiful and Sumit Basu’s art direction is good as per the director’s brief; however, the heavy Portuguese hangover does not quite go with the times we live in today. Same with Sabyasachi’s costumes for Aishwarya that look beautiful for a ramp show but on a nurse, they look outlandish. I am not saying that she should have been dressed in drab clothing but the Indo-Spanish look made her look a little unbelievable.

Guzaarish has its moments and I enjoyed it in parts… the opening sequence that shows Sofia’s daily routine with Ethan is one such part and drive outside the house is another. Unfortunately, the whole here is not greater than the sum of its parts. On another level, I think that we, and I mean the audience here, do not understand the artist called Sanjay Leela Bhansali, perhaps the same way he doesn’t understand us anymore. Do watch Guzaarish if you like any of the lead actors or the director or have the patience to appreciate each picture you see on screen. Once again, Guzaarish is not a bad film but is certainly not a master stroke.

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

Kites

  

A mish-mash tribute to Hrithik

 

Kites; Pic: Filmkraft, Source: Wikipedia

 

Indian critics have ripped it apart, while American critics have been kind to the film… Hrithik Roshan’s much hyped crossover flick, Kites fails to soar but is it really that bad? I don’t think so. It certainly is not a good film but is also a victim of too much hype and extremely high expectations. Filmmakers should really be careful about marketing their films; too much or too little does not work… coming back to the film, Kites is a tribute to Hrithik Roshan, his physique, his dancing, his green eyes and even his singing, which by the way is not that great. It may work well for the actor as a PR exercise in Hollywood as his international looks have been fully exploited here. The film’s leading lady, the much talked about Mexican actress, Barbara Mori also manages to get some screen space alongside Junior Roshan. She is undoubtedly hot and manages to hold your attention.

Kites is actually a brave attempt by director, Anurag Basu and writer-producer, Rakesh Roshan; while they have tried to reach out to the global audience, they have alienated a large chunk of Hindi speaking viewers as over 60 percent of the film is in English or Spanish and there are no Hindi subtitles. The film tries to offer a bit of everything… romance, action, comedy, dancing but does not manage to excel in anything. The promos said ‘passion knows no language’, and how I expected the film to live up to that. Stealing shy glances and a few kisses here and there do not define passion. Passion is what Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem displayed in Vicky Christina Barcelona or Jonathan Rhys Myers and Scarlett Johansson shared in Matchpoint, both Woody Allen films. Talking of Matchpoint, Kites shares a similarity in the plot where two gold diggers attach themselves to rich siblings but end up falling for each other. Another film with striking similarities is Thelma & Louise; Kites heavily borrows its second half from this Ridley Scott classic. Having said that, Kites lacks the edge and the chutzpah of both these films.  

I have a major problem with the dialogue in the film as well; who in this world talks like this: “Don’t leave me my love… stay with me my love”, are we thinking of modern Romeo & Juliet here and that too in Vegas! The lead pair looks stunning in the film thanks to their natural good looks and breathtaking cinematography by Ayananka Bose. However, they are shabbily dressed for most part, which is unpardonable in a film that is supposed to be high on the style quotient (fashion director – Suneet Varma with additional styling by Anaita Shroff Adajania for Hrithik). The supporting cast seems straight out of a Feroz Khan film in the eighties (Kabir Bedi, Nick Brown)… fake accents and names like Tony and Bob (what breed, I wanted to ask). Kangana Ranaut hardly has a role and does not get to say ‘You Besterd’ even once.

Coming to the dancing. Hrithik plays a dance instructor and one expected some hot moves in this supposedly ‘passion’ driven film. Here also, we do not get much; there is a dance sequence with Hrithik and Kangana but there are so many cuts in the shots that you can’t follow an impressive move completely (they could’ve taken some inspiration from Dirty Dancing as well). Rajesh Roshan’s music also disappoints and I wish there was a lot of fusion of Spanish and Indian sounds. Anyways, once again Bollywood teaches us a lesson, leave your expectations out of the cinema hall.  

Overall, Kites is a below average film but do watch it if you’re a Hrithik fan.

My rating: ** two stars on five

– Shrey Khetarpal

 

It’s Complicated

 

It’s enjoyable…

Pic: It's Complicated; Source: Wikipedia

It is always a joy to watch Meryl Streep on screen; she defines what we call ‘screen presence’. An otherwise average film, It’s Complicated depends heavily on this talented actor to make it good. Written and directed by Nancy Meyers, it is a romantic comedy that tackles subjects like marriage and divorce in a light hearted yet sensitive manner.

Jane (Meryl Streep) is a divorcée who runs a successful bakery and has finally come to terms with her divorce with Jake (Alec Baldwin), a lawyer. She stays alone happily with her grown-up children away, and bitches about her ex-husband’s much younger wife, Agnes (Lake Bell) with her bunch of girl-friends. Everything is fine till she goes to New York to attend her son’s graduation. She ends up getting into an affair with Jake and secretly enjoys being the other-woman.  To add to the complication, there is another divorcée, Adam (Steve Martin), Jane’s architect who also likes her.

The film has some genuinely funny sequences including one where Jane goes to a plastic surgeon and smokes a joint before attending a party thrown by her children. Though funny, Alec Baldwin’s stripping scenes are not a pleasant sight. Performance wise, Meryl does not disappoint; she is charming, believable and genuinely funny. Steve Martin in a somber character is very good; you empathise with him and want him to get the girl. Somehow, I am unable to digest Alec Baldwin opposite Meryl Streep; while he suits the character well, he is just not charismatic enough to match up to her.

It’s Complicated is smartly written and beautifully shot (Cinematography: John Toll). Special mention for the production designer and the stylists who make the film look great. Overall, it is quite enjoyable and if you like Meryl Streep, you won’t be disappointed…

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

Shrey Khetarpal

 

My Name Is Khan

A triumph of love, faith and determination…

Pic: MNIK; Source: planetbollywood.com

“My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist” – this is what Rizwan Khan wants to tell the President of the United States of America and you join him in his journey from the moment the film starts. Gripping, heartrending and moving, My Name Is Khan (MNIK) is director, Karan Johar’s best film till date with career best performances by the lead pair, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. The film has its flaws from the cinematic point of view but who is interested in all that crap! My Name Is Khan goes straight for your heart and affects you emotionally; it makes a statement that is not new but is made in a bold manner; it is a film that will make history.

Shah Rukh Khan plays Rizwan Khan, a Muslim man suffering from Asperger Syndrome* who loves his wife, Mandira (Kajol) to death; though he does not like to talk about death. Their world is full of love and happiness but it all changes after the 9/11 attacks. Tragedy strikes and they drift apart; and Khan embarks on a seemingly impossible journey to meet the President and win back his love.

Written by Shibani Bhathija, MNIK is a brave film with an unusual plot that hopefully will encourage other film makers to try something new and relevant. Overall, the film has an arresting screenplay that falters a bit in the second half but in the end it all comes together. Hats off to Karan Johar for handling the script so well that could have become quite preachy; with this film he moves away from his usual candy-floss style (though not entirely) but remembers that it has to be entertaining as well.

Shah Rukh and Kajol once again prove that they truly are the best on-screen pair, which makes their love story extremely convincing and endearing. Kajol is simply outstanding as a strong woman of substance who goes through a lot of ups and downs in her life. Shah Rukh Khan disappears from the film after the opening credits as you do not notice the star but only Rizwan Khan. The film also boasts of a fine supporting cast with Sonya Jehan (as Hasina, Khan’s sister-in-law), Zarina Wahab (as Khan’s mother) and child actors, Tanay Chheda (as young Khan), Yuvaan Makar (as Sameer, Mandira and Khan’s son) and Kenton Duty (as Reese, Sameer’s best friend) delivering good performances.

Shankar, Ehsaan and Loy’s music goes extremely well with the mood of the film. Not the usual chart-busters, the Sufi style songs are soulful and grow on you as you watch the film. While ‘Sajda…’ became an instant hit during the promotions of the film, ‘Tere Naina…’ is the song you take with you after leaving the theatre (Lyrics: Niranjan Iyenger). Ravi K Chandran’s cinematography is brilliant and so is the editing by Deepa Bhatia. Manish Malhotra (styling) and Mickey Contractor (make-up) make Kajol look fabulous.

My Name Is Khan is about love, tolerance and peace; it is easily one of the most significant films in the recent times. Go watch it and you would find yourself rooting for Khan, laughing with him and crying for him.

My rating of MNIK as a film: * * * * Four stars on five

My rating of MNIK as a fan: * * * * * Five stars on five

Shrey Khetarpal

*An autism spectrum disorder, people with it show significant difficulties in social interaction, along with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests – Source: Wikipedia

Ishqiya

 

Saucy, Bold and Wild…

Pic: Ishqiya; Source: planetbollywood.com

 

This is a film that teases you, surprises you and even mocks you as it takes unexpected turns throughout its 2-hour plus screenplay. Abhishek Chaubey’s first directorial venture, Ishqiya is a wild film that keeps you hooked from start to finish. Not your usual romance, it mixes the love angles between the principal characters with adventure, humour and bold writing.

Ishqiya is about two thieves, Khalu Jaan (Naseeruddin Shah), a 50-year old romantic and Babban (Arshad Warsi), a lustful rogue. They are on the run from their boss whom they have cheated and find refuge with an old friend’s widow, Krishna (Vidya Balan) near Gorakhpur (Eastern UP). Krishna is not what they had expected; she is a mystery that they both seek to unravel. Is she an innocent damsel in distress or a conniving seductress; is she in love with Khalu or with Babban; the director keeps the audience also guessing till the end. All actors deliver brilliant performances but Vidya walks away with the film as she gets the meatiest character.

The strength of Ishqiya lies in its brilliant writing (Abhishek Chaubey, Vishal Bhardwaj and Sabrina Dhawan) including the screenplay and the caustic dialogue (Vishal again). The only downside is the film’s climax that does not quite live up to the exciting tone of the film. The film’s music is another big strength with Vishal Bhardwaj (music) and Gulzar (lyrics) pairing up again after last year’s superb score of Kaminey. ‘Dil Toh Baccha Hai Ji…’ is rendered beautifully by Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Rekha Bhardwaj’sAb Mujhe Koi…’ stays with you like a haunting melody.

Highly recommended.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars on five

Shrey Khetarpal