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.

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Kahaani

A Paisa Wasool Thriller…

Pic source: Wikipedia

Bollywood is not very good with thrillers, especially nothing beyond the fast cars, snazzy hero types… While the Dons and the Agent Vinods create a lot of buzz and earn the moolah, there are hardly any thrillers that play with your mind and keep you on the edge of your seat. Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani successfully manages to do that and Vidya Balan’s superb performance along with the current ‘India’s darling’ status helps the film to draw in the audience.

A thriller with a pregnant woman as the protagonist is something new for the Indian cinema and it seems the viewers are also growing up along with the filmmakers. A few years ago Sriram Raghavan made an excellent thriller called, Ek Haseena Thi starring Urmila Matondkar. It was a slick film with a fabulous plot and a chilling climax. Whoever saw it loved it but the box-office figures were not very encouraging. Thankfully, with Kahaani it is different and the film has already been declared a hit within four days of its release. So what works for Kahaani? Here’s my list (there are minor spoilers in the post):

An interesting story and a clever screenplay (story: Sujoy Ghosh, Advaita Kala; screenplay: Ghosh, Suresh Nair & Nikhil Vyas): The plot is intriguing, about a pregnant woman (Vidya Bagchi, played by Vidya Balan) who comes to Kolkata looking for her missing husband… the screenplay does full justice to it, with smart and at times misleading scenes and situations. Vidya’s condition immediately draws your support and you join her in her search, just like a young police officer, Rana. You are concerned about her well being and actually get worried when you know something wrong is going to happen next. I also enjoyed the dialogues (Ghosh, Ritesh Shah & Sutapa Sikdar) that were peppered with Bengali lines and terms.

Inspired casting: Kudos to the casting director who managed to put together a stellar cast of Bengali actors who make their characters so real and believable. Parambrata Chatterjee as a young cop who assists Vidya in her search is extremely likeable and sincere. Saswata Chatterjee as Bob Biswas is simply outstanding; full credit to the writers for creating an interesting character like Bob – an insurance agent who is also a contract killer. Other characters including the senior pot-bellied police officer, Mona Lisa Guest House receptionist and the little kids, all have done a fabulous job. Finally, Vidya Balan as the lead; I can’t think of another actress who would have been able to pull off this role except her and Konkona Sen Sharma. Vidya once again does a stellar job and is extremely convincing as a pregnant woman who is determined to find her husband. She is vulnerable and at the same time stronger than any of the other characters.

Kolkata: Those who have been to Kolkata will enjoy the film a bit more than those who haven’t. And those who haven’t may want to visit. Sujoy and his team (Cinematography – Setu; Art Direction – Kaushik Das, Subrata Barik) bring alive the many faces of the city on screen – a buzzing metro with traffic jams and crowded local trains; a sleepy town which still appears to be stuck in the last century and a city soaked in celebrations. I almost cheered at the mention of Park Street’s iconic restaurant, Mocambo and at a glimpse of New Market…

Kahaani starts slow and you get a chance to empathise and connect with Vidya. However, once the action begins, you are in for a roller coaster ride. Vidya’s flashbacks about her husband are irritating as they hamper the pace of the film. The film has many loop-holes and a lot of things are a little hard to digest. However, those can be overlooked for the ultimate effect that is created. Music by Vishal-Shekhar is good and goes very well with the mood of the film.

One thing that I did not like about the film is its ending. The director spends too much time in explaining everything after the final revelation or the main climax. The film soars high but lands with a thud. It would have been more impactful if the end was open to interpretation.

Overall, Kahaani is one of the best Hindi films I have seen in the recent times and I recommend you watch it if you haven’t already.

– Shrey Khetarpal

The Dirty Picture

Vidya Balan is Silk, and Silk is entertainment

The Dirty Picture; Source: Wikipedia

“Silk is the only hero in this industry”, says a film journalist in The Dirty Picture and after watching the film, I can also say, Vidya Balan is the only hero in the Hindi film industry. Not because she has ‘dared to bare’ but the conviction with which she’s played the character of Silk – a dancing star from the eighties who knows her sexuality is her biggest strength. While most actors claim to prepare for their roles, there is rarely a performance where an actor completely lets go of any inhibitions and becomes the character on screen. This is where Vidya wins; she looks good, she looks fat, she looks ugly, but she looks and behaves like the charater, Silk in the film.

Apart from Vidya, The Dirty Picture works because of its entertainment factor and Rajat Arora’s sassy writing plays a major role. The dialogues are provocative, shocking and dirty, true to the film’s name. Director, Milan Luthria packs a punch in the first half; however the film goes downward like the lead character’s career in the second half. It starts with a village girl, Reshma (Balan) coming to Madras with big dreams. She struggles, sleeps hungry and almost gives up, till someone offers her Rs. 20 to sleep with him. Her life changes, she gets a big break and the attention of the reigning superstar, Suryakant (Naseeruddin Shah). Silk’s journey to the heights of stardom is extremely entertaining and engaging where two other men appear in her life; Ramakant (Tusshar sans Kapoor), an upcoming writer in awe of her persona and Abraham (Emraan Hashmi), a director who hates Silk and what she stands for. The film soars in the first hour and a half but the last hour is poorly executed as suddenly you feel disconnected from Silk while you’re supposed to empathise with her.

Naseeruddin Shah once again delivers a spectacular performance as a manipulative and selfish star, for whom, women are just objects to entertain. He also has the best lines in the film and manages to match up to Vidya’s pizzazz in an elaborate dance number with kitschy costumes, over the top sets and raunchy moves. The song, ‘Ooh La La…’ is the film’s highlight (Vishal Shekhar – music composers); Bappi Lahiri and Shreya Ghoshal capture the mood perfectly with their vocals and lyrics by Rajat Arora. The other song that works is ‘Nakka Mukka’, which is borrowed (legally) from a Tamil film; it has a catchy beat and helps showcase Silk’sbombaat’ attitude at various intervals during the film. The rest of the soundtrack is nothing great. Coming back to the actors, Emraan Hashmi does a fairly decent job and proves that he can be taken seriously as an actor now. Tusshar tries hard but fades in front of Vidya and Naseer’s powerhouse performances.

The film’s costume designer, Niharika Khan deserves a special mention for capturing the tackiness and razzmatazz of that era and the characters. There is a lot of cleavage on show but I guess that’s another reason the makers (producer, Ekta Kapoor) chose Vidya as the leading lady – her traditional and family oriented off-screen image helped keep the focus on the character and not on the sleaze.

The Dirty Picture is a brave film and shows how Indian filmmakers and the censors have grown – a heroine centric film can be commercially successful and Indians can handle bold subject matter. Go watch the film for three things, as clearly articulated by Silk“entertainment, entertainment and entertainment”.

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

– Shrey Khetarpal

No One Killed Jessica

 

 

Pic source: UTV Spotboy

Power… this one thing that is more abused in our country than it is used for what it’s meant for. From politicians to traffic cops to telephone linemen to the relatives of a bureaucrat; everybody is somebody in our country. The film, No One Killed Jessica opens with the same thought, albeit about the city of Delhi. Delhi, where no one killed Jessica Lall and no one killed Aarushi Talwar. Is it the city or is it the people or is it the system? Director, Raj Kumar Gupta’s second film after the very well made Aamir (2008) tries to ask the same question. No One Killed Jessica is a great attempt at making a hard hitting and brave film based on a real life incident that shook the nation’s conscience. I say a great attempt as the film makes a point but beyond the emotion, it falls short of achieving cinematic excellence.

The film opens with a spectacular credits sequence with the sensational ‘Dilli Dilli…’ track that sets the tone of the film. In fact, the music by Amit Trivedi with Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics is the film’s one of the biggest strengths. Talking about strengths, the film’s leading ladies, Vidya Balan and Rani Mukerji shine as Sabrina Lall and Meera Gaity, a journalist with striking similarities to NDTV’s Barkha Dutt, respectively. The first half of the film belongs to Vidya who sensitively portrays a girl in her twenties who is vulnerable and at the same time determined to get justice for her sister’s murder. Rani makes a powerful comeback with a fiery character and once again shows what a powerhouse of talent she is. I only wish that she was made to scream a little less.  Rajesh Sharma as the chief investigative officer on the Jessica Lall murder case also deserves a special mention; he is believable as a frustrated cop.

With a powerful subject, good performances and a superb soundtrack, No One Killed Jessica could have been an outstanding film. However, the film is not consistent and has its fabulous and dull moments. The film really moves you but also drags in parts; some of the court sequences actually make you cringe due to the way they are shot with extreme close-ups. The film could have been fifteen minutes shorter for a much more impactful narrative (screenplay – Raj Kumar Gupta; editing – Aarti Bajaj). Having said that, hats off to the director and the producers, UTV Spotboy for making a relevant film like this. It is the right time for Hindi cinema to experiment and present real or realistic stories on screen; no matter if it doesn’t have a hero, people will come to watch as I saw today in a packed theatre. I recommend watching No One Killed Jessica once for the subject matter and the great performances by the cast.

My rating: * * * Three stars on five

A note for fellow film lovers: If you are tired of film awards that are not merit based, it is time to take the decision in your hands. Presenting the Tweeple Film Awards! Truly democratic awards that are ‘Of the People’, ‘By the People’ and ‘For the People’, to honour the most deserving in Hindi Cinema 2010. It’s a movement started by film buffs on Twitter to counter the nonsense that ‘Bollywood’ film awards are.

Follow Tweeple Film Awards on Twitter:  www.twitter.com/twi_fi_awards and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/twifiawards. You can also email on twifiawards@gmail.com


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

 

Paa

A rare film about a rare child…

 

How do you define a good film? For me, it is the way the film involves you, engages you and impacts you; if it is a comedy, does it make you laugh non-stop or if it is an emotional film, does it move you? Rarely a film completely lives up to the promise made through its promotion / publicity machinery. Paa lives up to the promise but with a slight difference; it was promoted as a very rare father-son / son-father story but what shines through is the relationship between Auro, a 12-year old child suffering from a rare genetic disorder called Progeria and his mother, Vidya. You connect with Auro, the moment he makes his first appearance and from that point onwards you laugh with him and cry for him.

Amitabh Bachchan is re-discovered in this film as Auro, not only because he has acted extremely well but also because you do not notice him in the film. There is no Amitabh Bachchan in the film but only Auro, who is a happy child despite his medical condition because of which his body has aged to that of an 80-year old. His mother, Vidya (played superbly by Vidya Balan) is extremely proud of her son and is not embarrassed or adversely affected by his situation; in fact she calls him ‘lucky’ in one scene. Abhishek Bachchan as Amol Arte, a young conscientious politician, delivers an extremely confident and restrained performance. His scenes with his son, Auro as well as his father (played by Paresh Rawal) are excellent. Performance wise, the film belongs to Auro and another actor who is a real surprise package – Arundhati Nag, who plays ‘Bum’, Auro’s maternal grand-mother and friend. She has an extremely strong character and proves that screen time has nothing to do with the impact made.

Despite the serious subject matter, writer-director, R. Balki (Cheeni Kum) has given the film a very light feel without losing the grip on the emotions. However, there is too much focus on Abhishek Bachchan’s political endeavours that move away from the main plot. Ilaiyaraja’s music is outstanding and completely involves you with what is happening on screen, especially the violin theme. ‘Halke Se Bole’ and ‘Hichki Hichki’ are two wonderful numbers in the film and credit also goes to the lyricist, Swanand Kirkire. Talking about the technicians, I cannot miss out the prosthetic make-up team that helped bring the character of Auro to screen as well as the brilliant cinematography by P. C. Sriram.

After Taare Zameen Par, Paa is a film that manages to connect the audience so well with the protagonist. In a nutshell, it is a beautiful film that deserves to be watched.

My Rating: * * * * Four stars (on five)

Shrey Khetarpal