Laal Haraa Neela Peela…..

Spoiler Alert…3/5

Ram Leela is a flawed SLB painting on Shakespearan canvas.

Pick up the plot of Romeo-Juliet, add a dash of violent Gujju flavour, rehash Hum Dil De Chuke’s music, garnish with good actors playing unidimensional, crazy characters and voila… Your greasy gravy is ready.

The movie starts off with a kiss & bang, continues with bang bang and ends with a kiss bang bang bang….and that’s where the problem lies. There r no breathers, the star-crossed ‘lust’ers have no reason to fall in love or get separated or finally knock each other out. Nor do their pig-headed families!

Fantastic dialogues, cinematography and excellent acting by Ranveer, Deepika & the entire cast save the day…But the real surprise package is Supriya Pathak as Godmother….

SLB creates an energetic ambience in the first hour which becomes tedious because of random plot movements, dozen songs and thousand gunshots…

Go watch it once if u liked Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Ishaqzaade or Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak. This one’s a medley of all 3.

Agneepath vs Agneepath!

Everytime I hear the kohl-lined Amitabh Bachhan spew out the words ‘VIJAY DINANATH CHAUHAN’ on a re-run, the hair on my hands stand up and there are goosebumps all over. Such is the effect, even 2 decades after he first mouthed those dialogues in front of Vikram Gokhale in Agneepath, a heavy blood and gore revenge saga of the 90s.

So, with much trepidation and nervous excitement I landed up to watch the much-awaited remake, to see how the 2 Karans have stepped up to one the most iconic plates of Indian cinema. And disappoint they do NOT. Thankfully, the 2012 version is a completely different take on the screenplay and characters, with the same basic plot. And Hrithik adequately compensates through his eyes, where he lacks in terms of Big B’s amazing baritone.

This is not a movie review, rather just a quick & dirty comparison of the two equally impressive, potboiler movies!

Also, enjoy links to some of the best scenes and characters from the original.

 AGNEEPATH 1990 2012
Vijay Dinanath Chauhan (Protagonist)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GAQEhnEWTmE

9/10

Big B looms in a larger than life figure and toys the movie and our hearts with a deep, gruff baritone. (Maut ke saath apinment, hay!)

8/10

Hrithik takes a U-turn here and underplays the character, with a raging angst and pain played right through his eyes in every scene.

Kancha (Antagonist)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rDKNMliIOQY&feature=fvwrel

6/10

Danny Denzongpa, as Kancha Cheena was a stylized, suited- booted don of Mandwa who gets towered and buried under the Big B’s persona in the movie.

9/10

The bulked up, bald Sanjay Dutt shaves off his eyebrows and casts a dark shadow over the screen, and overshadows everyone else in the movie.

Rauf Lala (Antagonist) 5/10

Didn’t exist in the original, but there was a combination of 4-5 characters as a gang of Mumbai warlords in place. Mainly caricaturish Bollywood villains of those times.

7/10

Rishi Kapoor in a fantastic, negative turn surprises all and sundry as the despicable, evil kasai. Finally the actor does justice to his talent by selecting such a role.

Krishnan Iyer MA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SPIg4i3JR3A

6/10

An over-the-top Mithun Chakraborthy hams through a few scenes but is an endearing support to BigB’s Vijay in the original

 

Done away here because of the new screen-time accorded to the evil Rauf Lala.

Young Vijay

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eGtAJn4QLY

7/10

Master Manjunath was riveting in the original. Cute and innocent in the initial few scenes and rough-edged in the transformation later.

5/10

Decent performance by the young boy here, though I didn’t find it powerful enough

Other Chauhans

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XKy_4sF_1jE

7/10

Rohini Hattangadi and Alok Nath still remain etched in memory, despite their limited screen time but more than competent work in some great scenes. (Neelam was a waste, though)

5/10

Zareena Wahab and co are competent but don’t leave an impression to last beyond the movie hall.

Other Elements

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_u7OYVbfAs

7/10

-Mukul Anand made a potboiler which ran on the steam of some memorable characters, a great background score and seeti-inducing dialogues enhanced by Big B.-Nothing great about the plot, music, cinematography though the 1st point more than makes up for the flaws.

7/10

-Karan Malhotra impresses by re-making the movie with creating altogether new, but equally memorable characters led by Kancha and the same old plot.-Better production values, especially the cinematography and also a deeper, emotional connect  for the central character’s pain.

OVERALL 3.5/5 3.5/5

On a personal note, for me the most memorable part of the movie still remains the heart-wrenching verse of Harivansh Rai Bacchan, (beautifully shot under a  banyan tree – which in itself becomes an important character)

Vruksh ho bade bhale,
ho ghane ho bhale,
Ek Patra chhah bhi mang mat, mang mat, mang mat,
Agneepath, Agneepath Agneepath…

Tu na thamega kabhi tu na mudega kabhi tu na rukega kabhi,
Kar shapath, Kar shapath, Kar shapath,
Agneepath, Agneepath, Agneepath…


Ye Mahan Drushya hain,
Chal raha Manushya hain,
Ashru, Sweth, Rakta se Latpat Latpat Latpat..
Agneepath, Agneepath, Agneepath…

Players – Movie Review

Go for Gold, but please don’t dig for it in your nose, which I literally did as the movie went on and on for nearly 3 hours.

First of all, for the bottomline driven – it’s a 2/5 stars for this Abbas-Mustan directed desi rip-off of the Italian Job. And both stars are reserved only for the director-duo who dress like Jeetendra, and usually make tadakedar spaghetti noodles in shudh desi ghee. But this time it’s the 3rd Burmawala brother (the editor), who loses out on an additional star due to the 30 minute overtime.

Plot & Direction:

The storyline stays partially true to the original, only to the extent of being a heist by a motley team of thieves (oops..Players), with a renegade lurking in the shadows. The 1st half is an entertaining straight-laced robbery of a trainload worth of gold, headed from Russia to Romania (Keralites in the movie hall moaned orgasmically, everytime the shine sparkled on screen). Btw, some random world war 1 angle has been inserted to intellectualize a basic ‘chor pe mor’ movie. The 2nd half is where it starts falling apart, as the movie boils down to a long-drawn revenge saga with several inane twists.

It’s not as slick as the original because of the copious bursts of drama, comedy & music forced in, to try and make it a masala poppadom flick.  Only some areas are well covered like the cinematography and beautiful Russian snowy locales. Also a few of the scenes are hilarious (whether they are meant to be or not is a debate, reserved for some other day). Examples: 1) Bipasha Basu adding boosters on the top of a dilapidated train to make it zoom faster! OR 2) Johny Lever’s servant as a Kiwi gora – Ramu Kaka who serves chai, draped in a dada kondke get-up. OR 3) The Russian cribbing about how Indians want to have a song routine, even before having sex. 

Overall, the movie would’ve worked much better as a pure thriller, without these formulaic paraphernalia.

Acting:

Abbas-Mustan has probably managed to pick up a collage of the worst acting talent available in Bollywood and pasted them together on a single screen. Who in his right frame of mind casts Bobby Deol film after film, for those half-closed eyes as an only effort at expression. He certainly doesn’t disappoint with the consistent Arnold-meets-SunnyDeol terminator look as the illusionist of the team. Thankfully, he’s bumped off after some time in the movie, never to be brought back again.


It’s also unbelievable to fathom that this is the same Abhishek Bacchan who gave us Yuva and Guru. He does Dhoom2 all over again, just that he’s the leader of a pack on the other side of law now. He gets maximum screen time, but as Neil rubs it in every few minutes – ‘How Predictable!’… The only impressive performance of the lot is Neil Nitin Mukesh – his third negative portrayal after Johnny Gadar and Saat Khoon Maaf. His effort is laudable, especially once he starts showing his true colors. (He just needs to tan himself a bit more, lest he wants to make his career playing pale, white ghosts in Vikram Bhatt movies)

The computer hacker, Sonam Kapoor’s acting is certainly inspired by her dad. Unfortunately, she chose MI4 for the inspiration where probably Mr. Kapoor was at his worst ever. Her dialogue delivery and acting here, are pedestrian. The automobile expert Bipasha plays her regular bikini babe self, prancing on both sides of the fence. Of the supporting cast, the trapezium-faced Sikandar Kher is ok as the deaf bomb expert and Omi Vaidya provides comic relief in his failed actor-turned-prosthetic expert act.

Vinod Khanna looks jaded playing the Einsteinian guru of all thieves. It’s unintentionally funny to see him being treated like an ACP by the entire police force! That leaves us with Abbas-Mustan’s man friday, Johhny Lever who unfortunately is also an old shadow of his former self, both as MC and BC. (Yeah, he plays a pair of twins named such!) Most of his gags are force-fed to the audience, though couple of them do bring about a chuckle.

Recommendation

Go watch it if you don’t catch up on too many Hollywood movies and you’ll come back reasonably satisfied. Else, give it a skip and catch the Italian Job re-run on HBO some Friday night!

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara – Movie Review

4 /5 Stars

“Dream what you want to dream, go where you want to go, be what you want to be. Because you only have one life and one chance to do it all.”— Unknown

ZNMD is that road trip, which you’ve always wanted to take but the time hasn’t come yet…Will it ever?

The whiff of freshness in the screenplay, real lifelike characters, beautiful visuals from Spain and Javed Akhtar’s awesome poetry is what makes the movie a must-watch. It works, not because the story or the plot is something innovative – on the contrary there’s nothing new here. (It’s about 3 friends going on a road trip as a bachelor’s pact, before one of them gets married). The movie rather works because it is a slice of life, YOUR life! 4 reasons for the 4 stars:

1) Direction

Zoya Akhtar does it again and how – the screen flows like a mellifluous river which meanders across for 3 laid-back hours. It’s as good as having a piping hot cappuccino on a chilly evening, sitting somewhere at a roadside cafe in Europe. Zoya has managed to make an emotional connect with the audience without bowing down to any sort of formulaic diktats of big budget multi-starrers or even an iota of melodrama. The dialogues, screenplay everything fits into a casual style and is all underplayed with a dash of simple humor, which makes you smile throughout. (Some of the scenes induce more than a chuckle, like the one where the 3 boys break into the Doordarshan tune of 80s in a pissed drunk state). Bollywood certainly needs more female directors!

2) Acting

In a movie premise as simple as this, acting wouldn’t be too much of a problem. Also, there is bonhomie and visibly great chemistry amongst the cast. But 2 people who still stand out of the whole lot are Hrithik Roshan and Farhan Akhtar, for the way they conceal and reveal their pains and misguided focus in life.

Hrithik’s character undergoes a sort of semi-transformation and the one scene highlighting his facial expressions when he comes out of the sea, shows how fast is he achieving mastery over his craft. (And he’s also closest to most of us as a character – the promise to earn a lot of money and retire by the age of 40 is a line we’ve all heard and spoken quire often!). Farhan on the other hand lends spontaneity to his part, mostly as the humor boy with a few well managed serious scenes, which reveal the internal battles he’s grappling with. Katrina Kaif, as usual is the candyfloss and has to maintain a happy-go-lucky tone throughout. (Though she also carries the enviable task of portraying the philosophy of the movie – ‘breathe and live every moment’).

Kalki is the only blah character, who has the stereotypical role of a nagging fiancee. She is quite average in the movie and unfortunately is not eye-candy either. Which leaves us with Abhay who somehow disappoints, despite being the current poster boy of alternate cinema. For starters, he definitely needs voice modulation training, apart from learning to add more layers to his character.

3) Poetry

Javed Akhtar’s poetry is the voice of the movie and the words are one which definitely touch a chord. He pulls out from his bag of tricks, emotions which are buried deep down in everyone’s subconscious – fears, regrets, baggages of the past and stress of the future…Serenity of the presence is what is required in our lives, and he knows very well what we feel deep within. Hats off to the maestro!

4) Spain

Spain as the background character of the movie, is absolutely ravishing in the way it has been captured on celluloid. Be it the serene countryside with feral horses running around, the Tomatino festival, the cobblestone streets or the bull-race in the finale. It is a vivid celebration of color and life under the Spanish sky.

The only star I would deduct is because of a slight slack in the starts, both at the beginning of the movie, as well as post-interval. The 20 odd minutes don’t hold you as well as rest of the film. Also, as far as the music is concerned it flows with the movie, but wouldn’t sound that awesome as a standalone OST. Nothing spectacular on that front, actually.

So go ahead, have a great weekend and live it up ‘cos ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’!

“I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.” — Diane Ackerman

Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows (Part 2) – Movie Review

3 Wands out of 5!

Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real? ~ Albus Dumbledore

This quote picked up from the movie truly reflects the state of mind of Potter fans world over. How many of us wouldn’t want all of this to be true? One wish on the lips of all teens from Beijing to Benaras, and Manila to Macchu Picchu is to magically transport into this make-believe world and continue living in it forever! For millions of muggles worldwide, Harry Potter is sort of an alter-ego…The child-like fantasies, the pangs of teenage and the angst of youth have all been tied by an umbilical cord, as the real world and Hogwarts grew up in parallel in the last 10 years. It’s almost as if the souls are shared in a manner the horcruxes of Voldemort WERE spread all around. But alas all fantasies have to end somewhere, and Avada Kedavra has finally been cast on the Potter series.

Let me start off by saying that those who haven’t read the books or watched the earlier movies, don’t suddenly wake up from your decade-long coma and enter the theaters based on all the hype around. Because it would feel like a pre-schooler reading Einstein’s treatise on the theory of relativity, replete with all the mathematical equations. Accio knowledge? Ain’t happening, buddy!

As for the rest majority – to be honest, the movie actually disappoints. But this is more due to the heavy burden of expectations rather than anything else. The vivid imagery of a book is hard to achieve, especially if it’s supposed to be the grand finale of a tale which has lived in our collective conscious for over a decade and will probably live on for a few centuries ahead. Maybe, if I hadn’t gone with the baggage of memories and pre-conceived images, it would’ve worked better.

HP7D2 is a dark, grim battle of good vs evil and the opening scene of Voldemort using the elder wand and the deatheaters hovering over Hogsmead sets the greyish tone which remains even throughout the 2 odd hours. There is absolutely no respite in terms of any humour or charming little scenes which were the hallmark of the earlier 7 movies. Even the mandatory romantic kisses between Ron/Hermione and Harry/Ginny are fleeting and seem force-fed. Thankfully, some kind of emotional connect with the characters starts happening in the middle half as you can sense the agony and loneliness of Harry. A lump in the throat moment crops up occasionally, especially in the scene when Harry sees apparitions of his parents & Remus Lupin amongst others who died in the past, waging this battle. The last scene sort of gives a deja-vu moment as the circle of the journey ends with a new beginning. (The kids of the 3 musketeers are packed off to Hogwarts just before the ending credits – some creative genius might just pick up the thread from here and start writing on Potter & sons!)

What works best in favor of the movie is the rock-solid story material which has all the core elements of any epic – a gala battle of Good vs Evil, a puny David triumphing over the much stronger Goliath, sacrifices, friendship, etc. etc…Even with regards to the acting, there is absolutely nothing to complain, since all the youngsters have actually grown up with the characters, so Emma Watson is Hermione and Hermione is Emma Watson. This holds true for the adults as well, since majority of the cast has remained unchanged throughout the 8 movies – hats off to the franchise for managing that.

All in all, not to be missed by Potter fans for anything, but if you really want to enjoy it go in with lower expectations, a jumbo tub of salted popcorn, and a cute Patronus tagged along.

It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that. ~ Albus Dumbledore

Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon – Movie Review

The 3 images which stay in the mind, once one leaves the movie hall have nothing to do with the story:

1) Rosie lips-teeth-within Huntington (I personally missed Megan Fox, though), 2) A character actor-autobot which had a beer belly (or was it pregnant?), 3) The title of the movie which doesn’t have a noun after the adjective ‘dark’?

My grammar teacher from school would definitely pull out Michael Bay’s ears out of his face, if they ever chance to meet up somewhere in the bylanes of Mumbai. (or is it a smart-alecy move from the makers to ensure that both ‘side’ and ‘transformers’ can fit in as the missing word?)

Which more or less explains my disappointment over this excruciatingly long movie which reprises the age old formula of good vs bad-The color coded good autobots vs the grey decepticons (backed up by humans on both sides)…To add depth to the script, the makers include landing of the moon, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and a few presidential assassinations as an integral part of the plot.

Once again as July 4 arrives, Hollywood comes out with a movie similar in look & feel to the 1996 movie – ‘Independence Day’ (with shades of Terminator 4), where the planet needs to be saved with ofcourse the US government and citizens in the vanguard!

The special effects and action are stupendous but with every other movie having these as a hygiene factor nowadays, an overdrive without a tight screenplay is actually a downer.

As far as the acting is concerned, Shia Labeouf as the frustrated office boy/world-saver is decent though he hardly has much to say in the second half, apart from jumping around and desperately trying to make a difference where he can actually make none. Rosie whose juicy strawberry lips are deliciously swollen, (probably stung by the 2 tiny rodent-like bots), has nothing to do except show off her now famous Victoria Secrets figure. The machines have maximum screen-time, most of it accorded to Optimus Prime, Sentinel Prime and Megatron playing out their love-hate relationship on the streets of Chicago.

The screenplay is probably the weakest – it starts off well but becomes a cumbersome never-ending battle with somewhat strange reasons to get the machines’ planet Cybertron to earth for re-building! (if using human population as slaves was one of the reasons, the intelligent bots should’ve chosen Beijing or Delhi as the headquarters instead of Chicago?)

Consider me an oddball, but for sheer entertainment value, I preferred our very own home-bred Rajnikanth starrer Robot (who could sing and dance apart from doing whatever these Transformers can!)

Delhi Belly – Movie Review

Delhi Belly is the 4th bottle of chilled Kingfisher Strong you’re having on a balmy Saturday afternoon with a couple of hostel friends in a room full of crap. Yes, you do feel puky after so many beers, but you will want to have one more nevertheless…

‘Delhi Belly’ at best is a good attempt at situational comedy in a country where slapstick is the staple diet for makers…But like Arindam Chaudhary – Aamir does dare to think beyond! The problem with situational comedies is that Indians are not too good at them and the only classic to ever come out of Bollywood was ‘Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron’, which was a few decades back.

The tagline reads Shit Happens and it does happen in ample abundance throughout the movie. Most of it is provided by one of the protagonists (Kunal Roy Kapoor) having a bout of diarrhea, which leads to his crap being exchanged for a box of diamonds and the commotion surrounding the same. This is the simple premise of the plot surrounding the 3 protagonists (Imran Khan, Vir Das and Kunal) ably supported by girlfriends, gangsters, landlords, jewelers and some random family members.

The movie does ensure a few guffaws especially at the cuss words used throughout. Surprisingly, the ones laughing loudest in the theatre hall were a few sari-clad aunties, who usually in the open world would criticize youngsters for even mouthing ‘shit’. (Must say the dialogue writer had it quite easy with  50% of the words being the various grammatical forms of the F word, with a few BCs and MCs thrown in by the gangsters!)….The best of the lot is the analogy which Mr. Tata wouldn’t be too excited to hear – A red nano is described as the result of what happens when a donkey fucks an auto-rickshaw! (Probably reflects correctly the current brand value of the car in the market)

The performances like the movie are quite irreverent & natural (nobody in particular stands out as brilliant or pathetic – A few brownie points to Abhinay Deo – the director for extracting an even tone across the cast) and Delhi’s underbelly as a character blends in subtly too. Ram Sampath’s music is fantastically offbeat though used only in the background (except for the weakest song – Jaa Chudail which somehow doesn’t fit in)

Overall, if you’re in college or are having a boys day out, go ahead and have a fun 2 hours. (Remember to have a beer before you go, incase you really want to laugh your way out)…Do stay back for the post-movie credits, which is Aamir’s ode to Mithun rolled into the garb of Mike Myers, with a hairy chest!

Average movie as far as I am concerned, but well tried Mr. Khan – better luck with a more innovative plot next time!