Friday, December 20, 2013

Dhoom 3 ...Inconsistently Awesome

The Real People:
Directed & Story by Vijay Krishna Acharya
Produced by Aditya Chopra
Music by Pritam
Background Score by Julius Packiam
Aamir Khan as Sahir
Abhishek Bachchan as Jai Dixit
Uday Chopra as Ali
Katrina Kaif as Aaliya

At a Glance:
Aamir there anything you cannot pull off? Aditya there anything that will make you stop making Dhoom series? Vijay have not improved one bit in your over the top execution skills that were blatantly exhibited in Tashan. Katrina....can you stop looking so amazing!! Uday...high time you realize that you are not carved out to be on this side of the camera and Abhishek...welcome back to re-liking Jai Dixit after the sleepy performance in Dhoom 2!

The people on Screen:
I am willing to write paragraphs about Aamir Khan but I risk revealing things that i should not let you know before you watch the movie yourself. So getting into the characters:

Firstly, Katrina Kaif as Aaliya. Not much of a character other than what she is described in the movie as - Asian Goddess who can sing and dance like liquid electricity. While her appearance is restricted to songs only, Katrina makes sure that she looks absolutely stunning in every frame that she is present in. Her moves in Kamli require a special mention and of course she is awesome in Malang and Dhoom Machale.

Uday Chopra as Ali. Although totally unnecessary, if the character of Ali is a must in this movie, I believe Uday Chopra does complete justice to this unnecessary role.

Abhishek Bachchan as Jai Dixit. We definitely get to see a much more interested and engaged Abhishek in this movie as he goes about being the kewl cop. He is pretty convincing despite the cheesy lines that he is required to say and also is confident in some of the most ridiculous action scenes that could have been imagined for a movie of this scale!

Finally, Amir Khan as Sahir.  Another brilliant performance from the actor who can create magic with no matter what wand he is handed. His expressions are just such perfect depictions of the emotions that the character is supposed to feel and his body language is convincing different depending on what part he is playing in the movie. Aamir keeps the audience engaged and engrossed a 100% every time he appears on screen. Even his acrobatics exhibited in Malang are visual treat. Hats off...!

The Music
Pritam....Pritam...Pritam! Where do you get so much time and talent to be composing for every other movie that comes out in Bollywood and yet churn out amazing chartbusters! Malang, Kamli, Tu Hi Junoon....! A total deviation from the Dhoom series pop-music attitude. The three songs are extremely well composed, perfectly sung and very well penned by Amitabh Bhattacharya. Bande Hai Hum Kiske is a haunting track and is used throughout the movie as part of the background.
The background score is of international standards and provides enough adrenaline rush and intensity that is required, very appropriately.

The Experience:
Yes indeed a very difficult movie to describe from an overall experience point of view. The movie resonates between being a slick thriller and a horrible masala flick so much, that it is almost impossible to decide how good or bad it is as a whole. What I can say for a fact, is that Amir Khan, Pritam and Vaibhavi Merchant are consistently amazing in this movie. The cinematography is avant grade but the action sequences range from thrilling to pathetically unbelievable. It takes only the first 15 minutes of the movie to understand the extremely polarized nature of execution. I suspect Amir Khan probably wrote and directed his scenes separately!

I rate it 3 out of 5. It is not the kind of movie which we would normally have liked Amir Khan to be associated with, but since he is... it makes it worth a watch. The twists in the story, some irregular but substantial writing, some well crafted and executed sequences (eg. the intermission scene) and Amir Khans this movie. The year may not have ended with the kind of Dhoom that we expected it to, but nevertheless, its worth your while. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Shahid ...a shaheed indeed!

The Real People:
Directed by Hansal Mehta
Written by Sameer Gautam Singh, Apurva Asrani & Hansal Mehta
Edited by Apurva Asrani
Music by Karan Kulkarni
Raj Kumar Yadav as Shahid Azmi
Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Arif Azmi
Prabhleen Sandhu as Mariam Azmi
KK Menon as War Saahab

At a Glance:
An important story told very well through some amazing and maybe surprising performances. It moves at a fast pace and yet captures the key milestones in the life of Shahid Azmi effectively. The story's pace is no doubt hampered, now and then, especially in the second half, but the talented Raj Kumar keeps you engaged throughout. The court scenes are riveting and very realistic, unlike what we are used to by indian movie and TV standards! 

The People of screen:
Many characters but one central character....similarly, many great performances but one phenomenal actor! 
Raj Kumar Yadav as Shahid Azmi. What an actor! After having proved his worth in the brilliant Kai Po Che earlier this year, Raj Kumar takes on the challenging role of the title character here. From the early days to the finale, Raj Kumar portraits the various changes and conflicts that Shahid went through. Facial expressions, body language, dialogue delivery, everything is perfect and brought out in front of the camera with full conviction.
Mohammed Zeeshan as Arif Azmi. Not sure if I have seen him in any Anurag Kashyap movie earlier, but he sure does not seem like a newcomer. Meatier role in the first half and a few scenes in the second, this actor surely knows how to express emotions through his acting. Great job done!
Prabhleen Sadhu as Maryam. Another actor who may not have done many or any movies in the past, but gives a very good performance. Not the conventional glamorous heroine, but in fact a very real and undoubtedly convincing Mrs. Azmi, Prabhleen gets into the skin of the character and gives only her best in every frame that she is in.
KK Menon as Waar Saahab. What can anyone say about the immense talent this guy possesses! It is a pleasure watching him deliver dialogues. A very short and indeed a special appearance, and yet...important enough to be mentioned as part of this review!

The Experience:
Perhaps not a movie that requires you to be in the movie theater to enjoy, but definitely a movie that you should want to see without any delay (and therefore going to the theater would be a good idea). The pace of the movie is brisk and the writers don't spend too much time on any specific incident. The movie is firmly carried and must be credited to Raj Kumar's brilliant performance and is very convincingly supported by the remaining cast. There are emotional moments beautifully captured and there are brutal incidents that make you feel sympathetic. While the movie does anger you towards the actions of the lawmakers (not only in India, but also the general stereotyping that happens across the world today), it solemnly tries to depict the dilemmas of the judicial system as well. In the end, the movie is a biopic of a man who was a hero for many and whose story required to be told to the world...and Hansal Mehta does an amazing job at doing just that! The opening and closing lines resonate in your mind long after the movie is over, "By giving me injustice, my God taught me to love Justice".

I rate it 4 out of 5. Despite its faltered pace at times and some gaps and questions that it leaves unanswered, this movie is very well made. It should reinstate our faith in bollywood filmmakers and in our society - There are still some people who insist on swimming against the tide...and end up in places where no one has before. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Gravity - You gotta experience appreciate it

The Real People:
Directed & Edited by Alfonso Cuaron
Written by Alfonso & Jonas Cuaron
Music by Steven Price
Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone
George Clooney as Matt Kowalski
and thats it! :)

At a Glance:
Wow! If there were a more appropriate word to describe this movie, I would be more than happy to use it but for now...I think you get the message loud and clear!? No coms obstruction? No static? Houston do you copy? Wow....I'm still stuck in the movie.

The People on screen:
Two characters and billions and billions of stars...thats the real canvass of this movie! The third and most pronounced character is that of the guy who is sitting behind the camera and calling the shots. So here we go...

George Clooney as Matt Kowalski. The man who makes every girl go aaah...and ooh, gives a great performance all suited up and visible partially through the astronaut's helmet that he wears. His character is brief, yet convincing and breathes the soul into the movie. His presence is felt from the beginning till the end.

Sandra Bullock as Dr. Ryan Stone. When I went in, I knew the movie was mainly about two characters lost in space but for some reason had assumed that Clooney would steal the show. Coming out of the movie....whole different story! Sandra takes over completely and perhaps gives a performance as never before. With literally limited space and one constant stressful circumstance, she delivers a brilliant performance, through her body language, voice expressions and tense facial expressions.

And finally the last two characters....Alfonso Cuaron and Space. While the two protagonists give great performances, the movie is really about daft execution and attention to detail in creation of this masterpiece. This talented filmmaker exploits the premise of the story, i.e. space, perfectly and makes you almost believe that the earth has drifted away from under your feet during those amazing 90 minutes!

The Experience:
Gravity is not a is an experience. If Avatar was a movie which defined/redefined what 3D should be....this is the movie that defines/redefines what IMAX 3D should be! Engaging from the first amazing spacial view of our beautiful planet to the last scene....the movie is as much thriller as it is a human story of survival and as much an inspirational story about experiencing life. Hats off to the cinematographer, Emmanuel Lubezki, for creating a visual treat of this magnitude and a round of standing ovation for Alfonso for fusing these amazing visuals into a beautiful experience, which is much much more than sheer special effects and colorful images of space. There are many aspects about our life here on earth that we take for granted, this movie makes us realize the importance of quite a few of those - friction, air, feeling of earth beneath our feet, etc.

I rate this movie 5 out of 5. A satisfying, thrilling, learning and value for money experience at the movie theater...a rare occurrence where all of these are experienced simultaneously. Eventhough I felt disoriented after I got out of the theater....I know for sure...that this one hell of a ride...that you must not....let go! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 the nearest theaters now!

The Real People:
Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Ron Howard & Others
Background Score by Hans Zimmer
Chris Hemsworth as James Hunt
Daniel Bruhl as Niki Lauda
Olivia Wilde as Suzy Miller
Alexandra Lara as Marlene

At a Glance:
A cinematic achievement. Its like watching a real race but with a many more better angles and views and lot more background story on the racers. 122 minutes literally zoom by and movie never really pauses, makes pits stops or falters from start to finish!

The People on Screen:
Dominated by the two male leads....the pace at which the characters are developed and the impression they leave is applaudable.
James Hunt played by Chris Hemsworth. The perfect depiction of charisma and confidence of a champion and of a stereotyped pro racer. Chris makes it swift and simple for the audience to relate to his attitude towards life and passion for racing. His cheerful expressions compete with his performance in the more grim and serious parts of the movie making it hard to choose where you like him better as an actor. I guess throughout.

Niki Lauda played by Daniel Bruhl. His straight forward and confident attitude make you believe in him all through the movie. This brilliant performance by Daniel conveys the message loud and clear within the first 15 minutes of the movie...that Niki Lauda was out there on serious business. He ensures that you establish a love-hate relation with the actual Niki character, never knowing whether to love and respect the man that he was or get annoyed by his frankness! A class A performance that contributes in a big way to feeling satisfied after watching this movie.
Suzy and Marlene played by Olivia Wilde and Alexandra Lara, respectively. The girls play an effective role in this narrative that solely focuses on its male protagonists. Olivia looks stunning in the movie and Alexndra looks great too. 
The Experience:
A super fast paced movie that gives you no time to think or find any flaws in its narrative. It makes you just sit back and enjoy the ride! Although there are some very disturbing scenes, but their effect on you only goes to prove how amazingly this movie has been executed. There are few but very good dialogues, and the final conversation between Hunt and Lauda gives all the substance that a a typical racing movie would not have (unless you are watching a Disney movie which intends to give the kids some life learnings). The race sequences are guaranteed to take you to the edges of your seats and there are some well-timed special FX (which take you through the engine and pistons of the F1 car)added into the story that makes you one with the racers, their cars and the full-on pressure! 
I rate it 4.5 out 5 for brilliance in execution, maintaining an absolutely engrossing pace and presenting such great performances on screen. If I am not mistaken, this is perhaps the best hollywood movie that I have seen this year, thus far. I have reserved 0.5 points just so that i may be able to give an opportunity to other movies coming up to win over this winner of the year so far!! This one MUST be watched in a theater...Today...rush rush Rush!


Saturday, September 14, 2013

John Day good for a trailer only

Cast & Crew:
Directed & Written by Ashishor Solomon (Debutant)
Produced by  Anjum Rizvi & K. Asif
Background Score by Sandeep Chowta
Naseeruddin Shah as John Day
Randeep Hooda as ACP Gautam
Elena Kazan as Tabassum Habiba
Vipin Sharma as Shinde
Sharat Saxena as Khan

At a Glance:
Some movies appear to have been made only to make an attractive trailer. Some movies are successfully able to rope in talented actors no matter how poorly scripted they are. Some movies manage to ride on the fame of their producers' previous releases. John Day is "all of the above". A disappointing isnt a thriller at all.

So whose in it?
A limited and talented cast plays convincing roles and give beyond average performances for this much
below average movie.
Naseeruddin as John Day. A talent beyond words and an actor who can pull off any role he likes effortlessly....Shah is amazing as he plays the title character. Bewilderment, despair, confusion and anger....all magically get expressed through his eyes and body language. Getting very few dialogues in the movie, he manages to prove his supreme skills and yet disappoints his fans with his choice of movie this time.
Randeep Hooda as Gautam. A character well written and executed by Hooda. His cold eyes and indifferent tone in voice perfectly depict the disturbed background he comes from. He gets some of the best dialogues and yet you wonder how his awesome performance is wasted.
Sharat Saxena and Vipin Sharma as Khan & Shinde respectively. Both give a sincere performance and are perfect for the characters they play. Saxena has some interesting dialogues (which is odd as to why Dons always are so philosophical, be it bolly or hollywood) and Shinde is the perfect representation of talent tarnished by corruption.
Elena Kazan as Tabassum. Pretty and perfect. Even though her hindi is pathetic, she plays the role of an addict nicely and proves that she isnt only about good looks. She is very convincing and gets decent airtime in the movie.

Sound of Music:
Sandeep Chowta...impresses greatly in the opening title track music but then fails to impress as the movie progresses. The background score, while appropriate, is not able to create the impact and play the role that it usually can in such a movie. But that is not necessarily the music directors fault.

In Conclusion...
So all the characters have been performed excellently in the movie, the dialogues are decent, trailer looks good, so is it a good movie? No. A rather rare occasion where all the ingredients are good or at least seem alright and yet the overall product is a mess. While Ashishor is able to extract good performances, he is unable to give a smooth-flowing narrative to his story. He may be ready to assist directors, but he not ready to execute a movie. The movie tries to be noir, mysterious and unique, but fails in being any of these.

In My Opinion:
I rate it 1.5 out of 5. The only saving grace of this movie are its actors without whom John Day would have been a pointless and boring tale. The first half you may sit through expecting that the second half will be able to clear up the confusion and justify the character build-ups and wow you....but all you end up "Wow...why did they make such a pointless and boring movie?!"

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Satyagraha important movie but flawed

Directed by Prakash Jha
Produced by Prakash Jha & UTV
Music by Salim-Suleiman, Aadesh Srivastav, Indian Ocean, Meet Bros.
Lyrics by Prasoon Joshi
Amitabh Bachan, Ajay Devgan. Manoj Bajpai, Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal & Amrita Rao

The culmination of almost all the previous Prakash Jha movies. It is a bit of Gangajal, a bit of Raajneeti, some Aarakshan and overall a typical Jha product. It inherits the merits as well as the drawbacks and does not defy expectations in either space of being this socio-political film-maker's work. Extremely high quality performances, some good dialogues, powerful music and yet...flawed writing make the movie a perfect example of a movie that manages to be just good despite having the potential of being an excellent cinematic experience! 

An ensemble cast, but more importantly, this movie is a rich canvass of supreme talent with each performance being brighter and better than the other. 

Amitabh Bhachan as Dwarka Anand. Not sure if I wanted Amitabh Bachan to have a meatier role because it was a mismatch of my expectations or because each frame he is in is so amazing that you can't ever have enough! His eyes, his expressions, his body would be wrong even if I try to describe the perfection of this legend's acting. Its a pleasure.
Kareena Kapoor as Yasmin Ahmed. Perfectly restrained and mature performance. Her character may be poorly written and might raise lots of questions in your mind about how can a star reporter have nothing better to do than this...but as far as the performance goes....there is no one who could have looked more appropriate or done a better job than Kareena. She looks gorgeous and yet never glamorous.
Arjun Rampal as Arjun. A confusing character - maybe a bit more of black in this gray, but nevertheless, Arjun Rampal does a good job at portraying the role expected of him. He has been much better in some of his more recent movies though. 
Amrita Rao as Sumitra. She makes it obvious that she is out of practice and is having difficulties acting. However she suits the part she plays, if only she wasn't asked to deliver any dialogues! 

and then there is....

Manoj Bajpai as Balram Singh. I went into the movie thinking, " know what..its enough now. I have seen Manoj in enough of such roles." But boy...does this man know how to act. Its extremely difficult for an actor to play a predictable baddie role and yet exceed the expectations of his audience! He is mean, he is bad and he is wicked....but he is amazing! Makes you believe in how selfish and evil the politicians are and single handedly represents all the corruption in the system! Kudos!

Ajay Devgan as Manav. Wow! I say, "Ajay please dont do any more Rohith Shetty movies. Every time you do that, you take away a wonderful opportunity from us of seeing you in a serious role like this one." Despite the whole ensemble cast, it is on Ajay Devgan's shoulder that the entire execution of this movie lies. He pulls it all together from start to finish and perfectly expresses his suppressed internal and, when required, external anger. Full marks to Ajay!
The scope of songs in a movie like Satyagraha obviously is limited. The track "Aiyo Balam" is a very nice fusion track and of course the title track which is an adaptation of Raghupati Raghav is extremely powerful! The background score is very inspiring and definitely plays an important factor in expressing the emotions of the situations. 

The movie arouses the right emotions in your heart. It angers you and inspires you to get up and do something... Bohot Ho Chuka hai Vishraam, Raghu Pati Raghav Raja Ram! 
The plot attempts to get as real as it can and in the process over-indulges itself in incorporating every complication and every debate of what is right and wrong into the 150 minutes. The end result...we get a movie that entangles itself into all the right issues, but loses track due to this and never is able to disentangle itself from anything at all. It is a must watch, but be ready to come out of it with a feeling of wanting more! 
I rate it 3 out of 5. Brilliant performance, some very important and relevant issues, great dialogues and a script that is very realistic in places and too immature in some others...makes this movie good...but prevents it from being how great it could've been. A movie that cannot and must not be skipped, but maybe a little delay in watching might not hurt.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Conjuring - An Investigation worth Watching

Directed by James Wan
Written by Chad & Carey Hayes
Based of investigations of Ed & Lorraine Warren
Music by Joseph Bishara
Vera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Lili Taylor as Carolyn Perron
Ron Livingston as Roger Perron

The skeptics and non-believers, brace yourselves...this is a horror movie that justifies millions of people's fear of ghosts/spirits/demons! A very gripping plot which is uniquely integrated with the paranormal investigation conducted by the Warrens. The movie takes you through the events as they occurred in the lives of the Perrons from the perspective of the investigators.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson as the Warrens give an honest and sincere performance as the paranormal investigators or spooks. Vera who plays the clairvoyant, depicts the emotional involvement extremely well and also expresses fear and courage almost simultaneously in a unique way. Patrick gives the more restraint performance and shows how tough it would be to balance your personal interests against the interests of the family that entrusts its life on you.
Lili and Ron as the Perrons are fantastic and completely make the audience feel what turmoil the actual Perrons must have gone through.
The daughters are adorable and play their parts efficiently.

Joseph Bishara composes some unique background tracks and blends in the spookyness and the eerie feeling into them. Sometimes just deep bass and sometimes loud orchestra...Bishara sure knows how to make music work for the horror genre.

A few extremely thrilling moments give you the satisfaction of watching a horror movie, but its the character development worked into the script that makes this movie a distinguishing one. This is one of those movies whose climax, while being very exhilarating, still is able to make an emotional connection between the audience and the Perrons - a rare occurrence in a movie of this type. The trailer definitely should be avoided for those who want a couple of extra surprises that would make you jump in your seat. While the pace does seem to slow down intermittently, there is more going on in this movie than you expect.

I rate it 3.5 out of 5 for being able to balance the horror thrills, emotions and investigative drama so nicely (although a few more scares would have been better). It is a movie you shouldn't is one of the best horror movies to come out in recent times anyway!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Madras Cafe Kudos to Bollywood

Directed by Shoojit Sircar
Written by Somnath Dey, Shubendu Bhattacharya
Music & Background score by Shantanu Moitra
Lyrics by Ali Hayat and Others
John Abraham as Vikram Singh (R&AW agent)
Nargis Fakhri as Jaya (Journalist)
Rashi Khanna as Ruby (Vikram's Wife)
Siddharth Basu as Robin Dutt (RAW)

Execution par excellence! Kudos to Shoojit Sircar...from Yahaan to Vicky Donor to this...what a journey and what variety! A political thriller and that too a very taut one...this movie is engaging from the word go and little over two hours in duration. Watch it for the engaging execution, or watch it to see John as a RAW agent for the first time or watch it to get a very slick overview of a very important chapter in the history of India.

The story does not depend heavily upon characters but nevertheless, the lead characters play a very riveting part in the narration of this entire episode. The choice of actors chosen for the characters is also very interesting and I think greatly appropriate.
John as Vikram, proves that a spy/RAW agent need not be a super-hero but can be a common man with an exceptional job description! A different look to begin with and indeed a very different and performance, John takes on the responsibility of being Vikram with great ease.
Nargis as Jaya, plays a smart and focused war journalist. She looks pretty and super professional and shows no signs that she is the same actress from Rockstar.
Siddhart Basu as RD, plays his role very aptly. Usually such roles and actors playing them tend to start resembling or even mimicking hollywoodish CIA heads but RD is both written and enacted very elegantly and effectively.
Rashi Khanna as Ruby, plays almost a cameo but is still noticeable. She is cute, promising and perhaps has potential of an equally competent performance if given a meatier role in the future.

Shantanu Moitra...surprise surprise! While the songs themselves are very soothing what requires an exceptional mention is the background score. What a perfect score....the music constantly makes you realize the urgency in the tense situations as well as the emotions behind those thrilling moments! While the movie may or may not have scored full marks in any other departments, it sure does get a perfect score for its background score.

A brand new one! Here is a movie like none other, in bollywood. It is a brave and an amazing creation which should be experienced and encouraged. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, earlier this year and now Madras Cafe, both prove that there are some exceptional stories in India that need to be told and also that there are some great storytellers in our industry now who are capable of narrating them. Shoojit Sircar, the writers and the producers deserve a pat on the back for this brilliant movie experience that they have brought to the audience. Although the movie maybe a little shallow on the emotions, it does full justice to the yet unexplored genre of political thrillers and keeps you engaged from start to finish.

I rate it 4.5 out of 5 for offering a truly novel experience and super slick and mature execution. Ending it with Vikram narrating Rabindranath Tagore acts as the perfect garnishing to this awesome movie served in
Madras Cafe! 

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Movie Review: Pacific Rim

Directed by Guilermo del Toro
Music by Ramin Djawadi
Charlie Hunnam as Raleigh
Idris Alba as Stacker
Rinko Kikuchi as Mako

The perfect candidate for IMAX or any other Big Screen format and even better in 3D, this movie packs in some amazing special effects for the adult audience and yet is unable to deliver anything more than just that. At 132 minutes, the movie seems too stretched and gets too loud and even messes up your vision with the huge monsters and robots fighting surrounded with fire, lava, ocean and if that was not enough, perpetual rainfall!

The characters seem to be as well written as a movie focused solely on special effects and actions demands. With cliched scripts and character sketches, the protagonists in the movie seem to pull off a decent performance. Idris Alba delivers some powerful dialogues with confidence ("Today we cancel Apocalypse"); Charlie and Rinko give an effective performance at best.

The robots and monsters which form an important aspect of this movie have been designed very creatively and executed superbly. They definitely play an integral part in the script.

Ramin creates a background score that blends brilliantly into the genre of the movie and the balanced use of some heavy rock and electronic sounds makes the otherwise explosives intensive movie seem a little different. Good job!

If you are a fan of some amazing computer graphics and raw action loaded with thuds and bangs and booms, this movie is a must watch. For others who are looking for something more (which we are by now so used to expecting even in an action/thriller movie thanks to likes of Avatar, Marvel movies, Batman series, etc. etc.), you might be in for a bit of a disappointment. The movie start off at a rapid pace and then rapidly becomes sluggish as the characters are developed. There should always be some doses of humor and emotions which are perhaps missing in this movie. Maybe a little shortening of the movie and adding a little more story would have helped this movie significantly.

I rate it 2.5 out of 5....which I consider on the higher side and is owed mainly to genuine innovative designs and concepts (neural connection) which the movie employs. For me....the only Rim at which this movie lies is the one between almost being an awesome action movie and being an over-the-top mindless action movie. Go for it at your own discretion! 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Movie Review: Chennai Express

Directed by Rohit Shetty
Story by K. Subaash
Music and background score by Vishal-Shekhar
Lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya
Shah Rukh Khan as Rahul
Deepika Padukone as Meenamma
....and everyone else! 

The first summer blockbuster and if I am not really mistaken, the first of 2013 too, has arrived! Humor, Rohit Shetty'ish Action and Shah Rukh's there any other formula that could spell success? Just as the entertainment of this movie is typical to masala movies, so are the flaws and shortcomings - draggy towards the end, mostly cliched and predictable second half, etc. etc.

A simple and rather slim storyline does not require many characters, or rather many well-developed characters. Chennai Express essentially rides from the first frame to the last on SRK's presence followed by Deepika's.
Rohit Shetty as the super commercial director. Although all directors almost play an invisible character in their movies, Chennai Express in particular seems to pronounce this transparent presence of its director a little extra loudly and clearly! The execution screams out loud - Rohit Shetty - the punch lines, one liners and over the top action makes it very evident as to who is the man calling the shots here!
Deepika as the seriously accented Meenamma.  A very very rare occurrence in bollywood, but our leading lady here actually changes her accent big time and does a decent job at it too! She looks superb in the sarees and simple indian make-up. Plays her part as innocently and naturally as required by her character.
SRK, the King Khan as the extremely lovable Rahul. Its time to rehash and re-establish the fact - SRK is truly the King of entertainment and romance! A superbly played role, with perfect humor timing and never getting hammy. SRK blends in all the typical SRK moments into Rahul and yet does not seem over indulgent or over the top at any time! He proves yet again that no one can entertain the masses and folks of all ages all at once like him!

Vishal-Shekhar....already having proved plenty of times that they are indeed one of the most talented musicians of Bollywood, experiment sufficiently with the music of this movie and make it relevant as well as awesome at the same time! "One two three four", "titli" and "lungi dance" are great numbers and show what kind of range they have as composers (note: Lungi Dance is a promotional track only created by Yo Yo Honey Singh) ! The background score however is not anything to write back home about. It is appropriate at best!

Delivering loads of extremely funny moments and sufficient doses of the usual masala expected of both, Rohit Shetty and an Eid mega release...Chennai Express fulfills all your expectations, unless you go in with the wrong ones to begin with. No doubt, the movie suffers from an unnecessarily prolonged climax and could have easily done with 1 to 2 songs less in the second half....but the first half definitely charges you up sufficiently to keep you going through the entire movie. SRK's fantastic comedy timings, Deepika's earnest south Indian accented dialogues and Rohit Shetty's treatment make this movie worth your money.

I rate it 3.75 out of 5....this maybe a bit unconventional ratings but I think the over commercialization of the movie takes away a little of the awesomeness that this movie could have otherwise achieved. Having said sure not to miss this train...its one hell of a ride and gives you enough reasons to keep revisiting some scenes in your mind and having a laugh  long after you have exited the theater!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Movie Review: Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

Directed & Produced by Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra
Writer & Lyricist Prasoon Joshi
Farhan Akhtar as Milkha Singh
Master Jabtej as Young Milkha Singh
Pawan Malhotra as Coach Gurudev Singh
Sonam Kapoor as Biro
Divya Dutta as Isri Kaur

Hard work and dedication...kudos to Farhan Akhtar! India is such a big country...there must be many more such success stories...go bollywood! Go grab those stories and bring them on the big have finally learnt how to make great biopics! Bhaag Milkha is overindulgent...and bit too long at times, for its own good...nevertheless...a must watch!

Well...the movie as such belongs to only one man...but i will briefly cover a couple others who follow close behind the main man in terms of performance!
Pawan Malhotra as Coach Gurudev.... An actor who fills his character with emotions and expressions! You see his pride towards his disciple in his eyes, in his dialogue delivery and in his body language! What a performance!
Master Jabtej as chota Milkha. A talented kid who perfectly depicts the mischief and the anger that Milkhas initially happy and then traumatic childhood yields! You feel for the young Milkha thanks to this young natural actor.
Divya Dutta as Isri Kaur...Milkha's emotional and suppressed sister. Although maybe a little melodramatic at times, but nevertheless Divya Dutta conveys the emotions and the magnitude of her emotions beautifully!
The physique says it loud and clear..
Farhan means real business!
And finally...Farhan Akhtar! What can one say? What can you say! Oh boy...would it suffice to
say...Aamir Khan...beware....there is a perfectionist in town who is younger (although relatively!) and not half as good looking and yet may give you a good run for your money! Those strong shoulders not only help Milkha run fast and do the bhangra gracefully, but are also the ones on which this whole movie lies! Brilliant brilliant brilliant!

Shankar Ehsaan Loy and Prasoon Joshi....effective. A soundtrack that meets the requirements of the story and genre of movie. A special mention for the title track (both versions...arif lohar's and the siddharth maahdevan's rock version) which is energetic and perfect to inspire any Milkha to get up and run! Also Mera Yaar...beautifully composed and written, ditto for O Rangrezz.
As for background, SEL as usual churn out their best work for Farhan Akhtar.

A movie true to its genre. The opening sequence is mesmerizing...the training sequences are off the hook...hats off to Rakyesh Mehra. The movie scores 10 on 10 in the technical boxes. The camera work, the editing, the whole production design! As for execution, Rakyesh does an equally competent job...the only flaw being his and perhaps prasoon joshi's over indulgence in their own creation. The movie could have easily done with 25 minutes shorter runtime. The extra length slows down the pace (which is ironic for a movie titled bhaag milkha bhaag) and also tires you in parts. But the movie truly belongs to Farhan Akhtar's stellar performance and effort!

I rate the movie 4 out of 5. No man or actor could look more his role or more expressive while just running on a race track than Farhan...a salute to his effort. Fly Farhan Fly! One more feather in Rakyesh Om Prakash Mehra's hat...although...I must add...we still await for another Rang De Basanti from you Mr. Mehra!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Man of Steel: Movie Reviewed

Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by Chris Nolan (also co-writer of story)
Henry Caviil as Clarke Kent / Superman
Amy Adams as Louis Lane
Michael Shanon as General Zod
Diane Lane as Martha Kent
Kevin Costner as Joe Kent
Russel Crowe as Jor El
Music by Hans Zimmer


Brand new action, brand new story and great star cast....longer in duration than was necessary, but nevertheless, most of the 143 minutes you spend in the theater, you feel content...a bit overwhelmed with the action no doubt....but at a personal level, I enjoyed every bit of the innovative action scenes!

A great ensemble cast with many characters playing little parts around the main man....but contributing all the while.
Russel Crowe....the original father of Superman! Probably a rare opportunity in itself to see Russel Crowe in a super hero movie, let alone having the pleasure of his presence throughout the movie. Its great to see him and deliver those dialogues so believably.
Kevin Costner....the earthling father of Superman! A great character...a loving father and one worthy of being the father of a superhero. He plays his character with maturity and makes every piece of advice he gives to the little Kent so powerful and effective.
Diane Lane...mother of Superman! Likeable, motherly and just perfect in the role that she is expected to perform.
Amy Adams....Superman's love interest! Cute....pretty and pleasing to the eyes. Plays her role with conviction and amongst all the action and loud noises, she gives some resting time to your mind and eyes.
Michael Shanon....the potential nemesis of Superman! A worthy opponent and a classic villain. He irritates you, makes you angry but also convinces you that he is not wrong but just has a different interest. Effective performance.
Henry Caviil....Superman! A great choice.....the perfect match actually....Henry looks great and gives a 100% to the important role that he plays. He portrays the depression, the subtle joy, concern, excitement, anger....all to perfection. It is tough to believe that he is an English actor and unimaginable as to how much practice it must've taken to get rid of the accent.

Hans Zimmer....what can one say about his amazing compositions! The soundtrack is brilliant and blends in beautifully with the emotional and action sequences. I'm heading to the itunes store and buying this album for sure!

A truly colossal experience. Superman could not have been revived in any other way! Hats off to Zack Snyder and Chris Nolan. The movie comes along with some of the biggest expectations for this year....a responsibility which is very difficult to fulfill. It definitely manages to meet those huge huge expectations, although there is no doubt, that the movie's brilliant build up....amazing storyline...and great performances are tarnished by extra long action sequences. Towards the end...this movie which starts off as a very humane and sensitive take on superman....ends up being a blatant exhibition of innovative action sequences and amazing special effects. Its super enjoyable....super mature compared to any previous superman movie....and super engaging until u start getting bored of the destruction.

I rate it 4 out of may be a tad bit generous...but the overall movie experience and also the action sequences, before starting to bore you...actually make you appreciate how novel they are...! I can see this high through the sequels! 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani - Movie Reviewed

Directed by Ayaan Mukherjee
Ranbir Kapoor as Bunny
Deepikda Padukone as Naina
Kalki Koechli as Aditi
Aditya Roy as Avi
Music & Background Score by Pritam
Lyrics by Amitabh Bhattacharya

"Mai udnaa chaahta hoon....
Mai daudna chaahta hoon...
Girna bhi chaahta hoon...
Bass....Rukna nahi chaahta"

That's pretty much the best summary of the movie - The theme that underlies the entire plot and drives the movie from start to finish. As was the case with Ayaan Mukherjee's last movie, this movie too does not boast or even attempt at telling a brand new or a unique story. The premise is simple, but its really the philosophical focus that makes the movie worth your time.

Many non-human aspects play important characters in this movie - Manali (truly Manali or Gulmarg....doesnt matter), Udaipur, Friendship, Attitude. Having said that, lets move on to the human characters.
Farrukh Sheikh as Bunny's Father - A short role, maybe just a little more than ten dialogues, nevertheless a great role played by this veteran. Eventhough this is what fathers do...understand and encourage, yet, in this case, you will see why it is such a tough role to play.
Aditya Roy as Avi...a friend who is sooo in luv with his friendship and yet is overburdened by his bit of bad "luck" in life. A great performance, although the second half seems to have tired him and his facial expressions and body language tend to get repetitive. 
Kalki as Aditi...a brilliant mistake....ONCE AGAIN....a brilliant performance by this multi-talented actress! Even the transformation of character from pre-interval to how it becomes post-interval is superbly portrayed by her. You empathize with her, you luv her and then you feel proud of her maturity. 
Deepika as Naina....the nerd and the over-protected girl. Typical transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly and typical Deepika style! Her expressions of embarassment, of being awe-struck, of being fascinated yet perhaps a little taken aback, all beautifully depicted. The only let down for me was that I get the feeling that Deepika is not experimenting, from Love Aaj Kal to YJHD...her choice of characters needs bit more variety for a more substantial assessment of her talent. 
Ranbir as words. As stated in one of my previous reviews and perhaps by every film critic out there....he is truly his only competition! He makes you believe in what he says, makes you want to have the same dreams that he has and makes you feel exactly those emotions that Bunny feels! Supreme talent...Supreme!

Music: is this guy upto! A brilliant soundtrack invigorated with the right kind of energy and reflecting the mood of the situation perfectly! Be it Balam Pichkari or Badtameez Dil or Kabira....each bringing out the relevant mood and yet great compositions even if heard in isolation of the movie's storyline. Amitabh Bhatacharya...another it poetry for Ilahi and Kabira or craziness such as "Pal mein phudina dekha, naak ka nagina dekha"....he proves he can write it all!
Pritam's background score is also perfect...the splashes of "oooh..." and "aaaah..." from Ilahi and the saxophone from Badtameez dil....blended into the otherwise energetic background score is wonderful! Again...all about bringing out the right kind of energy and he does a fab job at doing that. 

This movie may belong to Ranbir or to Deepika or to any of the other great performances, but actually this movie truly belongs to Ayaan Mujherjee! Taking a simple story, blending it with a great script, fantastic dialogues and deft execution, Ayaan manages to engage his audience completely in this...otherwise story. The underlying theme of following your dreams and living life to the fullest is vividly brought out....although maybe a little too emphatic at times. With perhaps a better edited second half, this movie would have found no room for criticism. 
"Beet ta to waqt hai...
Par kharch to hum hote hain...!

With that thought...I would like to make a special mention about the ending...I think the climax of this movie is one of the best that I have seen in a long time! I bet you will love it too!

I rate it 3.5 out of 5...This movie may not be a classic....may not be a real example of meaningful cinema...but this movie sure as hell teaches you one thing... "You can't be old and wise, if you were never young and crazy"! Go for it!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Ek Thi Daayan - Movie Reviewed

Directed by Kannan Iyer
Emraan Hashmi as Bobo, the Baffler
Konkona Sen as Diana
Huma Qureshi as Tamara
Kalki Koechlin as Lisa Dutt
Music by Vishal Bhardwaj
Lyrics by Gulzar
Background Score by Clinton Cerejo

A movie which takes Bollywood or rather tries to take Bollywood into a yet unexplored territory. Not a pure horror movie, not completely a thriller and not totally fantasy but a bit of all. A movie which I find rather hard to decide upon, whether it is good or bad. The director and the cast put in a 100% no doubt and that is one thing for sure that you take back as you exit the theater.

The two characters whose names I am not aware about are the two kids who play the role of the younger Emraan Hashmi and his sister are brilliant and extremely cute. A major portion of the first half is carried off by these two characters. Pawan Malhotra plays a superb widower who is both tired of staying alone and of taking care of his kids. 
As for the remaining cast, I will try to express my opinion on them without divulging any key information.
Emraan Hashmi plays the talented Bobo, the magician and carries out his role with conviction and talent, both of which we have all gotten used to expecting from him. He expresses fear, confusion, anger and concern in the most believable manner that could have been in such a movie. 
Konkona Sen plays Diana, a name remarkably close to the word used in the title of the movie and looks true to the character that she plays. Her eyes are the key performers in this movie! Huma Quereshi plays Tamara, Emraan's love interest and comes across as an extremely promising actress. Even though she does not get a very meaty role, she lives up to the expectations of her character. Kalki plays Lisa Dutt from Canada and once again proves to be a reliable actress. 

Songs do not play a major role at all in the movie and its good to see that Kanna Iyer does not make the characteres lipsync to the songs unrealistically. Having said that, the songs are just average and apart from Yaaram nothing stands out.Gulzar writes equally average lyrics for this one.
The background score however, is a whole different story. As is the case with all horror movies, without the right background music, half the fun would be lost. Clinton Cerejo composes brilliant background tracks which have a very international feel to them. 

If there is one adjective that I repeatedly associate with this movie in my mind, it is "Interesting". As you watch the movie, as a hindi cinema person, you may feel you are being taken into a genre which has never been seen before. The effort is definitely genuine but when you come out of the movie, you may be confused as I was - "Was this a good movie or a bad movie? I did get a few real jhatkaas but were they enough? But then, was giving meaningless scares and thrills really the point of this movie? I think not". Kannan Iyer definitely has potential of being a good storyteller.

I rate it 2.5 out of 5. It might have been a 3.5 too, but I would blame the script for not being able to get that extra point. The movie could've been a completely new experience and a thrilling one too...but in the end...this Daayan fails to leave a haunting impression in your minds - an objective that should have been kept above everything else!