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!