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Superlative Performances elevate this Simple Story to Something Sublime
Verdict: an absolute "Must See" for the sheer impact of Hrithik Roshan's groundbreaking performance and an emotionally compelling story, very well told.
The story IS very simple.
A man, Rohan Bhatnagar (Hrithik Roshan) and woman, Supriya Sharma (Yami Gautam) meet, fall in love, and marry. Each has been blind since birth. Despite this, each has been living and working independently she as the pianist for a dance studio, he making good money as a professional dubbing artist for film and television. (Some of the most light-hearted moments in the movie are watching Mr Roshan physically manipulate his face, nose, and throat to produce the range of voices needed.) But Supriya gives up her job after marriage and stays home during the day while Rohan is away at the dubbing studio. Thus she is alone and without aid when a tragedy is perpetrated upon her by the local 'bad apple', Amit, and his lifelong party pal, Wasim. Amit, we discover, is the spoiled younger brother of a powerful politician who shamelessly "owns" the police and pays them to cover up Amit's misdeeds. Rohan & Supriya's struggle to obtain justice despite corrupt cops and the even more corrupt politician thus forms the crux of what happens.
What makes "Kaabil" (English: "capable") so emotionally satisfying is how the characters and their journey are presented in such a natural way despite being 'differently abled' that the audience completely identify with each of the two AND their subsequent choices/actions from the very outset of the film: they feel like people we might know and care about in our own daily lives, so we invest our emotions in their fate.
Hrithik Roshan ...
Mr Roshan has always been unique, even from his début film itself, in his unsurpassed ability to completely 'invest' in each character he portrays and make each performance distinct: each walks, talks, looks, and even moves differently from every other. Thus, the unprecedented range of characters he has successfully embodied on screen. This tremendous range has enabled Mr Roshan to shine where other actors fail in portraying roles where the character is 'differently abled': first in "Koi ... Mil Gaya" (2003) as a brain-damaged adult with the mind and innocence of a child, then later as a quadriplegic former magician, in "Guzaarish" (2010). But with "Kaabil", Mr Roshan has outdone even himself.
As Rohan Bhatnagar in "Kaabil", Hrithik Roshan is not here playing any kind of superhero nor saving the world, but just playing a simple ordinary guy (well, as 'ordinary' as that impeccably perfect bone structure will allow, which actually becomes a quip in "Kaabil"; the neighbourhood bad guy harasses Rohan with the nickname "Handsome" to play on the character having never seen even his own face) who just happens to be blind. And there are no acting 'cheats' here. No dark glasses to hide his eyes. No contact lenses to obscure his normal vision. Mr Roshan plays the blind Rohan completely eyes-wide-open unfocused gaze, yes, but absolutely natural. The sheer subtlety and power of this portrayal! Never, at any point, do you not believe that Rohan Bhatnagar is completely blind. Mr Roshan establishes the "capabilities" of the character so well from the git-go that by the time we get to the action sequences even those, too, seem completely reasonable and accepted.
I understand, now, why critics and audiences have been lauding Mr Roshan's "Kaabil" performance as (yet another!) career best. I would not argue with those who have even hailed this as one of THE very finest acting performances in cinema, period.
His female counterpart, petite beauty Yami Gautam as Supriya, meshes seamlessly. She will touch your heart! Do not be surprised if her "Kaabil" performance propels this previously underrated actress straight to the "A"-List of Hindi film actresses.
Ronit Roy and his real-life brother Rohit Roy make the most of this opportunity to appear together on-screen for the first time, as the power-justifies-anything politician Madhavrao Shellar and his care-for-nothing younger brother Amit.
Narendra Jha (who, ironically, had just finished working with Mr Roshan in the epic "Mohenjo Daro" (2016) as the madman Jakhiro, a role which could not have been more different from the quiet, reserved character here) was especially effective in the grey character at the core of "Kaabil", a police Inspector teetering on the brink of the bad side.
Kudos also to Suresh Menon, in a rare non- comic relief role very well played.
A special shout-out to the technical departments which made "Kaabil" possible: Resul Pookutty, whose brilliant sound design enabled our understanding of Rohan's world; ace cinematographers Sudeep Chatterjee & Ayananka Bose, who showed us that world using low-light and other challenging conditions; Ahmed Khan, whose innovative choreography for 'Mon Amour' made us truly believe it was danced by sightless people, and should be up for National Award.
Composer Rajesh Roshan's album is his best since a while. I particularly like the title song 'Kaabil Hoon' that voices Rohan's commitment to Supriya and the poignant 'Kuch Din' that allows him to recall their happiest moments. But even the remix of 'Haseeno Ka Deewana' (originally 'Saara Zamaana' from "Yaarana" (1981)) worked well for "Kaabil", presenting the twisted worldview of the criminally self-centred Amit.
Last but definitely not least: director Sanjay Gupta, whose "Kaabil" far exceeds in quality any of his previous works.
Final note: the general attributes of a blind character doing action in a film, by compensating with hearing and smell, may hearken all the way back to Japan's "Tale of Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman" (1962) and the wealth of later television and film projects which flowed therefrom. But Hrithik Roshan's portrayal of blind Rohan Bhatnagar in India's "Kaabil" is completely unique not just in its visceral power but the emotional engagement he brings for the audience.
Mary Kom (2014)
Priyanka Chopra's courageous knock-'em-dead performance shines, despite weak script
I cannot praise highly enough, the power and execution of Priyanka Chopra's performance in this movie.
As the title character, Ms Chopra swept me away with the sheer passion, dedication, and grit she brought to this portrayal: a real woman boxer who won five world championships and returned after retirement birthing twins to claim a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Priyanka makes you forget she's an actress in "Mary Kom" you will believe she IS the athlete.
Taking on this challenging role was courageous, in a male-hero dominated industry where, even today, it's the men who are expected to 'carry' all big commercial cinema. Where even the top heroines naturally including Priyanka Chopra herself, who co-stars in many of the biggest of the biggies, such as both the hugely successful "Krrish" and "Don" franchises rarely get opportunity to do much more than 'look pretty and dance a bit'. This is, happily, evolving somewhat with the relative commercial success of heroine-centric films such as Kangana Ranaut's "Queen" (2014), Vidya Balan's "Kahaani" (2012), Priyanka's own "Fashion" (2008), and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan's "Provoked" (2007). Yet it is a sad fact that, even today, the much vaunted '200 Crores Club' and even the '100 Crores Club' blockbusters are male star vehicles, every last one.
Against this industry backdrop, I salute Priyanka Chopra even more for not just taking on, but so boldly succeeding with, such an inherently 'unglamourous' role.
All credit to Ms Chopra aside, however ... the "Mary Kom" movie as a whole is frustrating.
It's as though, having committed themselves to making a movie about the real-life boxer Mary Kom, the filmmakers then found themselves not having a clue what to say about the woman.
The coach in the film (Sunil Thapa, who manages a solid performance despite the poor writing) repeatedly tells his boxer and the audience to "Focus! Focus! Focus!" Yet "focus" is exactly what this script (story & screenplay credited to Saiwyn Qadras) completely fails to do. The lackluster music (Shashi Suman) and uncertain direction (débutant director Omung Kumar) do not help.
There were so many potential story lines here which could have been developed into a uniting theme: the physical isolation and political unrest unsettling Mary's home state, Manipur; a young woman's struggle against family and community expectations to walk a non-traditional path; any woman's challenge to balance career and family; just to name a few. And, in fact, several of these themes are suggested ... only to be inexplicably dropped or left hanging. Forget the triumph of last year's groundbreaking ad brilliantly executed biopic "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag", which transcended the personal story of its athlete to present a broader message of societal healing in the aftermath of communal tragedy. "Mary Kom" not only fails to convey any broader meaning, this movie fails to ever settle on any one particular thing to be learned from this one woman's life. Here, what happens just, well, happens. Limply. The filmmakers' lack of direction and focus make everything that happens in this woman's life seem just too ... well, easy. There is no sustained conflict, no driving or sustained challenge for the character to overcome. The would-be climax of the film comes across as cheap melodrama which left the audience emotionally unengaged. The film's end (at an odd place, well before what I would have considered the natural highlight of the woman's career) came through 'flat' and unsatisfying.
Weirdly, I came out of the "Mary Kom" movie less inspired by Mary Kom's life ... than by "A"-list actress Priyanka Chopra's real-life courage and hard work in enacting this role.
Seven stars, STRICTLY on the basis of Priyanka Chopra's powerful knock-'em-dead performance.
Krrish 3 (2013)
A Landmark Film in World Cinema ... breaks down boundaries and raises the bar for superhero films everywhere, with emotional 'connect' Hollywood can only envy
Forget anything you may have heard or comparisons you might have imagined about "Krrish 3" it's just a GREAT MOVIE. Period.
By any standard.
For sheer emotional wallop, "Krrish 3" has no peer among 'superhero' movies anywhere.
Complex and multi-layered story, standout performances, exciting action, memorable characters, and breakthrough visual effects make "Krrish 3" a landmark film in world cinema. But it's the power of its emotional connect with the audience fuelled as it is by real human relationship, that each of us can identify with personally in our own way that sets "Krrish 3" above even mega-blockbuster Hollywood movies with 12 times the budget but no soul.
What sets "Krrish 3" apart?
Story. Plot. Character. The three essential elements of any good storytelling. "Krrish 3" not only uses Story, Plot, and Character to tell an inspiring and exciting superhero story, but does so from a uniquely Indian perspective all the more powerful because the relationships portrayed are actually universal to all human life.
Above all, "Krrish 3" is an unparallelled celebration of ... Humanity. In all our strength. In all our weakness.
Master director-producer Rakesh Roshan once again proves his vision to 'push the boundaries' for what Hindi cinema can and does achieve.
Synopsis for anyone catching up: Ten years ago "Koi ... Mil Gaya" (2003) introduced India's first successful science fiction movie by giving us Rohit Mehra, a braindamaged child-adult who befriends a space alien (whom he calls 'Jaadu', meaning 'magic') accidentally stranded on Earth that thanks Rohit for his help by healing, even enhancing, his damaged brain. Seven years ago "Krrish" (2006) gave us Krishna Mehra, Rohit's son, who was born with supra-normal abilities because of his father's 'enhancement' by Jaadu, and eventually takes on the superhero identity Krrish. With the help of a journalist (Priya, whom Krishna loves) Krishna rescues his father, the now-genius Rohit, from long-term imprisonment by an evil scientist. Thus at the outset of "Krrish 3" (2013), Krishna and Priya are newlyweds. Rohit explores how to be a father to a grown son. And 'Krrish' is the public's hero who is an inspiration to all. But trouble lurks just around the corner: a twisted genius known as 'Kaal' has unleashed an army of half-human, half-animal mutants to exploit and then bring down human civilisation.
What Happens Next ... you simply must experience!
Hrithik Roshan ... playing the triple-role which spans the physicality (impressive!) of superhero Krrish combined with the confused 'everydayness' of alter ego Krishna (who can't keep a regular job!) and yet again the residually 'childlike' genius scientist, the aging Rohit. COULD any other actor have carried this off? Period? In a word, NO.
As Subhash K Jha famously said of Hrithik's début, "Kaho Naa ... Pyaar Hai" (2000): "Would Paris be the same without the Eiffel Tower?"
Similarly, the entire Krrish franchise whether Rohit in "Koi ... Mil Gaya", Krishna in "Krrish", or full-on superhero Krrish in "Krrish 3" would not, could not, exist without the unique talents and dramatic range of one actor. Hrithik Roshan.
The other primary cast are also great in "Krrish 3". Vivek Oberoi, for instance, makes the most of this opportunity to be very good (which is to say, very bad, as the ultra-evil supervillain 'Kaal') in this very good movie.
Yet top raves for the women in "Krrish 3".
All too often a female actor is given little chance to do more than 'look pretty and dance a little'. This is why it is SO refreshing that both Priyanka Chopra ('Priya') and Kangana Ranaut (the mutant 'Kaya') play such memorably three-dimensional characters in "Krrish 3".
Ms Ranaut is spectacular in this movie! She's gorgeous. She's deadly. She's (literally) a cold-blooded killer, being half-chameleon. Yet her character's discovery of her own latent human side will touch your heart.
Not to be outdone, Ms Chopra's role, too, has unexpected shades to her performance. And watch carefully for one scene where even Mr Roshan is ... not quite what he seems! Exactly the sort of plot twists that keep an audience on the edge of their seat to the final frame.
The technical departments are all top-notch. Hong Kong's legendary action director Tony Ching Siu-Tung returns from "Krrish" to elicit even more breathtaking fight sequences in "Krrish 3", and pushed all actors to their physical limits and beyond. The art design by Sabu Cyril shows you a birds-eye perspective of Mumbai (especially dramatic at night) which only a bird or a superhero would normally see. The sound design by Baylon Fonseca was also extraordinary.
Rajesh Roshan's music for "Krrish 3" is not standard Bollywood movie fare, because this music is very specific to this film and no other. Where else, for instance, are you likely to have occasion for a mutant's fantasy about discovering love? Which is why, when you actually see this film, all three of the song sequences work beautifully to underscore the emotional content of the plot.
Special credit to the"Krrish 3" team for bravely keeping all the computer visual effects work (VFX) 100% 'made in India' for the first time ... and on such a showcase project, so brilliantly realised throughout. And at reportedly ONE TWELFTH the cost of similar Hollywood VFX-intensive superhero films, with such results, "Krrish 3" alone could open Indian VFX companies to the international film market.
In sum: a landmark milestone in Hindi cinema. As Hrithik Roshan said recently in a UK interview, "The basic content of a Hindi movie is really being challenged here." The standard-of-excellence has been raised to global level with "Krrish 3", while remaining true to Indian culture and values.
Director Rakesh Roshan deserves HUGE credit for: (1) the Vision; (2) the Courage to pursue that vision; and (3) the Skill to transform that vision into groundbreaking cinema.
Akshay Kumar's athleticism saves the day. Or at least this movie.
Most of the attempted slapstick comedy notes in "Boss" fall flat. Yet the underlying dramatic storyline proves surprisingly satisfying, and lead actor Akshay Kumar's sheer joyous athleticism keep his latest film worth a watch.
My personal highlight of the film?
A roughly five-minute chase sequence where our unarmed title character leads a whole army of pursuing thugs on a merry chase up, over, and through a claustrophobic old-town: the wit and panache with which Mr Kumar 'free runs' and bounds with a smile and a laugh are simply a delight to witness.
Several particularly well-staged fight sequences remind us that, even at 46, Akshay Kumar's real martial arts prowess has no equal in Bollywood.
Other plus points:
Danny Denzongpa (who has always been one of India's most under-rated actors, in my opinion) as 'Big Boss', the title character's adoptive father such a pleasure to see him in a more positive role, where he shines!
the storyline between the title character and his real and adoptive fathers
excellent fight choreography, throughout
song "Hum Na Tode" immediately after the interval, Mr Kumar's best dance and even a brief cameo by Prabhu Deva easily the best song of the film
poor writing especially, poor character development of the supporting characters
one-dimensional villain (though ably played by Ronit Roy)
Sonakshi Sinha's cameo appearance in two songs just plain fat, embarrassingly so for a film heroine (and the costume designer for "Party All Night" should be shot at dawn!)
the (literally) sniffling idiot
background score inexplicably loud and actively intrusive at poorly picked moments, such as the climactic duel between Mr Kumar and Mr Roy
On the whole, not by any means a 'great' movie. But enjoy for Mr Kumar's performance in top form.
Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013)
Do not walk ... RUN to "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag"!
An extraordinary film.
In one sense a biopic of a real historical person Milkha Singh, 'The Flying Sikh', the orphaned emigré (from the terrible Partition riots that followed the creation of independent Pakistan and India in 1947) who rose to become India's first world-record setting athlete this movie gives its audience so MUCH more, in so many ways.
On an individual level, the Hindi film "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" (2013) takes over from the Stallone classic "Rocky" (1976) as a great sport-based 'triumph of the human spirit' story. Yet at a global level this film also succeeds as one of the best movies yet made about the Partition, which inspires much-needed emotional healing for both nations. Many countries, actually, could benefit from this film's message.
(The title 'Run Milkha Run', in English were Milkha's father's final words.)
Farhan Akhtar phenomenal!
Mr Akhtar's mindblowing performance here as the title character will make you forget, for a time, that he is also one of India's best directors. (And a producer. And writer. And lyricist. And singer. None of which hats he wears here.) "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" proves that Farhan Akhtar, at 39, has matured into one of the world's finest living ACTORS.
He has brought the same honesty, subtlety, and power to this role, as an actor, which audiences have come to expect as a trademark of the films he directs or produces. Mr Akhtar engages you completely, from the opening frame to the last. You will laugh. You will cry. You will think. You will feel inspired to fly.
"Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" soars on the wings of Farhan Akhtar's performance.
The sheer physicality deserves special appreciation. It is no easy thing, for any mere actor to physically embody a career athlete. Mr Akhtar reportedly conditioned and trained for 18 months, to transform his body and his whole manner of movement. The result is on the screen: you will believe you are watching a world champion runner.
It's an extra plus that Mr Akhtar, the actor, does so strongly resemble the real Milkha Singh in build, body type, and the bones of the face as the historic photographs shown over the end credits clearly reveal.
The supporting cast are uniformly excellent, but I single out these four for special notice.
Veteran character actor Pavan Malhotra gives a career-breakthrough performance as Gurudev Singh, the army coach who first introduced young Milkha Singh to competitive running. He becomes the audience point-of-access to Milkha's whole backstory.
UK-based Pakistani-born actor Art Malik receives and earns third star billing, despite limited minutes. As Milkha Singh's father, his character is long dead and only appears in the 1947 flashback sequences. But Mr Malik so deftly projects an intriguing multi-dimensional character that his image, his presence, linger in the mind long after he has faded from the screen.
Divya Dutta as Ishri Kaur, Milkha's sole surviving sister. Brilliant! Emotional touchpoint for the whole audience, on both the individual and societal levels.
Last but certainly not least: newcomer Japtej Singh, who plays Milkha as a child. Merges perfectly with Mr Akhtar as the adult Milkha; you believe one would grow into the other. Most natural and 'genuine' performance by any child actor that I had seen in years. (May this be the beginning of a long and great career for young Mr Singh!)
Chief among technical departments, the strong story structure of "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" is a huge plus. The filmmakers chose an unusual starting point to begin telling their story: what might be thought the greatest failure of Milkha Singh's career. (Breaking his own world record, but only finishing 4th out of the medals in the 400 meter run at the 1960 Olympic Games in Rome.) But through deft intercutting between the then-present and selected flashbacks to Milkha's backstory, the film builds to an unexpectedly powerful climax that emotionally satisfies while inspiring on both personal and global levels.
Special credit: without diluting the emotional horror of Milkha's childhood experiences during the Partition, visual horror is kept to a minimum. A very difficult balance to keep, but successfully achieved here. (Note to Parents: film does contain one disturbing image of an athletics injury.)
The taut script by Prasoon Joshi and crisp editing by P. S. Bharathi elevate "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" by an order of magnitude above director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's earlier movies (such as "Rang De Basanti" (2006) which, though fresh and original, was comparatively unfocused and sprawling in its storytelling technique). "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag", by comparison, is so tightly written and well paced that I never even noticed the three-hour length, the film runs so fast and so smoothly.
The music by Shankar Ehsaan Loy is so good, so inspiring, that I rushed straight out to buy the soundtrack music CD immediately after leaving the movie!
Pretty easily, "Bhaag Milkha Bhaag" is THE BEST film I've seen from anywhere in the world thus far in 2013. (This statement includes the Oscar holdovers from year 2012.) Will prove to be a landmark film in world cinema.
ABCD (Any Body Can Dance) (2013)
'Liberation' for India's film dancers and choreographers!
For a nation whose film industries have traditionally thrived on lush use of dance in its cinema, it is honestly shocking how so few of India's movies focus directly ON dance. All too often, a choreographer's duty is to distract the audience from the fact that a movie's lead actor or actress cannot actually dance. Even when a lead actor can dance well, backup dancers are usually there just to provide colour and fill out the screen. The dancers are always there, but we do not 'see' them.
Thus "ABCD Any Body Can Dance" arrives like a breath of fresh air!
Here dance and dancers take centre stage not just as magic elements in and of themselves, but as a celebration of the power of art and dance to draw people together and transform lives.
Vishnu (Prabhu Deva), the longtime choreographer of India's most successful professional dance group, gets cashiered by his ambitious and domineering partner Jehangir (Kay Kay Menon). Vishnu's career seems over. He feels like giving up. But on his way out of town, he spends a few last days with an old friend, Gopi (Ganesh Acharya), a retired dancer who ekes out a small living teaching dance in a not-very-fancy neighbourhood. Through Gopi, Vishnu becomes impressed with the sheer raw talent he observes among an assortment of apparently dead-end street kids whose lives are limited by their inability to get along with each other, their parents, or anyone else. He volunteers to teach these kids dance for free, determined to change their lives through imparting Discipline, Attitude, New(ness), Confidence, and Expression. In the process, Vishnu manages to rebuild not just his own life and those of his students, but even his old friend and later nemesis Jehangir.
Some of India's greatest living dance choreographers came together to make this film happen.
Prabhu Deva himself, of course, is not only a celebrated choreographer (for instance, the National Award winning 'Main Aisa Kyon Hoon' straightjacket dance from "Lakshya" (2004)) and commercially successful director (such as "Wanted" (2009) and "Rowdy Rathore" (2012)) but also probably India's best pure dancer.
(My biggest gripe? Tamil native Prabhu Deva's voice is badly dubbed, in a heavy baritone that suits neither this character nor his own personality.)
"ABCD " is directed by famous choreographer Remo D'Souza, who also wrote the story.
Ganesh Acharya is so sincere and charming as Gopi in this, his acting debut, that he almost steals the movie. (The elephantine but surprisingly-light-on-his-feet Mr Acharya, despite his bulk, is best known for choreographing sexy item numbers such as 'Sheila' in "Tees Maar Khan" (2010) or 'Chikni Chameli' in the 2012 "Agneepath".)
India's all-time most honoured choreographer the legendary Saroj Khan herself dances a cameo over the end credits with Mssrs Remo, Acharya, and Prabhu Deva. Terrence Lewis and Shiamak Davar also contributed to "ABCD
" and are thanked in the opening credits.
Main Krishna Hoon (2013)
Charming movie for children which even adults will enjoy
Here is a fun story targeted to and completely appropriate for a child audience, yet intelligently written and engaging enough for adults, too.
"Main Krishna Hoon" is a heartwarming tale which ties the rich tradition of ancient Indian culture surrounding the god Krishna with the very real-world challenges of a very real little boy also named Krishna.
One dark and rainy night, the kindly proprietors of a small orphanage Kantaben (Juhi Chawla) and Nattubhai (Paresh Ganatra) rescue an abandoned baby boy from the floodwaters. They name him Krishna, because the way they found him parallels the legend of how the god Lord Krishna came to live with his adoptive parents as a baby. Orphan Krishna (Namit Shah) lives happily in the orphanage with Kanta and Nattu and the other foundling children. But over the years, as one by one his other friends are adopted out to families but he remains, young Krishna comes to believe that he is unadoptable, unwanted, and will never find a family. In despair, all alone one night he goes to a temple and prays to Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna (animated) then comes to Earth in his mischievous childhood 'butter thief' avatar and befriends the young orphan Krishna. Many adventures then ensue, as Krishna-from-Heaven helps Krishna-from-Earth discover his family.
The 'makhan chor' Lord Krishna is charmingly designed and animated. He may be a god, but he never lets you forget that he is also himself a mischievous little boy, too. Animated Krishna's dual-level interactions with his new friend, orphan Krishna (well-played by debutant child actor Namit Shah), are not only engaging and believable but genuinely fun. The business with the kheer (rice pudding), for instance. Or what becomes the obsession of both Krishnas with their namesake Krishna character who becomes a superhero, as played by actor Hrithik Roshan in the "Krrish" movies.
Juhi Chawla's performance here is outstanding, as the kindly headmistress of the orphanage. Even at her most perky and deliberately positive, you feel Kantaben's genuine love and caring for her young charges. Paresh Ganatra as her male counterpart is played more for comedy. But as the story progresses, the audience see and feel that he, too, shares her deep-seated concern for the orphans' longterm future.
Adults will particularly enjoy how ingeniously two real-world Hindi film superstars first Katrina Kaif, later Hrithik Roshan are cleverly worked into the story in 5-minute appearances as their actual selves.
(First-time producers Nandan K. Mahto & Promila Hunter are the longtime spot boy and hairdresser, respectively, of Mr Roshan and Ms Kaif, which is why the two superstars both readily agreed to support and be a part of their old friends' debut movie. In industry terms such high-profile commitment would have been key to securing both funding and distribution for the project.)
But throughout "Main Krishna Hoon", experienced children's director Rajiv S. Ruia (the "My Friend Ganesha" movie series) keeps the focus on children and completely child-friendly for all ages.
For instance, when actual villains are introduced into the story (in reference to the legendary battle of Krishna with the tyrant Kans) director Ruia presents the historic Krishna-Kans battle solely as animation, which lessens the potential fear factor to a child audience. The live action equivalent 'Kans' gangleader Angar Singh (Raj Premi), his lieutenant Paddu Singh (Rajan Verma), and their goons are kept light and played for comedy. Even the gang's crimes are deliberately made crimes with which child audiences can instantly identify.
This is the sort of refreshingly straightforward movie where, if 'The Hero' doesn't exactly ride into town on a white horse, he at least rides in on its 21st century equivalent!
The music by AmjadNadeem is generally good.
Juhi Chawla herself beautifully sings 'Om Namo Namah' over the opening credits, as we watch the infant orphan Krishna grow into the boy (Namit Shah) we will follow for the rest of the story.
The title track, 'Main Krishna Hoon', is catchy and stays with you.
A particular highlight is 'Govinda Aala Re'. The song is choreographed by ace dance director Ganesh Acharya against a traditional dahi handi human pyramid festival celebrating the birthday of young Lord Krishna. Aspiring stars Rajneesh Duggal and Misti Mukherjee appear briefly as the featured male and female dancers for this song.
Hindi cinema badly needs more good movies for children, which their parents can also enjoy. "Main Krishna Hoon" delivers!
Poola Rangadu (2012)
Deliciously funny comedy ... and a rare opportunity to watch an actor redefine his career before your very eyes
The storyline of the 2012 Telugu hit comedy film "Poola Rangadu" ('Colourful Ranga') is deceptively simple: an educated and ingenious young man from the city seeks to recoup his struggling family's fortunes through a rural real estate deal that proves to have potentially deadly consequences.
The fun is in the details.
Ranga (Sunil) and his business partner Bosu (Satyam Rajesh) acquire 30 acres in a rural farming district that is scheduled for industrial development. But the deal really is too-good-to-be-true. Upon arrival at the site, Ranga discovers that his 30 acres are wedged between the lands of two rich landlords who hate each other so much that each will kill to keep the other from any advantage including this 30 acres. Through his childhood friend Vasu (Ali) whom he takes into his confidence, Ranga infiltrates the gang of Konda Reddy (Dev Gill). But this strategy proves to be a dead end, he hopes not literally. At this point Ranga's only hope is to befriend the daughter of the equally vicious Lala Goud (Pradeep Singh Rawat) Anitha (Isha Chawla), a medical student who is no dummy and beguile her into intervening with her father on his behalf. Ranga will need all his wits and daring to succeed. The tangled tale of how Ranga negotiates these competing perils makes for a very funny ride indeed!
Some favourite funny highlights: Konda Reddy's 'dragonfly hunt' Lala Goud's 'music appreciation' Ranga's 'blasting with English' speech, that becomes more and more outrageous once he realises that no one else can understand a word of what he's saying Ranga's subsequent nonsense 'blasting with Hindi' how clever Anitha trips Ranga up with all this
"Poola Rangadu" was NOT a big budget project. No exotic locations. No expensive visual effects. But it succeeded very well (theatrical run over 100 days) and did very special things with what resources it had.
I particularly enjoyed the relish both Dev Gill and Pradeep Singh Rawat, respectively, brought to the two bloodthirsty landlords. Both actors famous for playing hard-core villains seemed to thrive on this opportunity to play characters so refreshingly three-dimensional and multi-faceted.
The music by Anoop Rubens and dances by Prem Rakshith went a long way to ground the story. The songs are progressive and underpin much of the story, all by themselves. The title song 'Poola Rangadu' (jaw-droppingly danced by Sunil) introduces Ranga through his dream of becoming cool, 'Colourful Ranga' who succeeds in life through taking risks. 'Nuvve Nuvvele' captures Ranga's futile attempts to win over Anitha. 'Okkade Okkade' is the turning point of the whole film. 'Nuvvu Naku Kavali' presents Ranga's first fantasies of love, and the jubilant 'Chocolate Kannula' Ranga's (premature) exhilaration at success. The background score especially for the climax scene was also outstanding.
But what will everyone MOST remember about "Poola Rangadu"?
Good god, who would have thought?
If anyone who had already appeared in some 160 movies over 12 years could be said to have a 'debut vehicle', "Poola Rangadu" is Sunil's debut. It is that much a showcase of range and talent.
Typecasting in India, North or South, is peculiarly rigid once a villain, always a villain; once a supporting character, always a supporting character and leading man 'hero' opportunities are all too often rigidly bound by family associations. For an outsider like Sunil totally unconnected to any of the great film families AND career-typecast as a comic supporting character (and specifically, 'the hero's funny fat friend' at that) to break into hero roles and succeed, as Sunil has is almost unprecedented.
His first leading role, "Andala Ramudu" (2006), was a one-off 'comedy entertainer', an extremely low-budget movie with limited release that performed unexpectedly well. Four years later, however, the breakout success of S. S. Rajamouli's sly masterpiece "Maryada Ramanna" (2010) proved that Sunil-as-hero was no fluke; Sunil won raves from audiences and awards from critics citing the unexpected range and depth and charm of his performance in the central role. Then in Ram Gopal Varma's biting industry satire, "Katha Screenplay Darsakatvam: Appalaraju" (2011), Sunil deservedly won raves as the straight man of the piece, aspiring director Appalaraju, about whom the whole mad mess revolved. Showcased Sunil's non-comedic dramatic range ... though still as a fat guy.
But in "Poola Rangadu"?
The training wheels as hero and the extra pounds are finally off. And HOW!
Trimmed down to the proportions of ... well ... exactly what one expects of a regular leading man, Sunil in "Poola Rangadu" conclusively proved the following:
1. Sunil need not be fat, to be funny.
2. Now that we can actually see what he looks like, sans the fat surprise! Give the man a neck and a waistline, and Sunil is quite remarkably handsome.
3. (Prabhu Deva having retired to a director's chair) Sunil may be the best male dancer currently active in South.
4. Yes, the ever-amiable Sunil can find a 'mean gene' and carry off a believable fight scene.
For me, the revolutionary thing about Sunil's climax scene in "Poola Rangadu" was less the much-vaunted 'six pack abs' than how Sunil demonstrated so convincingly that he CAN do a serious action sequence and make it 100% believable.
In "Poola Rangadu", Sunil has arrived as a legitimate film hero.
Tall, dark, & handsome ... action hero, romantic hero ... good dramatic range ... comedy genius ... box office success ... brains AND now body ... 'Skinny Sunil' works for me!
No wonder, directors are now reportedly falling all over themselves to sign Hero Sunil to high-profile "A" list projects.
But while we wait for what he does next, we can all have lots of fun enjoying Sunil's purely delightful "Poola Rangadu".
Carry on Jatta (2012)
Delightful Screwball Comedy
Sometimes ... we want to Just Have Fun.
"Carry On Jatta" is happy to leave 'solving the problems of the universe' to other movies.
This deceptively simple but extremely effective comedy transcends all barriers of time, or language, or culture, because its humour turns on basic quirks and basic relationships fundamental to the entire human race and thus immediately accessible. Young men will fall in love. Fathers and sons will misunderstand each other. Friends will try to 'help' but inadvertently make things worse.
Mix all these elements together with classic comic timing and perfect plotting under the deft hand of Punjabi director Smeep Kang ("Chakk De Phatte") and the result is ... very VERY funny!
Two lifelong friends Jas (Gippy Grewal) and Honey (Gurpreet Ghuggi) eagerly support each other through thick and thin and are basically good guys, despite being disregarded by their respective families. Jas lives with his father, a successful lawyer (Jaswinder Bhalla), and his older brother Goldy (Binnu Dhillon) and sister-in-law Diljeet (Anshu Sahni), while Honey is perennially chastised by his father, a police inspector (B. N. Sharma), for having no goals or ambitions in life. But this is not quite true. Honey has one ambition: his lovely girlfriend Preet (Khushboo Grewal). The lives of everyone, however, get turned topsy-turvy when Jas also falls in love, with the newly met but lovely Mahie (Mahie Gill). Jas and Honey will need all their ingenuity and luck! to outfox their families and achieve their objectives.
Sounds so simple, doesn't it?
Yet in the right hands even 'the obvious' can be much cleverer than it appears.
This 2012 Punjabi movie "Carry On Jatta" is one of those truly rare comedies that succeeds, not through attempting surprise twists (that rarely surprise, anyway), but by putting its business right up there in open plain sight for the audience ... and then skillfully playing on the audience's anticipation for everything that follows.
This is VERY hard to do and do well. But "Carry On Jatta" succeeds largely through the impeccable comic timing and talents of its ensemble cast.
Special credit to the two leads Gippy Grewal (who even sang all his own songs) and Gurpreet Ghuggi (nice to see him in a bigger romantic role) whose mutual comic chemistry went far to carry all this off so effectively. But the supporting performances by Jaswinder Bhalla and Binnu Dhillon as Jas' father and brother, respectively, were so delicious they almost steal the whole show.
There's this bit with a ladder ... ! ;-)
One minor quibble: it would have been nice to see the two heroines Mahie Gill and Khushboo Grewal, who were both quite good given more to do. Also, when the 'sins' of Jas and Honey finally come home to roost, the pacing of the denouement could have been slightly tighter.
But these are minor quibbles indeed, for a movie that otherwise manages to be so damn funny. Even the music by Jatinder Shah contributed to the delightful madness. The title track, "Carry On Jatta", is introduced over the opening credits and its theme reappears at such perfectly timed moments throughout the rest of the film that, long before the end, even just the reintroduction of that musical theme is enough to set the audience howling with laughter again.
Yes, but such fun.
I describe this 2012 Punjabi film "Carry On Jatta" as a 'screwball comedy' because I think this movie shares its comic heart with great old Hollywood classic screwball comedies from the 1930s like "The Awful Truth" (1937) or "My Favorite Wife" (1940). This film plays on the timeless element of brilliant witty farce that dates back through human history all the way back to Greco-Roman times, like "A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum" (1966, that lifted much of its material verbatim from the ancient Roman comic playwright Plautus).
Times change. Civilisations change. But no matter what, no matter when, human beings still need a good laugh!
Maryada Ramanna (2010)
Sometimes they get it ALL right!
The 2010 Telugu comedy thriller "Maryada Ramanna" completely delivers.
Perfect casting. Brilliant performances. Inspired direction. Deceptively simple but fiendishly clever script. Tight editing. Good thrills. Engaging romance. Delightful music. Witty dances. Emotionally satisfying. AND deliciously funny!
Best of all?
"Maryada Ramanna" is a straightforward (but amazingly effective!) cross-cultural adaptation of a 1923 silent movie classic: Buster Keaton's "Our Hospitality".
In place of the notorious Hatfield-McCoy feud in the 19th century U.S. skewered by Buster Keaton's movie, "Maryada Ramanna" takes us to India's modern-day Rayalaseema district, infamous for its centuries-old legacy of deadly 'factionalism'. But Rayalaseema, like the American 'Old South', is also famous for its culture of gracious hospitality toward guests. And therein lies the tale ... .
A young man named Ramu (Sunil) has grown up in the city, innocently unaware of having been orphaned in infancy through a family dispute-of-honour in his ancestral village. So when he learns he has inherited land in that far-off village, he immediately sets off to claim it not knowing that his cousins have sworn to kill his entire family. On the train Ramu befriends a fellow traveller, an artistic young woman named Aparna (Saloni Aswani) whose family belittles her gift. They are accidentally separated when the train arrives at the village. But when the unsuspecting Ramu asks for help with selling off his inherited property, he is directed to the local zamindar Ramineedu (Nagineedu) who graciously invites Ramu to his home for lunch before settling their business. Ramu happily discovers that his train-friend Aparna is Ramineedu's daughter. But only after Ramu is inside the house does Ramineedu discover that Ramu is, in fact, THE very man he and his two enormous bloodthirsty sons Mallasuri (Supreet) and Baireddy (Venugopal) have sworn to kill. However, their tradition of hospitality does not permit them to kill any enemy so long as he is inside their home. How will Ramineedu, Mallasuri, and Baireddy scheme to get Ramu outside the house? How will Ramu scheme to stay inside? Will Aparna help her family, or help her friend? How will ALL of us get out of this one! :-)
Ace director S. S. Rajamouli is best known for mega-hyped and epic-scale dramas such as "Chatrapathi" (2005) and "Magadheera" (2009), the latter reportedly the highest budget and highest grossing movie yet made in the Telugu industry. But it is this small budget, comparatively low-profile yet equally successful "Maryada Ramanna" that demonstrates Mr Rajamouli's real genius as both writer and director.
Casting extremely talented but relatively unknown actors was a calculated risk that paid off big time for Mr Rajamouli in this project. "Maryada Ramanna" was a film without a name 'star' in the traditional industry sense. Film newcomer Nagineedu deservedly cleaned up Best Villain awards as the loving-father/evil-avenger Ramineedu. The physically enormous classic bad guys, Supreet and Venugopal, had lots of fun as Aparna's angry brothers. Saloni Aswani was fresh, subtle, diverse, glowingly beautiful, and completely charming as Aparna; Saloni has more range and brings 'much more to the table' than most actresses in South and deserves more opportunities as Lead Heroine.
But Sunil? What a revelation!
For a man making only his second start as 'Hero' (after more than 100 movies typecast as the 'Hero's Fat Friend', always a comic supporting character), all I can say is: Why on earth did no one give him a chance before this?
As the hapless but not helpless! hero Ramu, Sunil proves himself a genuinely charming romantic lead, projecting excellent chemistry with his co-star Saloni and engaging the audience fully into the dramatic challenges faced by his character. Shed of his usual extra flesh, Sunil proves a surprisingly handsome hero, too. And a positively brilliant dancer. Yet with the peculiarly demanding requirements of this inherently-comic-but-must-be-played-straight role, Sunil's years of perfect comedy timing enabled a performance no one else currently alive, perhaps, could have carried off so deliciously.
'The Great Stone Face' himself Buster Keaton must be smiling in Heaven, at "Maryada Ramanna".