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By calling itself 'Yeh Saali Zindagi', the film projects itself as a
new age bollywood flick with an attitude. Its masala is heartily
delivered to you through its well written dialog. As it manages to trap
you and times confound you with its myriad twists, its likable
characters mouthing smart-but-raw lines engages you. The songs too are
decent and complement the film.
The film has multiple plots crisscrossing each other. One is about Arun (Irfan Khan) an accounting whiz who is hopelessly in love with a Priti (Chitrangada Singh) who sings in hotels for a livelihood. But she is in love with Shyam who is set to be married to the daughter of a Minister. On the other hand, there is Kuldeep (Arunoday Singh) who seeks domestic bliss from wife Shati (Aditi Rao Hydari) but can't part ways with a well paying life of crime.
Things get complicated when a jailed former henchman of the Minister arranges a kidnap that goes wrong. The story then gets into a spiral of deceit and corruption. What puts you off is its motley of characters each of whom is introduced with a narrative. Contrived as its characters and twists may seem, you give up trying to make sense of it and enjoy the flow.
Despite it having a good amount of bloodshed, the film is not violent. Though dealing with goons, the movie can be funny! The good thing about it is that it doesn't give you a heavy head and you may as well enjoy it again, for its dialog, if telecast on TV anytime in future.
Shot around Delhi, it is nice to see that movie makers in the recent years have shed the Mumbai obsession in their films, especially if it had anything to do with goons, guns and money. The new flavor that these films carry is surely ringing in the moolah.
Among its leads, Irfan Khan steals the show as the despondent lover, ready to give up all for a woman who doesn't love him! And he does it willingly! Chitrangada, well, all her roles seem the same! Abhimanyu Singh who made his mark in Aisha and Mirch was probably too sophisticated to play a goon. Still, it's good work! Pretty Aditi Rao Hydari had little else to do except slap Kuldeep and be served with his lip-smacking recipe to tranquilize her!
Gangsters, corrupt politicians, financiers with shades of grey aren't usually a fertile ground for a new story. It is where directors like Sudhir Mishra make up for it by bringing in too many characters, especially quirky ones, forced twists and raw dialog. But made on a modest budget, 'Yeh Saali Zindagi' is watchable and would make a decent choice for some weekend fun.
It isn't uncommon to see misery and human suffering attracting
attention of critics and the jury. Alejandro González Iñárritu's
earlier film 'Babel' addressed the same theme across borders and this
time it is someone's downhill journey. While I felt 'Babel' was a
pointless tale of pain, Biutiful gets it right by his character a
motive and putting hurdles along his way.
Titled as the way the Spanish spell Beautiful, it is a two and a half hour drama on the last days of Uxbal as he seeks to tie up a few loose ends before his cancer kills him.
Swimming in the filth of Barcelona's underbelly, Uxbal is a middleman for employing illegal immigrants, helps them sell their wares and goes out of his way to help some of them. In brief, he is a thug but a good man at heart. But, does he do so because he knows he is dying?
Uxbal takes up most of the screen-time. But there is not a moment when you feel that Javier Bardem (seen in 'Vicky Cristina Barcelona') is not Uxbal. In what is a first Oscar nomination for a character in an entirely Spanish film, Bardem brings out the character's anguish and helplessness as a single father seeking some closure. That includes arranging care for his kids, bridging ties with his estranged wife and helping people amidst a life of crime.
The film has reportedly taken more than 3 years to make from when it started being penned. Probably the best thing about its script is that its characters and situations emerge out of dialog and visuals rather than relying on narrative. Be it his cancer, or his wife prostituting for drugs, lives of illegal immigrants, corrupt cops and what drives Uxbal.
The setting, bereft of glamor or anything cheerful is carefully chosen to reflect the mid of its central character, its tiresome length and overdose of visuals wear you down. Also, a few scenes showing Uxbal speaking to the dead were completely avoidable.
If you can assure yourself that you would watch the film without being affected by its misery, the film is worth watching. Never mind the empty seats around; this isn't a commercial flick.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After two successive hits, 'Main Hoon Na' and 'Om Shanti Om', the bare
minimum that you expect from Farah Khan is a pop-corn entertainer or at
least a fare that you can tolerate for a couple of hours. Well, that
didn't happen with 'Tees Maar Khan'.
If it were so bad, one would wonder, did she keep up with Akshay Kumar's track record of mindless comedies especially those with Katrina which raked in moolah? No way! She just took his comedies to an all time nadir sure to fail miserably at the Box Office.
While Farah Khan stands to take all the blame for being the Director, in fact, Shrish Kunder seems to be errant. Juggling writing, editing, lyrics and production proved to be too much for Kunder whose previous outing with Akshay, Jaan-E-Mann had flopped baldy. She probably had a tough time melding family and business.
Based on a 1996 Peter Sellers starrer, TMK is about Tabrez Mirza Khan (Akshay Kumar) who calls himself semi-Robin Hood, for he steals from the rich but gives not to the poor. Obviously, catching him is a tough act for cops. He is hired by con-men Johari Brothers (Raghu and Rajiv of 'Roadies' fame) to steal a train full of antiques.
To accomplish this, he masquerades as a Hollywood Director Majoj Day Ramlan and stages the act of making a film. He casts an Oscar-obsessed star (Akshaye Khanna) and his B-grade wannabe actress girlfriend Anya (Katrina Kaif) and deceives an entire village into accompanying him thinking that they're acting out a crucial scene.
Although the premise itself may not be a bad thought, considering that it worked for an earlier film, incoherent scenes, poor dialog, taste- less humor et al lead to the most worthless two hours of your life. Farah the Choreographer excels with songs Sheela-ki-Jawani and Wallah- Re-Wallah, but they do too little to keep the sinking TMK afloat.
For the filmmakers, disability, color or gender preferences seem to be source of their humor. While one was a joke on a dark robber being visible only when he smiled, the others included Siamese twins who seem to talk simultaneously and a villager with a skin condition being cast as a Briton. Three villagers dressed in Pink act effeminate and a cop- duo chasing Khan are shown to be amorous.
True, brainless comedies often work, but TMK seriously undermines audience intelligence. If Farah Khan and Shirish Kunder thought casting a hit pair, copying a foreign film, a couple of songs and silly gags are all that movie should have, they've been caught on the wrong foot. To keep your sanity, just stay away from this flick.
In the closing credits, the film-makers are seen awarding themselves. Let them, for they won't be able to lay their hands on the real stuff anyway!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Rakht Charitra I is the first of the two part saga on politics of the
90's in Anantapur District of Andhra Pradesh riddled with factionism
and revenge killings. With his latest entry, Ram Gopal Verma is back to
what he knows best, gangsters and violence.
Supposedly a biopic of a slain politician from the region, the movie traces the entry of young Pratap Ravi (Vivek Oberoi) into the path of violence from where he steps into politics. The killings begin when Pratap's father falls out with local politicians Narasimha Reddy & Nagamani Reddy leading to his murder and his brother death in a fake encounter. Pratap goes on to avenge the deaths by killing the Reddy duo.
Politics beckon him when actor turned politician, Sivaji Rao is on the look out for someone who can take on the sons of Nagamani Reddy, Bukka and Puru, the latter running for the State Assembly. Despite attempts by Bukka to sabotage the elections, Pratap wins the seat. What follows next is to be seen in the forthcoming flick.
Predictably, this flick is all about Bloodshed and an ominous background score. Well, the humming of the movie's name in the background has an uncanny resemblance to the 'Govinda' humming seen in Verma's Sarkar. The killings which include driving a drill bit into the head or guillotine with a Surgarcane cutter can be quite unsettling.
Some good acting holds the movie together. While Vivek Oberoi doesn't put a foot wrong as the protagonist, it is Abhimanyu Singh who takes the cake for his portrayal of the brutal and despicable Bhukka Reddy, the key antagonist of the first film.
Usual screen baddies, Kota Srinivasa Rao, Ashish Vidyarthi et al too make their mark. Radhika Apte as Pratap's love interest and consort has not much of a role except for looking wide-eyed as the politics unfold in front of her. Shatrugan Sinha's portrayal of NTR's likeliness is also noteworthy. The second movie releasing later this month would feature Tamil star Surya as the protagonist's arch nemesis Suri.
With Bollywood audiences already having changed preferences from violence to comedy, this doesn't come as a typical movie goer's weekend entertainer. Not having an item song that is typical to this genre could have had its effect the film's marketing.
If not for anything else, those keen on having a glimpse of the region's politics in the not so distant past, can give Rakht Charitra a try.
Danny Boyle became a household name in India with 'Slumdog
Millionarie'. As much as it attracted criticism for typecasting India,
his skills at filmmaking accumulated accolades. Boyle teams up yet
again with the Maestro, AR Rahman, screenwriter Simon Beaufoy and
producer Christian Colson for '127 Hours'.
Shot on location at Utah, it is based on true account by Aron Ralston in his book 'Between a Rock and Hard Place'. The film deal's with the protagonist's ordeal for more than 5 days after a fallen boulder crashed on his arm and trapped him in an isolated canyon. The lack of food and his dwindling water can made it worse. James Franco (Harry Osborne in 'Spiderman') plays Aron Ralston's part to perfection.
The movie doesn't dwell on whether Ralston did or didn't do something right. Rather, it is his varying emotions that take the center-stage. Amidst the rocky hopelessness around him, he reminisces his family, draws recollects his last best moments with the passersby he had just met, his thirsty thoughts traveling to the half-filled drink bottle in his car, keeping his spirit alive and finally, garnering the courage to redeem himself.
The biggest challenge in a solo film is zero opportunity for dialog. The writers make up for it by interspersing it with recollections, wishful thoughts and self recorded videos. That said '127 Hours' excels at dramatizing the events visually. Cutting between character's point of view and close up of the expressions and then putting in some detailed slow motion shots, the camera work is simply mind blowing.
To its credit, its portrayal of events has a 'thumbs up' from the real- life Aron Ralston! But, turning what could have been a great documentary on TV into intense drama on the big-screen marks Danny Boyle's achievement. AR Rahman's ominous music contributes to intensifying the drama. And, its editing has drawn applause too.
Goodies apart, '127 Hours' may not be suitable for all audiences. A certain scene (not discussed here) without which the story wouldn't have been complete could be termed 'gory'. But if you think you can stomach it, this flick is not to be missed!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
When I saw the station 'Masterda Surya Sen' on Kolkata Metro sometime
ago, little did I know about his history or the fact that he was a
freedom fighter! That our mainstream history text books don't talk
about it makes this a little piece of history obscure. Revisiting
history for the third time, Ashutosh Gowariker brings to the big
screen, Manini Chatterjee's book Do or Die on the Chittagong Uprising
Abhishek Bachchan portrays Surya Sen, a revolutionary who along with his associates puts together a band of patriotically motivated teenagers and trains them for a planned synchronized attack on key bastions of the British Raj in Chittagong. They are assisted by two women, Kalpana Dutta (Deepika Padukone) and Pritilata Waddedar.
Some of the scenes, mostly shot in Goa are well done, including those in the aftermath of the attack on the cantonment in which the young revolutionaries are hunted down in the jungles is particularly moving. Despite losses, the protagonist masterminds an attack on the European club; the ripples of which reached London's powers that be.
To his credit, the filmmaker didn't make a mockery of the story, a la Ketan Mehta's Mangal Pandey: The Rising. But rather than plain enactment of history, the audience would have wished to know more about the persona of Masterda, his motivation for the freedom struggle and his choice to rope in impressionable teens.
Despite best intentions, 'Khelein Hum..' neither has excitement of 'Lagaan' which was also an anti-gora period flick, nor the management lessons that it packed in. In reality, putting together 64 boys against a powerful empire was no mean achievement!
Surya Sen's character surely deserved better than a clean shaven Abhishek Bachchan mouthing lines sans passion. Deepika deglamorized, was no less stunning, but the script didn't have much for her; the romance between the lead pair seems forced too.
Best performances come from the likes of Sikander Kher who played Nirmal Sen and others who played Ganesh Ghosh, Ananta Singh and Ambika Chakraborty. Those who played Englishmen were horribly miscast; the lesser said the better.
Although this is among Gowariker's least lengthy movies, a bit more scissor-work was needed. Sohail Sen's music is bland when pitted against the memorable tracks that marked Gowariker's earlier hits. The breathtaking cinematography too is missing.
So, if this all about a lengthy tale with bad acting and not many melodious songs, then why watch this movie? That's because, Gowariker, in a way, pays tribute to those martyrs of a little known story and there is a sense of sincerity in the way the story is told. If you have three hours to spare, you may give this history lesson a chance.
A bunch of dissatisfied characters exploring new relationships; does
that sum-up this flick? Yes, as is the case with most other Woody Allen
films. But then, does it work? Nah, not this time around, at least. You
Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger lacks the wit that marks his work. If
'Annie Hall' is his gold-standard, this one is way too mediocre.
Helena (Gemma Jones) is dumped by her rich husband of forty years Alfie (Anthony Hopkins) who's seems to have forgotten that he's aging too and chases a young gold digging hooker Charmaine (Lucy Punch). While Helena seeks solace in the words of a phony fortune teller recommended by his daughter Sally (Naomi Watts).
Sally, an art major is stuck in a bad marriage with Roy (Josh Brolin) and falls for her employer Greg (Antonio Banderas) who's hitting on her protégé Iris (Anna Friel). Roy, a former doctor and one-book wonder with a writer's block starts to take an interest in neighbor Dia (Freida Pinto), a musicologist who's already engaged.
Going by the trend of his recent films being based in Europe, this entrée is set in London. But, barring the accents of its British cast, black Taxicabs and Shakespeare quotes in the familiar Woody Allen narrative, there is little else to tell it apart from his regular New York based films with the big-city-n-lost-souls theme.
The stellar cast is let down by a bad script and half-hearted directorial effort. No wonder Anthony Hopkins and Josh Brolin merely sleep-walk through it. Still, Antonio Banderas in his brief role and Lucy Punch do sparkle. Freida Pinto had little else to do other than to eternally dress up in red and keep her obsession in the West alive.
Where it falters critically is when it merely skims the surface rather than engage the audience to take an interest in its characters. Lacking the drama that is normally expected of this genre, it ends up being a melange of affairs. In the end, you don't really care as to what happens to whom! This 'stranger' is quite forgettable!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Coming from director Tony Scott whose work amazed us in 'Top Gun',
'Unstoppable' marks his second film following 'Taking of Pelham 123' to
feature trains that also starred Denzel Washington. While Washington
got busy battling a devious market manipulator played by John Travolta
in the earlier flick shot on New York metro, Unstoppable pits him
against 777, an unmanned runaway train in Pennsylvania.
Frank Barnes (Washington) is an old railway engineer on his way out on compulsory retirement is paired up with a newbie conductor Will Colson played by Chris Pine, last seen in the latest Star Trek rehash of 2009. Despite getting off a rough start, the duo has to put aside their differences to stop a speeding train laden with hazardous cargo.
The flick is loosely based on a real life incident in Ohio in 2001 where a 47-car CSX train left the yard unmanned and could only be stopped after it clocked 66 miles.
For the film, CSX becomes the fictional Allegheny West Virginia Railroad, top speeds cross 70mph as against 47 managed by CSX. While none were injured in the real incident, the film had to have its actors bloodstained! The dangerous elevated curve wasn't there and the filming location doesn't really have precariously placed oil tanks! Obviously, lots of stuff gets thrown in to make it a fast paced action thriller.
The story did have a lot of real stuff, like the driver stepping out to adjust a switch, train cars with molten phenol, the portable derailer failing, cops nearly hitting the fuel cap, another train with a veteran and a newbie latching on to slow the train and finally having a staffer to jump on the slower train to take control.
While Denzel Washington delivers usual stuff expected of a veteran that he is, Chris Pine takes the cake for having performed all his stunts on his own, a commendable feat. Camera work is well done and when put together by some neat editing the million tons of steel on the run gives the adrenalin rush. Forget the technical mumbo jumbo though on dynamic brakes or reversing traction; it's a plain no-brainer action flick.
Although there isn't much that you would expect for a story or a diabolical villain that gets beaten in the end, 'Unstoppable' gives you just as much entertainment as a ride in an amusement park. Though not giving you something for you ponder over for days, it does make a fine entertainer, never mind the many plot holes. If you are looking for a couple of hours of pastime worth your money, be sure to give this a try!
There is nothing that Rajni Can't is just one of those myriad SMS and
email gags that go around. Although Rajnikant's antics really need no
introduction, this time, his usual stuff is delegated to an android in
his latest entry, 'Robot'.
Dr Vaseekaran, a robotics scientist, played by a professorial looking Rajnikant has worked for a decade developing a mechanical soldier for the Indian Army who is christened by his mother as Chitti also played by Rajni. Busy as he has been, he hardly has time for his lady love Sana (Aishwarya Rai), tad old to play a college girl though.
For Vasi to realize his dream, Chitti needs approval by an agency that is chaired by his mentor Dr Bohra (Danny) who rejects Chitti out of sheer jealousy and that the Robot cannot feel emotions. Now upgraded, Chitti starts to feel emotions. Predictably the Robot falls for Sana, putting the creator and his creation on the warpath.
Romance apart, the plot draws heavily from 'I-Robot' (2004) where it was about the Artificial Intelligence server finding creative interpretations to Asimov's 3 laws of Robotics. Something similar was also seen in last year's 'Eagle Eye'. Probably to avoid complication, or to make it palatable to romance-happy Indian Audience, the plot here is different. I'm also told that the story is based on a 70's Tamil novel.
A Rajni starrer that its, one can expect the usual overdose of drama. But, in his professorial role, this time, he chooses not to defy laws of Physics! It's the android that takes the center-stage and the film doesn't cut corners to make it seem realistic. The believable special effects have surely has taken Indian film-making to the next technological orbit; although with a little help from the folks from Hollywood.
AR Rahman's average fare is a let down. The story often breaking into a song-dance sequence every few minutes is hardly amusing. Of these, 'Kilimanjaro' deserves a special mention for its choice of Machu Picchu as the shooting location. Curiously, the song is named after a mountain located a third of the globe away!
Coming to casting, the average age of the lead pair is close to 50! Food for thought, huh! Those playing Rajni's sidekicks stick out like a sore thumb as they shamelessly call themselves scientists on screen and are hell bent on sabotaging the project and dish out woefully subterranean humor. The script definitely needed a lot more work.
Thus said, it's only fair to say that this is a review of 'Robot' and not that of 'Enthiran'. It's possible that a lot of humor and dialog must have been lost in translation.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Raajneeti was undoubtedly among the most awaited films of this year.
Coming from a director known for skills at political thrillers that are
unabashedly brutal, this one is no different. While violence and
killings may not suit everyone's palette thus bringing on some
criticism, one cannot deny it the credit for a fast paced script and
in- your-face approach. The galaxy of actors makes sure that you don't
get bored either.
It begins with the incapacitation of Bhanu Pratap, the leader of Rashtrawadi Party that brings out the battle between cousins in the open. It is Prithvi (Arjun Rampal), the son of Bhanu's brother seen batting the ambitions of Bhanu's own son Veerendra (Manoj Bajpai) who is miffed at being overlooked for the party president post. The latter then befriends a youth leader Sooraj Kumar (Ajay Devgn) who becomes his man Friday.
The scene is now dotted with political murders. Following his father's killing, Samar (Ranbir Kapoor) vows revenge and engineers a string of killings and political moves including a marriage of convenience with Indu (Katrina) just to see his brother Prithvi win. But unknown to them and to Sooraj is that the latter is their step brother, born out of the affair between their mother and leftist Bhaskar Sanyal (Naseeruddin Shah).
To a large extent, the tale seems to have its roots in the Mahabharata. While Rampal & Ranbir play Bhima & Arjuna, Katrina is Draupadi. With Ajay Devgn being Karna, his mother is Kunti and her brother Nana Patekar, Krishna. The antagonist Manoj Bajpai is the obvious Duryodana. Parallels to The Godfather can't be ruled out either as Bhim and Arjun here are in a way similar to Mario Puzo's Sonny and Michael Corleone.
Contrary to the extent that the promos had projected her role, Katrina didn't have much to do. An eye candy in the beginning, a political pawn in between and a grieving widow who turns victorious in the end is all about it. In effect, Jha has come out clean from allegations of her role being based on a leading political matriarch.
The most commendable effort here is in Production design, chiefly in making political rallies look realistic. Following this are the script and editing that only slip up by adding a song in between that is sorely a misfit. The strength of its story is also the fact that Raajneeti doesn't take sides or make moral judgments. The occasional 'yeh raajneeti hai' (this is politics) aptly describes the settings and puts events in perspective.
If the political drama regularly seen in the media is not good enough for you, or if you are keen on watching it all summarized in 3 hours, Raajeeti is the film for you.
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