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Jodhaa Akbar (2008)
Gowarikar Wins Again!
Just saw Jodha-Akbar and here's a word of caution. The director has taken a few creative liberties with the story and that usually disappoints purists like me. I raged when I saw Troy; when I saw The Bourne Ultimatum; when they cut a crucial part of Alexander in our cinemas. And I cried when Santosh Sivan botched up Asoka! So am I disappointed with Jodha-Akbar? Not in the least bit! Firstly because, the movie gives a disclaimer before the move begins. Secondly, because tampering is minuscule, largely done only to flesh out the romance angle in the movie. Thirdly, because the soul of the story and the historical bits about what made Akbar great have been left intact. And finally, because I am a fan of the director Ashutosh Gowarikar has become.
The film is very well made. Excellent production values, thanks to UTV. The canvas is huge and the production values measure up to those of films like Troy. Although they're not as lengthy (and thus that detailed), this is pretty evident in the battle scenes.
The lead pair are very well matched. Two megastars of mainstream Hindi cinema in probably their biggest roles to date, looking good and essaying their roles very very competently. Aishwarya isn't really known for her acting, but she pulls off a role that could easily have gone very wrong if it hadn't been played with restraint. To this fan, is is difficult to imagine any other current actress in the role. Hrithik on the other hand makes it look effortless. He is wonderful as the young Mughal Emperor! This is one actor who has an extremely malleable face. A face that can look as easily retarded as it can look regal! In his relatively short career, Hrithik has already essayed a wide variety of roles, not all of them easy, and most of them very well. This is one guy who has the potential to dwarf every other megastar that Bollywood has seen! This writer personally believes that if he did indeed say that he will one day overtake Shahrukh Khan, he is setting his sights too low! The lyrics disappoint. In trying to chase authenticity Javed Akthar comes up with lyrics that don't roll off the tongue very easily. Probably the nicest song in the movie is the bhajan that Krishna devotee Jodha sings.
The narrative lags at times, but that is because of the nature of the subject and the director's desire to do full justice to it. The costumes one assumes are well researched and therefore fairly authentic, but it is the exquisite jewellery that really stands out! The action is excellent, but I must point out that some sequences have been lifted straight out of Troy, specially from the Achilles-Hector battle! Gowarikar repeats Bollywood's gilded baritone Mr. Bachchan does yet another turn as narrator.
The movie has a message for modern India. It shows how Akbar's rule of tolerance and peaceful co-existence set him apart from other so-called "foreign" rulers in the past, and how he managed to unite India into a massive empire under him, while other more partisan rulers failed at the same task.
Gowarikar is not your run of the mill director. He has made an Oscar nominee in the past; a Swades which I thought was a very good film; and he refuses to make crass commercial films that "may work with our masses". He is a responsible film-maker, a patriot to boot, who understands that he has the additional responsibility of educating the viewer and influencing his taste. It is pitiable that there are unnecessary controversies in Rajasthan about the movie. Instead of trying to negate undeniable facts, the Rajputs should feel proud of the part their princess played in India's history.
To me this movie is a victory of committed film-folk like Ashutosh Gowarikar, Ronnie Screwala and Hrithik Roshan over the unabashedly commercial, Bollywood pimp-brigade of Yashraj, Karan Johar and Shahrukh Khan. If you ask me where I would put my ticket money, it would (again and again) be on the former!
Om Shanti Om (2007)
OSO: best review I have read...
Even if one doesn't compare OSO to Karz, OSO comes up short! It pleases the NRI population that has only seen 6 Hindi films till date, and all of them are either Yash Chopra-SRK or Karan Johan-SRK films! It's obvious that they will like the movie as they've not had the opportunity to watch better Hindi Cinema. SRK is their world! The other segment it is targeted at is the teenyboppers or the masses that admire SRK for being a self-made star! They too know very little about good Hindi cinema to realize that they're being served sub-standard fare! Movies & actors that deserve a dekko are Seher & Arshad Warsi! OSO has SRK hamming to the hilt! His characters are playful but there is no effort at making them seem believable. Deepika is beautiful and seems to have transitioned well from looking good to emoting.
Farah & SRK are worshippers of the mainstream masala commercial Bollywood file? Fine! But they must do justice to the moviegoer & not insult his intelligence. OSO insults the intelligence of the moviegoer with SRK hamming in all the scenes.
Main Hoon Na to was an over the top masala film, but at least the overall product was believable. It entertained & didn't take the viewer for granted. OSO does & therefore disappoints! There is a better review of this film than mine. Here it is: http://greatbong.net/2007/11/12/om-shanti-om-the-review/
For anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet... Go see it!
For anyone who hasn't seen the movie yet... Go see it! It will move you; not in the English sense, but the Hindi one... It will Hilao you! And it'll strengthen your will to stay on in this country despite all kinds of devilish plans! And you will learn why Govind Nihalani is one of our best directors.
And even if this is stating the obvious, you will want to fall at Amitabh Bachchan's feet for being the actor he is. If it is possible to dwarf Om Puri, it's been done by Mr. Bachchan in this movie! In the Bandstand scene, he makes an actor of Om Puri's ability & stature look completely insignificant & pitiful. He's khaoed him!!!
That's one point of view though. Another point of view is that Om Puri being the actor he is understood the Bandstand scene very well & enacted the scene in line with the story & the characters.
Fardeen doesn't disappoint - he is as bad as he is in all his other movies. This is one actor who still hasn't learned to act, and probably never will.
Kisna: The Warrior Poet (2005)
Nothing survives Kisna...
Terrible, Terrible Movie!!! This pathetic attempt at a storyline, ruins the fledgling reputations of Sachin Bhowmick & Farrukh Dhondy, and causes further damage to Ghai's already in tatters reputation as one of Bollywood's erstwhile Moguls! Elements of Titanic and Lagaan were blended together in the hope of finding favour with the audience, but the story bored the hell out of viewers who went in expecting a different storyline! The ills of Kisna don't stop at unimaginative screenplay, but extend to direction as well. The movie drags adding to the viewers frustration. I've never been one of those who walk out from a movie halfway, but in this one I barely held on. I walked out cursing before the credits started to roll, something I make a point to see in other movies. Others didn't wait. They had long gone...
Even the acting was below par. Vivek Oberoi disappoints, but I guess even he saw no point in the movie & just went along with the director. The two lead actresses weren't much either. Isha & Antonia each bare half a breast in the movie, but even that will not salvage this movie. One can only pity Subhash Ghai...
This was my last Subhash Ghai movie. In spite of Trimurti & Yaaden, I had thought a filmmaker of his ability would come up with something interesting, but that was not to be. Once again, we had to be reminded that all filmmakers one day lose their touch. It's happened to greats like Hrishikesh Mukherji & Mahesh Bhatt. To lesser ones like Prakash Mehra & Indra Kumar. For it to happen to Subhash Ghai should come as no surprise. The signs have been there for some time.
What irks me most about the state of Indian Cinema are people like Ghai who make movies for commercial success. They are scared of taking a risk. As a result we have a slew of mediocre films. This mindset also prompts new entrants to the industry to ape former greats by playing safe, resulting in more bad films. There are actors in this category too who prefer playing safe, rather than acting... Actors like Shahrukh Khan.
And there are the gutsy filmmakers and actors. Govind Nihalani, John Matthew Mathan, Aamir Khan. Their movies are the ones that one should look out for. At least they're worth the wait. And your money. Because for now, I very strongly feel that Subhash Ghai owes me Rs. 160!
Great Movie! Good Solid Direction! Awesome Performances!!!
Here's very briefly what the movie is about:
It is the story of Helen Keller & Anne Mansfield Sullivan, suitably modified though, to nicely fit into the Bollywood mould.
That however should not take anything away from the three main highlights of the film:
Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Direction, Rani Mukherjee's execution of a difficult role, & Mr. Amitabh Bachchan!!!
Bhansali is best at stories highlighting human struggle. And with this adaptation he comes up trumps once again. He also proves that if you have a great story & just one great actor in a meaty role, you have a hit on your hands. Strange how the so called moguls of Hindi cinema cannot see that!
Rani Mukherjee's performance as the Indian Helen Keller (Michelle) is very commendable. It is just her misfortune that she was pitted against Amitabh Bachchan in the BEST Role (Devraj Sahay) of his life!!!
Mr. Bachchan tends to dwarf everyone. To all those who doubt that he is the GREATEST Actor this country has produced, go watch Black. You will return transformed for life! From the moment he comes on screen, he mesmerizes you. And he holds you till the last frame of the movie. He gives you goose bumps with his performance. And to think that the effort doesn't even show...
Now if only other film makers would give him roles worthy of his calibre as an actor, we could well have our first Best Actor Oscar ever. No kidding. Go see the film!
And Oh! I almost forgot. The little girl who plays the young Michelle is the best child actor this author ever seen! And that includes the Macaulay Culkins & Haley Joel Osments of the world!
Trust me! Go see the film!