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Sex and the City 2 (2010)
Seems like a very poorly made super cheesy Bollywood movie!
I am a big fan of Bollywood films. But I just can't stand a poorly made one. And Sex and the City 2 was just that. The film does not have any story. The actors and actresses change into exotic clothes for no reason. The scenes suddenly break into poorly composed dance and song numbers. The film takes us to "exotic" locations completely out of context. Actors are unnecessarily loud and melodramatic. There is a bucketful of stupid, unnecessary sentimentality in every scene. There are ton of product placements and the whole movie seems like a one big commercial. Sex and the City 2 is not worth watching even on a pirated DVD, let alone in theaters. I feel let down. I want my money back. I am giving this a two star and not one star because of the conversation Charlotte and Miranda have over a glass of champagne on woes of parenting.
Pathetic! Avoid this film.
I saw Yuvvraj today in a theater and I cursed myself for wasting my hard-earned money on such a stupid movie. Zayed Khan cannot act. He should not be acting at all. Katrina Kaif cannot act as well, but she is much better than Zayed Khan. I was actually quite impressed and surprised by Salman Khan. He is the only saving grace of the movie. His performance was good, I cannot call it great, but reasonably good.
The storytelling was choppy, the script was confusing and the character development inconsistent and incomplete. The film just jumped from one theme to another and the story didn't flow at all. Towards the end I was like looking at my watch and just waiting for the film to end. It was really a waste of time, energy and money. It was not Subhash Ghai quality at all. I wonder if Subhash Ghai even directed this film, he must have just signed his name on it. The story-telling was so lame.
The only things I liked about the movie were cinematography and the songs. Gulzar once again has proved that he is the greatest song writer in India. A.R. Rahman music is quite good too.
Overall, avoid this movie. If it comes on T.V. then you can watch it, but don't spend your hard-earned money on this crap!
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
A great production value but insensible story telling
I saw this movie yesterday at MIAAC film festival in New York. I had heard great reviews of this film and was really looking forward to watching this film. the first 10 minutes were fantastic! It won't be an exaggeration if I say that it was work of a genius. I told myself that this is going to be a great, Salaam Bombay type of, film. The filmmaker seemed to completely understand the spirit of Mumbai and Mumbaites.
But the next hour and twenty minutes of the film were a disaster. Every clichéd and stereotype imaginable about India, Indian class struggle, Indian religious struggle was reinforced in the film in an even more exaggerated form. Every character in the film was either good or evil, black or white. Every system was either fair or unfair. There was no room for nuances and subtleties. The story telling was too much on the surface. For e.g. a scene from '92 riots, where a bunch of Hindu fanatics were attacking Muslims in their slums. That scene was a biggest turn off for me. I was in fact offended by the insensitivity and insensibility of the filmmaker who presented such a big historical tragedy in simplistic and stereotypical way. I have lived through those riots and I know exactly how it feels. It for sure wasn't as simplistic.
And the scene where the two brothers were pushed out of the train because they were stealing bread. Common! Give me a break! I have never seen such things happen in India in my entire lifetime. And I've lived in India for most of my life.
Also the kind Caucasian couple who graciously gives $100 to Jamal. I've never seen such kind tourists in India ever. I've seen Western tourists sometimes haggle for 10 cents. Forget India I've never seen such a gracious Caucasian exhibiting such kindness even in New York City.
And besides that Caucasian couple nobody from the higher economic strata of the society was kind and generous. Everyone was brutal, cruel, conniving...as if there were only two types of people in Mumbai.
This was yet another stereotypical Western view of a "third world country" gone wrong. I think this film is made purely for the Western audience, so that they feel good about themselves. The film does nothing else but reinforces the stereotypes. And after looking at all these favorable reviews I feel that there is a great divide between the way the West sees the world (or wants to see the world) and the way the world really is. One of the roles of media, in my opinion, is to challenge these stereotypes, whereas this film, to become popular, simply reinforces them. The film in my opinion is shallow, lame and absolutely insensible.
I gave it a generous four stars because I loved the cinematography and the performances. But I wish I could give negative points for storytelling.
There were so many things I didn't know
I didn't know that the 2002 Gujrat riots were actually a well planned genocide. This film was both enlightening and shocking in a way that it revealed a part of history that was kept hidden by media propaganda. Dholakia did an excellent and a very courageous job of unraveling the truth behind the brutal mass massacre.
As far as the actual story-telling is concerned, I would rate it average. I did not like the idea that the entire film was in English. The characters didn't seem credible. Also the characters were too stereotypical. The police officers, the right-wing Hindu Parishad members, the families. Everything was stereotypical, to the extent of being cheesy. The Parsi family was perhaps too loving, the police officers too brutal, the parishad members too crude, the music too sentimental, the American too stupid and self-righteous and the neighborhood too harmonious. The characters lacked depth, the story lacked layers.
But all in all it was an excellent effort. Great performances by Sarika and Naseerudin. And a great and a very bold effort of revealing the truth, which was perhaps kept hidden. I just wish that such an important issue was complemented by better film making. When I compare this film to Hotel Rwanda, this film falls flat on its face. But nevertheless I strongly recommend watching this film. It is an eye-opening film.
Changed my opinion about Rani Mukherjee
I had never carefully seen any of the Rani Mukherjee's films before Black. I always thought she was just one of those "chick flick" kind of an actress. I never took her seriously. But when I saw Black I was swamped. I was amazed. I was in awe! After a long time I remember crying and caring so much in an Hindi film. I have actually seen Black three times since then.
I am in love with Rani Mukherjee. She is up there in the list of my favorite Bollywood actresses along with Rekha, Madhuri and Wahida Rehman. And since then I have seen all the Rani's films.
But I am sorry to say Rani your rating is slowly dipping after that lousy Kabhi Alvida... and that horrible Babool. I think I will be back to being selective about your films again.
Dubai Return (2005)
A fun trip to Mumbai!
You have to be a Mumbaiaite to truly enjoy this film. "Curry patta in Mutton curry," "maska pao," "555 cigarette," "the chawl culture," "Sunanda," "Jaane Ja," everything is truly Mumbai. The film is hilarious - very original one-liners, insane, witty, unpredictable sequences, and great great great acting.
Much in the lines of "Jaane Bhi do Yaaro" (which perhaps is a better film) this dark, sarcastic, witty film is a fun trip. I am really waiting for the film's DVD to release so I can watch it again. Afterall, how often do I get to see such a well-made, original, brilliant piece on my very beloved "Amchi Mumbai." The film certainly deserves 8/10.
The Warrior (2001)
The film lacks Indianness
The other day I had an opportunity to watch a film of my favorite actor - Irfan Khan. What more can I say about the film - the film is technically perfect! Perfect cinematography, perfect locations, perfect acting, perfect special effects, perfect - loud and theatrical music...The film has a perfect recipe for an artsy, offbeat, film festival favorite, Indian film - some native music, vibrant colors, some poverty, some affective realism and some mysticism.
But the film lacked Indianness - the very Indianness it was perhaps trying to capture. The film lacked soul. The music was too loud, the colors too vibrant and the people too poor. The film was larger than India - it was magnified. It lacked India's simplicity. It lacked naturalness. It lacked the dialogues, the wit, the matter of factedness. The filmmaker was perhaps too obsessed with capturing an impressionistic India that he failed to capture the real India. Compare this film to "Mirch Masala" or "Manthan" and the film falls straight on its face.
I give this film 5 out of 10. And I am generous only because the film has my favorite actor Irfan Khan and he is too good. But I guess the filmmaker needs to spend more time in India to be able to tell India stories.
A total disregard for local support systems
I was born and raised in India and when I heard of Born into Brothels I was very curious to know what the film was all about. And my biggest criticism of the film is the film's gross misrepresentation of the situations and complete disregard for the local support systems.
There are a lot of local NGOs in Sonagachi and other red light areas in Kolkota who work for the betterment of living conditions there. They have been there for years and have done real grassroots work in India. Work which often goes unnoticed by the western media!
In fact Zana Briski received a lot of help from local NGOs. Local NGOs helped her with access, with the system and with some simple day to day jobs. But in her film she did not acknowledge a single local NGO. She portrayed herself as a Messiah on a mission to eradicate misery and hopelessness from these kids' lives. Her portrayal was absolute and self-propagandizing, not to mention contrived and cheesy. In her film she completely disregarded the social welfare system, although fractured but functioning, already in place.
Yes, the kids living Sonagachi don't have many opportunities, don't have a bright future and don't have the best living circumstances. But their lives are not as dark and hopeless as portrayed in the film. There are helping hands and there are people dedicated to the betterment of the living conditions. Indian government supports a lot of these local NGOs, India has free public education and health-care system. In Kolkota itself there are about 3000 registered NGOs supported both by Indian government and private funds. Yes there are rots in the system, but tell me one system that is really perfect.
But why would Zana Briski and Ross Kaufmann acknowledge these local efforts? They are filmmakers, they want drama, they want sensation. They want that classic underdog story. They want the story which the Western media would love, adore and accolade. They are not there to help the kids, but are there to help themselves.
Yes the film is beautifully made, but it is not really a documentary. It is not a fair and objective representation of the reality, which in mind ideally a documentary should be. But rather it is self-serving, westernized, and highly prejudiced manipulation of the reality.