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I Am Kalam (2010)
Dreams are awesome, they are magical and they turn true :)
Celebrate the power of dreams, celebrate the power of friendship and innocence, and celebrate the inherent goodness of human beings. Such a simple story, yet so powerful, that you feel yourself being lot of characters at the same time. Is the destiny pre-decided or is it that we make our destiny? I don't know, but I have always wanted to believe that its the latter. But either way, nobody stops you to dream or even try to fulfill those dreams.
Both the kids are amazing - Harsh Mayar playing Chhotu/Kalam is a naturally curious, street smart and a gifted kid. He doesn't care about his background and still wants to make big in life, and has his plans how to get there. Hussan Saad, playing the little royal price - he is a lonely kid with no friends of his age, lives a protected and privileged life, and is at loss to understand why others can't lead a similar life. I especially like when the young price imposes his royalty - like when he thunders on Laptan "how dare you call my friend a thief". Both the kids are so naturally comfortable in each others presence and consider each other as equals - that's the innocence till you are kids and is lost so fast when you grow up. Gulshan Grover is very good, with his teenage like crush and broken heart for that french traveler (who herself is pretty good). In a way, we have everything in this movie to complete the story - main character Chhotu/Kalam, supporting actor Kunver Ranvijay Singh, villain Laptan, and all other supporting cast.
My sincere thanks to the makers of this movie, I absolutely loved it.
If movies are form of art, lunchbox should be showcased in the finest of galleries
"We are what we want to be" - while, we have our limitations, but we can still try and get close to what we want. Not to belabor with my own biases, I think lunchbox might be one of the best examples of telling a story about routine and monotonicity of life, and where simple accidents can lead to a path on pursuit of happiness. The movie is about three characters. Mr. Fernandes - a widower, one month from retirement, social pariah, loner grumpy elderly man, who have resigned to his fate. Ila - a lonely neglected housewife, whose world revolves around her daughter, her neighborhood aunt, and her attempts to appease her husband through her food. Shaikh - soon to-be replacement of Mr. Fernandes, full of life and dreams, wants to make big in life and for whom failure is not an option. Its not hard to find a bit of all these three characters in oneself and no matter how you perceive each character at the start, but by the end, you feel for everyone in the movie.
Movie moves at a slow (but perfect) pace with its main characters going through their daily routines - traveling in trains, walking to their homes, making casual conversations, cooking food, eating food and offcourse we get a glimpse of near-perfect supply chain of mumbai dabbawaalas. Things change when after mistaken delivery, Fernandes and Ila start exchanging notes, and within those few scribbled words, they fall for each other and dream of finding solace with each other. While Irrfan has made peace with his current life, Ila is trying to fix her current situation with her jerk of a husband (yes, thats how he comes across), both of them realize that they can be happy by making that leap of faith, by breaking away and starting afresh. As both characters wait for that day's note and probably thats the best part of their day - Ila treats herself with tea while reading note and Irfaan unable to wait and taking off for early lunch.
At the same time,Shaikh is trying real hard to build relationship with Irrfan, and is ultimately successful in breaking that wall in Irrfan (which he guards so ostensibly) and is able to expose his soft underside. While at first, you think that Shaikh is that crooked smarty pants, who just wants to make it through, but as the movie progresses, you know that he is the one who knows to dream, who is unabashedly honest about things in his life and few things in the past, and isn't shy for asking anything. His insistence on asking Irrfan to try his "pasandas" and his story about his mom - all this so perfectly blends on his personality and his motto of life.
Needless to say there could not have been better cast. Irrfan, I believe is the best thing to have happened to Indian cinema in last 10 to 20 years. Nawazuddin is so natural that he doesn't have to try ever so hard to blend into his character. Nimrat was a revelation, is very beautiful and plays her part perfectly.
My highest praises are for Ritesh Batra, who has done unbelievable job as a first time director and I hope to see much more from him in the future. Script was extremely tight, screenplay was awesome. Director never had to try too hard to make a point or move the story - it simply flows through like poetry. Very rarely you see so many contrasting emotions in the same story - silence, loneliness, innocence, glimmer of hope, dreams, ambition, pursuit of happiness, courage to change.
My two favorite scenes - when Irfaan khan says that he has a girlfriend and when asked for her name, he takes his time, thinking if she really is his girlfriend, and then smiling through his eyes, says "Ila". Next favorite would be when Ila's daughter waves a real long goodbye to her mom, realizing that not everything is well in her mom's world.
I don't care much if it wins a big award or not, but if you love movies, this is a must watch.
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Excess, overboard, over the top?? - keep it coming, give me more of it
Goodfellas was the gold standard - it starts with unimaginable intensity and it ends with the same. While, goodfellas has the best ever portrayal of how mobsters might live their life and think about others, TWOWS gets close to telling a powerful story about debauchery, greed and extravagance in disdainful, abhorrent and empathy-lacking life of wallstreet traders. As "Rolling Stone" review says Scorcese has taken it over the moon, but you are going to completely love it. The movie is 3 hours long, but I could have controlled my bladder for 30 more minutes and taken on more of this magic. During all these 3 hours, I might have lost a little grip for a total of just 5 minutes. WSJ review says something about this being lengthy and being repetitive, mind-numbing drama. Really?? Suck it, grow up and learn something about movies and about storytelling.
I have been waiting for this movie for quite some time now and it turned out to be even better than I expected it to be. Leonardo has added another very strong bullet on his ever expanding resume. The movie is all about his character - I think he is there on screen for 90% of the movie. That scene where Leo is high on Quaaludes and drives back from country club, might be one of the funniest and among the best ever performances. Perhaps, this might be his lucky year for the Oscars. Jonah Hill is simply awesome, right from the point where he meet Leo and wants to work for him. The script, screenplay and dialogues are off the charts. This is dark and crude humor (and at times crass and outrageous) at its best, and the filmmakers make no attempt to sway away from that overall theme. I think movie lost a little intensity towards the end, and probably the last 15 minutes were its weakest. But, in-all this is among the best of this year. Thanks yet again Mr. Scorcese for all the entertainment.
American Hustle (2013)
The cast absolutely rocks
what you have is one of the best performances of the recent times by the "entire" cast (not just couple of them). Christian Bale is the master of makeover and is so much into character and at times hard to believe that the same guy played the famous caped crusader. Amy Adams was fabulous in "The Master" and is completely convincing as a conniving ruthless seductress. Jennifer Lawrence is adorable, playing that crazy, eccentric and loud mouthed wife - she might be the best female actor to have happened in last few years and next decade or so belongs to her. Bradley Cooper is great with his funny hair playing that over-zealous fed who wants to shake the whole system. I might be stretching it, but Renner has that aura of Joe Pesci. I absolutely loved everyone in the movie.
For me the story/plot was not the most original of all. If you have seen many of these, you know how it is going to end and who is gonna win. Sometimes, the predictable trying too hard with the cover of unpredictability (and all those twists and turns) can be off-putting. But, script is extremely tight and gripping. The chemistry between all the characters is almost natural. The dialogues are well thought and are timely hilarious. The camera and lighting, the costumes, hair-dos all take you to that 70-80s era. In all, a great job!
Blood Diamond (2006)
"you find yourself a good man, alright Maddy"
For me, there are three stories going on simultaneously in this movie. First is about the state of Sierra Leone and infighting over blood diamonds - this goes on in the background and forms the basis of whole movie. Second one is about Leonardo, the soldier, smuggler and the survivor, along with Solomon Vandy, the native, fisherman, and a father, and their search for the diamond and their lives in between. Third is the relationship between Connelly and Leonardo - I don't know if I can give it any name, but I don't think I have ever seen such a powerful unexpressed chemistry between two characters in any other movie (and I haven't seen Casablanca or Gone with the wind). There is no kiss, no hug, not even a handshake, there are just words, there are just unexpressed expressions through the eyes, movements of the throat and thats all you need (just to clarify I am more of a mafia, drama, biopics, history genre kind of a guy) Connelly is as beautiful as she has always been, even in her unglamorous journalistic attire, and is quite convincing in her character (perhaps too good looking). Leonardo is natural self, which means fabulous, may be at par with his Howard Hughes role in Aviator. In all, its a very tightly written gripping script - I watch it every time it is on TV (sometimes just to get to the last scene between Leonardo and Connelly). Pity that it didn't get any academy - I would have expected it to at least win for supporting actor or editing.
not just a typical teen movie; its for everybody
Standing in the line for tickets, with all these less-than-20-years ahead of me, I was a bit worried, but this movie goes beyond being just for a specific age group and might be one of the best in the last couple of years. I haven't been in an American high school but don't have to, in order to enjoy, understand and relate to this movie. Charlie is a more-than-typical introvert who while being extremely bright and sincere, has severe problems making friends, but ends being the best friend to two seniors (Sam and Patrick). Sam and Patrick are free liberal souls (with their own personal problems), who on the exterior are polarly different from Charlie and they want different things in life. But, they care for each other, they like each other's company, and I think like everybody else they are bound by one common aspiration - "to be happy". I think this is one of those movies where you want it to move really slow and you are not waiting for what next to happen, but instead you want to fully absorb what is happening in that scene. My most favorite scenes in the movie are when Sam and Charlie are alone in her bedroom, and when they tell about their feeling for each other. Entire cast is great, especially Emma Watson, who was extremely graceful in this movie. Director Stephen Chbosky has done an amazing job, and might have created his career's best work. I would expect this movie to be at least nominated for academy best picture.
7 Khoon Maaf (2011)
not the most entertaining, but still very good
the story line and plot is awesome, the script is pretty good, actors are one of the best in the industry, still this movie is not as gripping as it could have been. Perhaps, Vishal could have put more effort in editing it. Especially in the first half there are parts where you have to try hard to concentrate. Definitely it's not an entertaining movie (as compared to Omkara), but still its worth a watch. Priyanka lives upto Director's expectations - for me it was a real surprise that she was so "natural" in so many different characters (well, there were not so many, as you may tend to imagine from the title). Still, my favorite was her "Kashmiri Sultana" look. In the first scene of the movie, it seemed like if she is trying to redo Charlize Therorn (in Monster) or Renee Zellweger (in Bridget Jones Diaries) with her dark dusky puffed and "not so pretty" look - she may not win an Oscar, but a filmfare or even a national award may not be far fetched. There are movies which tend to make you curious about its book - this movie is one of those. Another thing I am not able to understand - in his attempt to give that retro look, filmmakers may have taken it too far; while they were talking about events in early and late 2000, why was PC for the most part in Sadhana and Saira Bano look. Even the camera could have been better lighted and scenes could have been more colorful. All the different husbands could have been given better and stronger roles. The climax was not at all predictable, but still closer towards being anti-climax - I would have liked it more if was more thriller type or more in line with story build up. Still, I liked the movie very much and everyone who loves the cinema should watch it. 8/10
Apocalypse Now (1979)
This movie is not from this world
Were they not the real soldiers? Was it not the real war? Was that not the real horror? Have the people not really gone insane? Was the movie really made on this planet and by some mortal human beings? Was it a video documentary or was it a movie made 5 years after the real war? Yes, to all of the above, but I have never ever seen any movie so close to reality or actually real. It was not a war movie, it was not a drama, it was simply a deeply touching horror drama. I am still wondering what should I make out of this movie, should I feel anything, should I be sorry about anybody if yes, about who?? American soldiers, Vietnamese, those tribals, each one of these or nobody? Coppola doesn't leave anything obvious and everything is open to your own interpretation he is at his arrogant best. Man, it takes inhuman guts to make such a movie or even think of doing it. He was fortunate to supported by such a able and gutsy team of editors, script writer, screenplay writers, cinematographer and so many other people. I am really surprised and disappointed that this movie was not awarded academy for Film Editing it's as ridiculous as it can be. My head still spins from imagining all these people living in those swamps and malaria invested waters for almost 2 years.
Talking about the cast, I would rather say that movie and its makers go way beyond the cast. Any other actors may have done equal justice (if not less) to the movie. This may sound highly uncharitable, especially to Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall (I don't mention Brando he was rather a waste, Coppola may have utilized that money somewhere else am I speaking out of my shoes?? ). Sheen was awesome awesome and hats off to all his effort, and it was rather wise (or fortunate) not to have Al Pacino in his place, but the movie is not about Captain Willard, Col. Kilgore and Col. Kurtz, it about everything around each of them it goes way beyond all these people.
In the end, "The End" will stay as my personal favorite for the most apt movie soundtrack of all times.
Japanese cinema at its best - a gift from Akira Kurosawa
Last night, I had this rare fortune of watching one more of Akira Kurosawa's magic "Ran". If you still haven't been able to lay your hands on it, make it the first thing on your priority list. How I wish, "Seven Samurai" could have been made in color. This movie is a pure joy to watch as good as are other attributes of the movie, the cinematographic excellence leaves any other movie ever made so far behind. I have liked "The Last Samurai" for its imagery and amazing color presentation, but even that movie pales if compared to "Ran". Opening scene is spellbinding - music score along with those moments of deafening silence is way too good. No doubt, it was the most expensive Japanese film ever made. Lord Hidetora is superiorly awesome (especially when he turns mad) and Lady Kaede at times seems to be even more ruthless than Nurse Ratched (was in "One flew over cuckoo's nest"). Also, so many subtle and some not so-subtle references to Buddha are timely and apt. However, I would confess that movie is not perfect - the attack on the third castle is more or less ordinary, and I do wonder how even in that wilderness, Kyoami was able to maintain squeaky clean clothes for himself and his master.
So, if you really love movies, go and grab it - a movie must to watch before you die!!!
Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006)
Munnabhai - the magic recreated!!!!
Probably, this is the best movie sequel ever produced in the Hindi cinema and surely would be one of the top ten comedy Hindi movies of all times. I can't remember if any comedy movie (hindi or other) ever been able to deliver such a strong message in such a subtle and non-preachy manner. Coming out of the cinema hall, you can't help from having that huge delightful smile on your face.. This movie isn't a sequel in its true sense; apart from the characters of Munnabhai and Circuit, there is nothing in common with its predecessor (unarguably, the movie would not have been possible without these two characters as in their original form).
Few reasons which turn it to a must watch movie:
1) awesome movie, with astounding screenplay, story, characterization and many other things. Its a 100% clean movie with no risqué dialogues, no item number, no vulgar dresses and no vulgar scenes, which is an achievement in today's times.
2) Performance of Munnabhai and Circuit duo - Sanjay dutt is undoubtedly the most lovable bollywood bhai, he is bit old now but still going very strong and Circuit has come up with his magic yet again, this guy's timing of dialogues is perfect... In all, the duo rocks!!!!!!!
3) Strong, strong and very strong message delivered... I won't delve much onto this or else risk disclosing the story and henceforth the fun... Everybody is going to respect Mahatma even more after watching this movie - bet you are going to love that enigmatic smile
4) Jhanavi (Vidya Balan)... such a graceful beauty, her face is like bright morning light; gosh, the lady literally smiles with her eyes, you are bound to fall in love with this gurl, just like Munnabhai.. apart from that she acts very well and gives a strong performance...
There are many more things that make this movie memorable and a treat to watch.... surely, something to watch before you die :-)