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Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi (2008)
Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi is a sweet love story that sweeps you away with its earnest emotions and imperfect characters that vouch of their virtues and vices just like you and me. The plot may be something you would be if not hugely, yet slightly skeptical about, but it works because of these very characters who breathe the same air, eat the same food, and dream a little dream just like you and me. The hero is an 'aam aadmi' who could be your neighbor, someone you see everyday on train or bus on your way to work. He wears sports shoes with dull color shirts and timeworn pleated pants; he is a man with ordinary looks almost like sarkari babus, shopkeepers or sales men from old Delhi or here more specifically, Amritsar. He is a man of mediocre stature and boasts of only unambitious common-man material needs. He is no 'Rahul' that thanks to recent breed of cinema is symbolic of rich chocolate boy image. But Surinder Sahni a.k.a. Shahrukh Khan can't resist the temptation to be 'Raj' 'naam toh suna hoga', again, the name and portrait he has immortalized since DDLJ. He is not Jim Carrey in The Mask who aspires to be a superhero to his alter ego. Garish in his makeover, with unsteady and unsure steps, Raj dances with his dream girl to make her laugh and fall in love. You don't see a black and white distinction between Suri and Raj and that's what transpires into a masterly screenplay and brilliant direction. There is a little Raj in Suri and vice-versa. Without fearing to give away much in this review, even though the story is largely predictable, the film exhibits an array of heartfelt scenes. There is a scene where Suri contemplates leaving a red rose with the breakfast he prepared for his wife. It's a beautiful scene that is suggestive of the protagonist's love that is throbbing to express itself. But Suri being what he is must contain his love where Raj is able to take it a leap above its counter self and voice his love from ridiculous to sublime. Another scene where a victorious Raj surprises you by crying for Suri who is slacking behind him in winning the same lady-love, gives you a tug in your heart. Music-wise 'Haule Haule' is one of the best songs to come out of Bollywood in a long time. It's earthy, colorful, with lyrics that describe the whole mood of the film. The pace of the film is tolerable, if not fast. Dialogs are not as good as Aditya Chopra's other films like DDLJ or Mohabbatein, but still they work because they are mouthed with sincerity and passion. But yes, the number of times the word 'Pyar' is used in the movie, pushes it over the borderline for high or too much sugar. May be as a promotion, the producers could have quizzed the audience on how many times the characters mouth that word! Vinay Pathak as Bobby; Suri's childhood friend is very effective. The newcomer Anushka Sharma was a brilliant choice. She is a complete natural but kudos to Aditya Chopra for sketching her character with subtlety and not making the audience suffer any melodrama by making her erratically jump into her sad past at every given opportunity. Finally, why Rab Ne
will really work? One word, which is also the final word-SRK.
Don vs. Don. And the Winner is...
AMITABH BACHCHAN. The new age Don is equipped with sleek laptops, swanky Mercedes and Bond like watches. The canvas has switched to Malaysia. Clearly Farhan Akhtar's Don is laced with the right ingredients to mousetrap all three- AB, SRK and Kareena Kapoor generations. The cheese looks inviting enough but unlike wine that only gets better and more intoxicating with time, the Farhan Akhtar brand of Don Cheese only leaves you with a bland taste in your mouth. It was indeed very daring of the filmmaker to attempt a remake of the film, revered to date for its slickness ahead of its time, plot that took speedy turns without making you giddy and most remarkably, it created the characters, whether that of Roma, Kamini, Vardhan, Desilva and of course Don that immortalized themselves even when layers of time shrouded them. This is one of the inherent reasons why the daredevil in Akhtar in-spite of his earnest intentions failed to even pierce, forget breaking the mold of those immortal ones. Does the new Roma redefine the feline like distinction that the older Roma stealthily leapt with? Is the seduction dance of new Kamini as spine shivering as was the old Kamini's, or did the new Kamini not simply sway away on a lifeless singing of Sunidhi Chauhan's version of 'Yeh Mera Dil'? The original Don was the cult film. Even if nobody admits it but desired to make a bigger film than that or slyly wanted a free joyride hanging onto its coattails, the convenience or the effort doesn't pay off. Why? Because you can either make a film inspired by the original or let your version be an absolute tribute paid to it. You cannot have your cake and eat it too! The new Don reprints the characters, lyrics, dialogues, theme, etc. but forgets to revive them with the real 'Don' soul! Even with the noblest of intentions, it was blasphemous on the filmmaker's part to switch characters, render a visually weak song like the ever-popular 'Khaike Paan Banaras Wala' and most unapologetically distort the story and the plot. No one can forget Dev Anand's classic 'Jewel Thief' and no one would want to remember its gross sequel 'Return of the Jewel Thief'! Ring a bell? The movie in the second half stumbles and fumbles when the director tries to do an 'abracadabra' and throws pigeons and rabbits one after another at the audience for the assumed results. When Amitabh essayed the role of Don, he almost wore 'the mask' of Don, like Jim Carrey physically and innately wore, imbibing the mask's own meanness and personality in the film. Unfortunately, SRK despite his most arduous efforts, failed to capture the depravity that was the apotheosis of the real Don. The film will have the decent run at the box-office for its obvious star value and hype. But this is a lesson for all of those filmmakers who think they have the hit formula up their sleeves. Weather its Dutta brand of Umrao Jaan or Ramu ke Sholay, remember that when ambition exceeds ability, the likelihood of success is limited.
Darna Zaroori Hai (2006)
Darna Zaroori Hai or Darna Mana Hai Part-2 ??
Ram Gopal Varma is indeed a filmmaker who likes to juggle hats when it comes to film-making. It's hard to slot him as a director of single or specialized genre. From underworld mafia gang-wars to 'rangeela' musicals, he has proved himself to be the demigod of experimental cinema. The Indian cinema seems to on an upswing and the golden era is not too far, as our optimism grows with a row of hits and different films like 'Zinda', 'Rang De Basanti', 'Gangster' or even the film that boasts of a rustic comic streak 'Malamaal Weekly'. In the light of being uncommonly charitable to most of the recent Indian films, what do we think of 'Darna Zaroori Hai'?
When you read the label on the bottle that says 'POISON' in red color, you won't dare to meddle with it, unless you are on a suicide mission. But when you read the title 'Darna Zaroori Hai', you want to be SPOOKED with the capital S. So, does the film manage to scare you? The answer, 'NO'! An ensemble of quite predictable seven short stories, the film proves to short circuit right after the first story, directed by Sajid Khan; intelligent story line, great acting by Manoj Pahwa, sharp camera work and sound recording. To be fair, another story worth mentioning is the one directed by Chakravarthy (of Satya fame), starring Randeep Hooda as the man possessed. Ram Gopal Varma, the man who claims to love the world of horror and directed spine-chilling 'Bhoot' in the past, ironically tells the story in this film, which is perhaps the weakest of the seven stories. Though ironically again, the acting by Amitabh Bachchan in that piece, as a man intimidated by an invisible entity, is top notch, as the man delivers the expressions of trepidations with the most natural ease. Riteish Deshmukh, his co-actor also delivered a pro-reactive set of emotions, with brilliance. A story that seemed like revenge onto life insurance agents again, had powerful acting by Rajpal Yadav. But was it scary? No. Comparing the sequel to Varma's first, 'Darna Mana Hai', this one has weaker story lines and yet scarce punch of the ghost factor. Our verdict: Good for a DVD scare. -Nidhi Kathuria
Lage Raho Munna Bhai (2006)
Munna Meets Mahatma Gandhi!!
The second innings of Munna Bhai and Ciruit in 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai' is one cracker of an innings! It's better than the first one, extracts more laughs and punches and the characters have a more humane temperament that explores the other side of 'bhaigiri'. The plot is truly the winning card of the movie, not to discount the effective casting, dialogues that are a mix of funny and introspective, a rib-tickling screenplay, enjoyable situational songs and a first rate direction. Sanjay Dutt as Munna Bhai and Arshad Warsi as Circuit wear their characters as their second skins, more comfortably, more snuggly and are more lovable than their avatars in the earlier Munna Bhai MBBS. Ditto for Boman Irani who dons the role of Lucky Singh, a sardarji builder; a meanie with a heart. Vidya Balan also puts her best foot forward as a radio jockey who makes Dutt's heart goes hmmm... Dia Mirza and Jimmy Shergill justify their cameo appearances. A surprise element during the climax is a thoughtful addition and cheers the audience, specially the female audience threefold. Though the film is not a sequel to Munna Bhai MBBS, Lage Raho Munna Bhai retains the characters of Munna and Circuit in the lead roles and their nontoxic, almost childlike idiosyncrasies. This idea also gives an unlimited scope for possibilities the hit pair of Munna and Circuit can indulge into in future. Lage Raho Munna Bhai is a story about Murli Prasad Sharma aka Munna who meets Mahatma Gandhi and undergoes a heart transformation. For Munna, breaking bones and abducting people at the snap of his fingers was easier than the courage it required to walk on the path of non-violence and truth. Hesitatingly and unwittingly he takes the road less traveled, which is thorny and full of obstacles in return for self revelation and a guilt-free conscience that fears nothing and no-one. The 'Gandhivad' is turned into 'Gandhigiri' by self proclaimed Professor Murli Prasad Sharma for its practical implementation in the present day, without sounding preachy or heavy-duty. There is a similar 'offering the other cheek' when someone slaps you, confessions of truth and also the 'satyagrah' for a bunch of old people who lose their house called 'Second Innings' to the manipulative and greedy Lucky Singh. Sad but true that our nation won freedom but lost its people, Murli tries to revive faith, courage, truth and justice in people from different walks of life. With his new found ideology or the chemical 'locha' in his brain, he triumphs over the cynics or the lost souls and also wins the love of his life. An interesting observation can be made between Rakeysh Om Prakash Mehra's 'Rang De Basanti' and Rajkumar Hirani's 'Lage Raho Munna Bhai', the fact that though the theme of both films is more or less the same, the approach to resolving the conflict is in complete contrast with each other, like two ends of the same thread. Yet both films succeed in their own unique ways and deliberate the depths of human emotions and reflections in an identical manner. In the end, hats off to Vidhu Vinod Chopra for producing a film that is a wholesome entertainer and succeeds in giving a heartfelt message in the times where films are made merely to fulfill the whims and fancies of egoistic filmmakers.
Reaches No Glorious Heights
The director John Mathew Mathan had gone into oblivion after his directorial debut 'Sarfarosh' that came in 1999. Everybody remembers the film simply because it was a fantastic film. As one watched the socio-political thriller unfold, not even once did the audience remind itself that this was a greenhorn director and perhaps if need be, not to be too harsh on him. So after 5 years when he decided to make Shikhar, it's not an exaggeration to say that the same audience expected the film to be if not more, at-last 5 times more powerful and impact making than Sarfarosh! But to make a film like 'Shikhar', seems nothing but a crude joke on the sensitivities and patience of the people. The memory of Sarfarosh is as fresh in the minds of people as it would have been after ten years, in other words, had Mathan taken even an eternity to bring to his loyal audience a quality film, they would have welcomed it with open arms. But Shikhar
just seems like an execution in Mathan's worst nightmares! There is nothing redeemable about the film, except Shahid Kapoor who has a reflection of youthful Shahrukh Khan when it comes to projecting honesty, passion and dedication. So when you take portions of 'Swades', 'Bas Itna Sa Khwab Hai' and possibly scrapes of 'Guide' or 'Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman' and churn them together, you would have manufactured Shikhar! Not produced, created or even re-created, purely manufactured! The film has not even an iota of pseudo-realism in its theme, plot, characterization and is exceedingly synthetic. The music is uninspiring, dialogues are sloppy and even the premise of the film seems insincere. Story: Shikhar revolves around the issue related to builders, landlords and their tenants who are being pressurized under the superior people of society. How far can greed take a man? Ajay Devgan portrays the character of 'Gaurav Gupta' (GG), who is highly ambitious builder (not to mention-dresses like an MTV star) who wants Guruji (Jawed Sheikh) to evacuate Rishivan-the orphanage to build a magna city called Golden Gate. This shall have multiplexes, golf course, housing, amusement park etc. Guruji actually is an industrial magnate and believes that wealth means nothing if not utilized for the betterment of the society. He wants his wealth to be utilized for the upliftment for the tribal in the area. In the tug-of-war between GG and Guruji, Jaidev Vardhan (Shahid kapur) a fresh graduate and the only son of Guruji, falls in the trap designed by GG and his girlfriend Natasha (Bipasha Basu). Madhavi (Amrita Rao), who genuinely loves Jaidev observes her love being carried away by the world of wealth, wine and women. Will GG succeed in his vicious plans? Will Jaidev discover the fiend behind the mask of friendship GG wears? Wait for the DVD release to find out, this one is definitely not for tarrying away your time at a theater.
Salaam Namaste (2005)
Three cheers for Salaam Namaste!
Indian Cinema has undeniably conquered new frontiers in world cinema with Salaam Namaste. It's freshness is reminiscent of the times when the tested and tried formulae, which were of' course repackaged timelessly in the genre of romantic comedies were consciously thrown out of the window with an innovative and truly 'hatke' Dil Chahta Hai. It's another matter that after brilliant opening, just like the middle order collapsing in the Indian Cricket team, the filmmakers failed to sustain the trend or even ape the story intelligently and only managed to come up with romantic comedies more useless than the other. Salaam Namaste has indeed raised the bar and the credit goes to its brilliant direction by Siddharth Anand, ace production by Yash Raj, almost dreamy photography, fast paced screenplay, sharp dialogues and a plot without much hoopla. Nowhere during the movie do you feel that the film is attempting to imbibe a paradigm that you have been exposed to in Hollywood movies. The subject of a live-in relationship seems a natural part of the story and does not appear as a forceful modus operandi by the filmmaker to draw attention or even ignite a controversy from orthodox groups for cheap publicity. The story of Nick and Amber seems as real as Shahrukh and Rani in Chalte Chalte or as surreal as Amitabh and Rani in Black. The relationship the protagonists share is beautiful and logical. The issue of morality or character seems redundant when you accept the ideology 'to each his own', become a spectator and enjoy life without indulging too much into rights and wrongs. One thing worth mentioning is the lovemaking scenes, which are so unadulterated and non-dramatic that it will run a wave of tingling sensation throughout your body and will hold you in awe of its purity. This is Preity Zinta's most glorious performance of her career and Saif took his character in the story to brilliant heights too. The editing, which is razor sharp in first half of the movie, slightly fumbles in the last fifteen minutes of the climax. Music is melodious and lyrics are fun to hum. The supporting actors including Arshad Warsi and Javed Jaffri also support the film remarkably. Story: Ambar (Preity Zinta) is a radio jockey hosting the show called 'Salaam Namaste' in Melbourne. She hates unpunctuality and is also annoyed by people who get fidgety about their being Indian. Nikhil Arora aka Nick (Saif Ali Khan) who is a chef in an Indian restaurant and also dreams of having his own restaurant rubs Amber the wrong way and starts the war of wits over live radio. The two come face to face at a beach wedding and sparks begin to fly. On coming to know the truth about each other, they want to run as fast as they can from each other in opposite direction but turn around and come to a mutual decision. Ambar moves in with Nick to know if the love is real. They are stark opposite in personalities but cheerfully take deviations and make sweet compromises. Nick gets up in the mornings to fix Ambar hearty breakfasts; Ambar keeps her surroundings clean, amongst other things. Trouble starts when the couple discovers that Ambar is pregnant. What happens to Nick and Ambar? Do they separate and decide that their priorities are different or does the film boast of another happy reunion
does Abhishek Bachchan in special appearance has a card to pull? Watch Salaam Namaste to find out!
Truly A Director's Cut!
Folklore set in Rajasthan in warm and colorful hues of emotions, fancies and temptations; Paheli captures the desires of a newly wed woman who must submit her ripened youth to a ghost and bask in the glory of her womanhood. She steals away 5 years of unbridled moments of love, lust and fulfillment for herself. Paheli is a stream of consciousness, which must follow its natural flow and will not be abruptly bent or change its course towards the end by the director, to satisfy and uphold the moralistic aspirations of the society. More than anyone else, the one who walks away with the top honors for this film is not Shahrukh Khan or Rani Mukerji, but the director Amol Palekar! For long, Amol Palekar has made films, which are made on thin budgets and only see the light of the day in film festivals. Labeled as an 'Art' filmmaker, Amol yet again attempts an arty treatment to the subject, and this time to the advantage, which he gains over mainstream film-making. No filmmaker in the mainstream cinema has ever been able to consummate the subject of falling in love with another man with such palpable simplicity and solution. Amol Palekar, aided with an exceptional Rajasthani folktale in hand- 'Duvidha' an interpretation by Vijaydan Detha, gives a true director's cut in Paheli that is gripping and delightful. In poetry that is simple and touching, Shahrukh explains
to his beloved what he is and why he is, his existence an excuse for clouds to pour, a reason for sun to rise Dialogues are a happy mix of Hindi and Rajasthani that support a powerful narration and screenplay. Magical rain scene on the terrace, conjuring of the gold coins, scene where the ghost directs a playful sea of rose petals to keep his lover from going and the use of ghost puppets as the voice of reason, is enchanting. The location and sets add depth to the story and cinematography captures its novelty in the colors, the director paints on screen. Costumes are elaborate and fit well with each character's get-up and personality. Music by M.M. Kreem portrays the emotional turmoil of the characters, not obstructing the story in any way. With lyrics for films as distant from his personality like Bunty Aur Babli, Gulzar has yet again proved his versatility and creativity in Paheli. Amitabh Bachchan, Anupam Kher and Rajpal Yadav in cameo performances do justice to the characters the writer etched and infuse much animation and excitement to them. The ever-beautiful Juhi Chawla slipped into her role with subtle charm, grace and vitality, although one can't help feel sorry for Suniel Shetty in such an inconsequential role, where not much scope of leaving lasting impressions is present either. Other supporting cast as Shahrukh's kaka and two servants were well placed in the story and delivered good performances. Rani Mukerji is constantly raising the bar for her contemporaries with the complex characters she plays with utmost natural ease.
Shahrukh Khan in a double role is a double powerhouse of throbbing passion and sensitivity, playing his part as a ghost and a man of average vices and virtues with conviction that will continue to haunt you, long after you have walked out of the theater with a smile on your face. Lachhi (Rani Mukerji) is married to Kisan (Shahrukh Khan) who is more interested in giving the accounts of marriage expenditure to his typical baniya father (Anupam Kher). He leaves his trembling, crying and yearning new bride on her nuptial bed to pursue material gains to please his father. A ghost who had briefly witnessed Lachhi's beauty and attracted her in its many magical forms falls in love with her. The estranged bride is feeling hurt and betrayed. She is vulnerable but not naive and makes a conscious decision of taking the ghost as her companion, who assumes the appearance of her husband. What happens when the real Kisan comes back? Does she go back to him or does destiny has other plans for her? Watch Paheli to find out!
Mangal Pandey: The Rising (2005)
Aamir Khan-Last Man Standing
A commendable effort when someone decides to document an important chapter in history and bring forth to patrons of 'cinema of substance' Aamir Khan in and as Mangal Pandey. But the director Ketan Mehta has only managed to scrape the dust off the episode in history, ravaged by time and failed to extract its vibrancy that would emulate the similar desire and passion in those watching it. Neither does the film keeps you on the edge of the seat where you let the warm squall of adrenalin sweep over the thousand thoughts bombarding the mind. Some of them being, why is the film following the same pace from beginning to end or why am I not getting charged? I love my country and I want to do something for my country, like for the record there was a recruit for Kargil war after the young boy fresh from college watched J.P. Dutta's Border. Why is Mangal Pandey not telling me to take some action or even do an honest introspection? Whose fault is it? Certainly, the flaw lies in the insipid direction. In the past, films like Shaheed, Kranti or even Raj Kumar Santoshi's Bhagat Singh have scored better when it comes to audience empathy. Any accosting to the director will have to be half guarded because of the vagaries that are like eye-sores including female characters, which tip from crude to unconvincing, average music and poor screenplay among other things. Films like Lagaan was not a one-man show and bigger than Aamir Khan as the actor. All characters etched out properly, like in the cricket team even when you have your favorites in Sachin Tendulkar, you would also care when Harbhajan throws a googly or when Yuvraj comes in for a fantastic cameo inning. But like Mangal Pandey in history who was passionate and overzealous and took the cause of struggle for freedom on his shoulders, in the film, Aamir Khan the actor consciously or subconsciously projects himself as the last man standing. What Shahrukh couldn't do for Swades, Aamir does for Mangal Pandey. The gamble pays off because the film despite a shaky structure and narrative will be a crowd puller thanks to the long exile of Aamir Khan and his reputation of being the perfectionist and the untouchable, but the truth
the film lacks the soul and an ability to stir any sentiments of patriotism or even connect the audience on an emotional level. The Story-Mangal Pandey (Aamir Khan) is one of the many sepoys of the 5th Company, 34th Native Infantry Regiment, Barrackpore. Loyal to his superiors in the army of British East India Company, Mangal Pandey is the man with exceptional skills and bravery; and has also befriended an officer called William Gordon (Toby Stephens). Toby Stephens performed his part of an officer pulled between his white man's burden and friendship and empathy for Mangal Pandey and his cause, delivers a powerful, credible and sensitive performance. On learning that the new cartridges are greased with animal fat, a widespread resentment breaks amongst Indian soldiers fostering Hindu-Muslim sentiments. Mangal Pandey leads the mutiny and turns it into the first war of independence, becoming the first rebel and first martyr in history. There are two love stories in the film, one between Gordon and Jwala; (Ameesha Patel) a Sati he rescues and the other between Mangal and Heera; (Rani Mukerji) a prostitute. Both Ameesha and Rani played their parts with desired vulnerability and passion. Aamir Khan did justice to his role and as reiterated, indeed is the last man standing in the film.
Funny, but a Microscopic Vision of Albert Brooks
'Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World' provides a stimulating and a ludicrous observation of America's approach towards other cultures, Muslim world to be precise, that has become an acute point of focus and attention especially post 9/11. The writer-director Albert Brooks has a noble and rather innovative idea when he attempts to understand the Muslim population in India and Pakistan better by understanding what makes them laugh! One can't help but speculate if it were not just Brooks as the protagonist who fails in his mission but also the writer-director Brooks who is unable to break the ice when it comes to portraying honesty or realism in his script. Brooks playing himself, overshadows the script so much that he almost fulfills the prophecy of his own character that mouths, "comedians don't like to talk about other comedians!" Perhaps that is the reason why none of the other characters stand out or manage to exhibit their own personal strengths or weaknesses. When Brooks travels to India, the world that the audience sees through Brooks' interactions is monotonous. There is no flavor or variety and only targeted at a class of people that may or may not be literate, knows some English, but on the whole shun comedy or are unmoved by it. Most of them are boorish and uptight, and one is forced to think if it were the conscious decision of the egoistic Comedian to stand against these chalky extras for a purpose- simply to look better or taller in his profession or temperament
Or, when the writer actually wrote these scenes, what was he thinking? Why did he not make his protagonist do more research, talk to more people from different social and economic backgrounds in various professions, or venture into lounges or night clubs or may be pick up a few Indian funny movies with English subtitles to begin with, to at-least know what he is dealing with? Actress Sheetal Sheth plays a very goody-goody urban educated Indian girl character, but a local actress from India perhaps would have been a better option. On the whole, the film would certainly have scored better with audience who will not trade a vegetarian 'alu tikki' (potato patty) burger for a vegetarian 'soy patty' burger! Why watch the film? It's really funny, in parts though, great dialogues, pompous story idea, nostalgic sights of Chandni Chowk, Connaught Place and Taj Mahal-Agra and yes, Albert Brooks and his quirkiness is a treat to watch. Story: Comedian Albert Brooks, who is looking for a decent gig and doesn't have much options on his side, gets summoned by politician/actor Fred Dalton Thompson to come to Washington D.C. to help in a new diplomatic effort. Brooks has to spend a month in India and Pakistan, write a 500 page report, and tell the U.S. government what makes over 300 million Muslims in the region laugh. While Brooks isn't sure he's the man for the job, the possibility of a Medal of Freedom proves irresistible and he accepts. With the aid of two government agents, Stuart (John Carrol Lynch), Mark (Jon Tenney), and a lovely assistant, Maya (Sheetal Sheth), Brooks starts the interviewing process, as soon as he lands in India, asking everyone, "What makes you laugh?" Since people aren't as forthcoming as he would like, and when he discovers there are no comedy clubs in India or Pakistan that would help him observe, he decides to put on The Big Show, the first comedy concert in New Delhi. He figures by what the audience laugh at, he'll get what he needs for his important government assignment. He figured wrong. Undaunted, Brooks continues his quest, doing everything from a clandestine meeting with a group of Pakistani comedians, to a business meeting with Al Jazeera, all in the hopes of achieving his goal.
The Warrior (2001)
Blending Realism with the classic tale of Morality
Inspired by a Chinese fable as the writer-director Asif Kapadia admitted, the film progresses through rich imagery and metaphors suggestive of the human mind scape that is put through the test of tolerance, resolve and will. And just as a dull mind or an infant mind must go through a stream of experiences that must rip open the layers of dreary or steady existence, similarly it was essential for the story teller to envelope the snow-capped terrain of earth which must be climbed by a traveler who has sweat for the reasons he never challenged before, burnt his skin and bled too, both in his body and soul. There is almost a ghost-like resemblance with King Ashoka who goes through a change of heart and denounces blood- shed and war after the famous battle of Kalinga. One can't help notice similarity between the warrior hero and the character from Indian mythology Shravan who carries his blind parents. Even after initiating these referral points in his journey, the warrior-hero does not follow his crusade to the end, thus proving that he is not a superhuman, neither has any inclination to accept the role of Job from Christianity. He belongs to this era, where a man when pushed to his limit will break, or more appropriately, react. But the warrior-hero is not here to prove any fallacies or be put on a pedestal by those who look upon him as the one with a spine. He must take his own course, take responsibility for his actions and be the heir to the destiny misbegotten when he opens the gates of hell to please his tyrannical lord. It is the rule of the jungle that as soon as your shield is dropped by trick or by your own accord, the tyrants who live for nothing else, will attack you. Referring to the mythology again, in Mahabharata, Karan, who came into the world out of benediction of Sun God, was born with a shield, which no human sword could pierce. Tricked into removing it and offering it to the enemy in disguise, Karan didn't give up his other weapons, mainly his resolve, mental strength and pledge. Once again, coming back to our warrior-hero, who tends upon the path covered with thorns that shall pierce his bare feet and also make his soul bleed, he assumes the emotions of a human being contrasted with that of a warrior that almost led an animal like base existence. Through his transformation from a warrior to a human being, he realizes the simple pleasures of love, caring and life itself. The warrior-hero also gains the redemption pact when he chooses not to whet the appetite of his bloodthirsty sword. But the deal is only struck when his son must lose his life and pay for his father's deeds. The film is about Lafcadia (Irfan Khan) who lives in a violent world, but on his journey he seeks the strength to turn his life around to become a much better person and, in a sense, a better father. The film is gripping until last half an hour, where it begins to drag. What is unique about this film is that with least dialogues or any verbal communication, the characters succeed in portraying pain and turmoil the writer chose for them. Irfan Khan is one of the superlative actors of the Indian film industry today, who uses his body and expressions most effectively and adds a new dimension to his character. Here too, Irfan puts his best foot forward in this realistic war saga woven with the morality tale in a film made by a visionary director from UK. Kapadia found a true street urchin who had been living on a train station platform since the age of 7 Noor Mani, who reminds Lafcadia of his son in the film. He plays his part to the perfection and not even once gave an impression that he is acting. Damyanti Marfatia also played her real life handicap of blindness in the movie infusing some heart wrenching emotions with her realistic portrayal.
The Story: Irfan Khan stars as Lafcadia, a skilled and deadly Rajput warrior, who works at the behest of a brutal local warlord (Anupam Shyam) who regularly sends Lafacadia to carry out such savage punishments as be-headings and pillaging raids of entire villages. Then one day, Lafcadia decides to go straight. In the middle of a massacre, a mystical encounter with a young girl brings about a moment of transformation in which the warrior drops his sword and vows never to kill again. Gathering his only son Katiba (Puru Chhibber), Lafcadia hits the road and heads for his native mountain village. But the warlord who controls Lafcadia will not let his warrior go. The warlord soon dispatches a second warrior, the ruthless Biswas (Aino Annuddin), to hunt down Lafcadia and bring back his head. Still Lafcadia will not be deterred. Challenging the strict codes of the warrior life, he will sacrifice more than he could imagine in his quest for a peaceful existence.