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Omkara (2006)
23 out of 26 people found the following review useful:
Can Raw be Gorgeous ?...its Omkara !, 1 August 2006

Can Raw be Gorgeous ? Well here we have for that one rare spectacular treat. Vishal Bhardwaj visualizes and presents a mesmeric manifestation out of rustic, rural, and wild backdrop. Omkara is an adaptation from Othello, one of the four great tragedies written by Shakespeare that includes Hamlet, King Lear, and Macbeth. Vishal has made all possible efforts to recreate the magic of the powerful script and he has succeeded to a great extent. However he has changed background from one that at royals in Europe to pastoral countryside in western Uttar Pradesh. The movie has an extravagant treatment and every aspect from costumes to sets and dialect to music has been designed to near exactness. The beginning takes you straight into the heartland of India where politics and power equations are bread and butter of the inhabitants. The color of muscle-power, sex, and jealously makes perfect ingredients for a Bollywood potboiler. It surely have been a laudable effort by the filmmaker after depicting his genius with Maqbool in 2003 (another adaptation from Shakespeare's Macbeth).

Omkara stays true to its spirit, (the original word is a spiritual vibration from Sanskrit) it's an impersonal and formless representation of the absolute truth. Ajay Devgan playing the lead gives the right tone and shade to the character. His intense expressive eyes and deep throat say it all. It is indeed a quantum leap over his last negative portrayal in Ram Gopal Verma's "Company". He stays in focus from the first action sequence and the title song gives him a fitting introduction on the canvas. The whole drama revolves around his emotions and his weaknesses. His love interest in the film is played by Kareena Kapoor and to say the least she has been a complete revelation to watch. She looks stunning and emotes with ease in some very delicate parts of the show. Vivek Oberoi tries his hand again on some quality stuff after a string of flops recently but unfortunately he is one of the rare weak parts of this plot. He looked very vulnerable and the character never gave him an opportunity to come to the forefront. Konkona Sen Sharma is always full of surprises and her versatility is her strength. The variety of roles she does will be envy for any actor. She plays with simple elegance for a common house villager and without a doubt impresses one and all. Another high was from Bipasha Basu, playing a sultry siren and absolutely ignites the screen with couple of dance numbers. Apart from illustrating her well toned figure there was not much of performance meat in her presence. However the most sumptuous role was bagged by none other than brilliant Saif Ali Khan. He is the fulcrum for the whole movie and he is one who raises the bar of quality for many others around him. One could essentially feel the frustration and resentment in Saif's depiction. The way he hatches the plot and then makes his wicked moves one by one develops the much needed interest for the viewer. He is very slow to start with by staying in shadows of Devgan but then came the string of frames where he outclassed the former.

Omkara should well be appreciated for its technical brilliance. With bulk of shooting at Wai and Lonavala in Maharashtra, it would have been a real big challenge to structure an authentic North Indian village. The cinematography was sheer pleasure and many shots were so aesthetic that it felt like watching mesmeric work of art in motion. The frames were large and the theme of boisterous merrymaking was captured with meticulous vividness. The script is just right and director do not waste any reels on explaining irrelevant details. Though large hearted shower of local offensive words can get jarring for some audience. Music did not have much to do in this tight screenplay and the director could have done better without couple of songs. Although "Jag Ja Ri Gudia" composition sung by Suresh Wadkar is a pure melody and the veteran made his presence felt in crop of new singers. The song has special relevance with the storyline and thus goes along well.

All accolades to the director for feasting us on an outstanding cinema. He is a showcase of the new genre of Indian film makers and he has all his fundamentals in the right place. The movie leaves us with heavy thoughts and a lot to ponder in the end. It could have been very easy for anyone to go awry with such a radiant cast line but Vishal not only develops the individual characters skillfully but also creates the magic of making Raw look Gorgeous…

Fanaa (2006)
3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Fanna …..Sadly not for you !, 30 May 2006

Remember disastrous Fiza by talented Khalid Mohamed and Hrithik Roshan, followed by Mission Kashmir of Vidhu Vinod Chopra. It seems like filmmakers are allured by the theory of an innocent Kashmiri militant and they never seem to get enough of it. Well, that was some six odd years ago and now once again Kunal Kohli tries to present the concept with bit more of melodrama. There have been more than one set of similarities between all these films, lack of concrete script, some fantastic cinematography, slow paced screenplay, strong female character portrayal ( be it Karisma in Fiza, Pretty in Mission Kashmir, and mesmeric Kajol in Fanaa ), and of course the dud endings leaving viewers bewildered.

Fanna has definitely been an attempt by the director to do something different, however I would suggest him to better stick to his foray of chocolaty films (his last was Hum Tum with Saif and Rani Mukherjee). In the nutshell, it has been a big let down to all the viewers who have been rather waiting for the movie very eagerly.

Fanaa meaning 'destroyed in love', was planned to embody the dark side of a love story in a patriotic flavor. The movie begins with the scenic New Delhi and all its historical architectures. The story grows at a painfully slow rate and thus loosening its grip in the first half itself, though there were hints of some revival towards the beginning of second half but nothing seemed to have helped the lousy screenplay. Even the poetry dialogs sprinkled wholeheartedly across the script are very jaded and sounds dated. Talking about performances, Kirron Kher seems to have perfected the art of motherhood in Bollywood after legendary Nirupa Roy, she is good in her short appearance. Rishi Kapoor still maintains those cute looks but he didn't have any major chunk to perform. The fulcrum of the film was always on Aamir and he never seems to disappoint his fans. He always gives a new dimension to any character he plays and Rehan Qadri in Fanaa is absolutely to watch out for his expressions and presentation. However the character never blossomed on screen, it looked much curtailed both in romantic and then in ruthless militant look. I still wonder at the choice of this script by the versatile actor. Tabu also jumps in with a small cameo but she looked far away from whole thing. She could hardly relate to the passion and the temperament of an intelligence officer.

Finally, all is not lost in Fanaa, the character that really looms large over the whole show is Zooni Ali Beg, portrayed to near perfection by none other than Kajol. She has everything going for her way as she looks really enticing and powerful from within. This could have been a perfect comeback movie for the actress only if the treatment would have been little better but nonetheless she has captivated the viewer's imagination with those big expressive eyes and graceful looks. She maintains the dignity of the character and even commands attention with her screen presence.

The cinematography is another delight in the dismal depiction. The picturesque locales of Poland (shown as Kashmir) are a treat to watch and would sooth few eyes in scorching Indian summer. Also the song 'Dekho Na' is sure to hang around for sometime for visuals and background score, it shows that Sonu Nigam has well graduated to a classical vocalist and he is doing all legendary singers proud. Then comes the music and Jatin-Lalit are no Rehman, they tried to work on similar lines but without much of gain. Sufi music requires a whole lot more of depth with lyrical value and it is disappointing to say the least. The songs lack the punch and repeat value in any way. They are highly situational but still fail to bind along. To add to the latest trend of remixed fast paced songs there is one by DJ Aqeel called "Fanaa for You…" which has been added more for a necessity than for a requirement. To complement all, the climax has been rushed up with a frantic build up and it leaves so many tattered ends to the film.

All I can say is that its mere destruction and this Fanaa is not for you…

159 out of 193 people found the following review useful:
Celebrate your Freedom ..., 26 January 2006

Paint It Yellow…. Oops….that's suppose to be Rang De Basanti….. Well that's exactly the director tries to convey. Its about today, us and our present, yet the similarities we have from the Pre-independence era. The Gen-x who knows Mac-D but still prefers the Dhaba Paranthas with sweet Lassi. However they restrict their national values only to food and nothing more. Its not a run of the mill stuff with 6 six romantic songs, couple of foreign locales and then finally some emotional drama….. No no no….. Rang De…is a Cult movie. It is more of an introspection, a food for our thought process. It makes us think, as to how should we actually celebrate our freedom. I was really moved by some of the ending lines by the narrator, "I thought there are 2 types of people in the world, one who die crying and other who move away in silence but today I learned there is third genre, people who go laughing". That says it all…

Rang De… is definitely a very brave and innovative attempt by the director and for that matter he has selected a near perfect cast. However veterans like Om Puri and Anupam Kher looked disposed. All the characters grow gradually in the film and make you think their way. Everyone is given enough space to justify their talent. Rakesh Omprakash Mehra is a director of the new emerging Indian cinema, he always tries to bring in something very different. I was really impressed by his last attempt in 2001 for Aks (Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpai ), and he definitely has succeeded in making another fabulous master piece. The highlight of the movie is the great use of cinematography techniques. Its probably for the first time in Indian cinema that juxtaposing has been used with such a great effect. The way each character gradually immerses into scenes from the past leaves you fantasizing about the hard work that has gone in the background to create this, both technically and on the part of the actor.

The movie starts on a very high spirit reflecting today's youth mindset who believe that patriotism is something that looks good in history chapters and today's world is far ahead of all that, they would prefer to go boozing and dancing rather than thinking on any of those lines. The way the campus scenes are shown really makes everyone go down the memory lanes of beautiful college days. This is followed by some intriguing drama and events which turns the life of a group of buddies upside-down altogether.

The film grows on you gradually. The director has made sure that there is a clear message in everything he presents, even the group of boys represents different sects of society and religion. Hence creating an appeal for everyone watching it. Music is another high point of the show, its foot tapping and very much with the mood of the subject. The songs give you a sense of freedom from within, a freedom to think in one's own way. A.R. Rehman doesn't need any introductions and he is surely one of the most original music directors we have in the country.

The brilliance of Aamir Khan is something very difficult to narrate, he has proved it umpteen number of times that he is truly the most versatile actor in the industry. His comic timing in the first part is better than anything seen in recent past. He is extremely fluent even with difficult Punjabi tongue twisters and the acting prowess he has shown would be very difficult to match by anyone around. He appears so natural and his complete look with new hairstyle (which is now part of his every new movie) gives a very striking combination.

Well the most wanting part of the whole thing has been the script to certain extent, it appears very loose in the second half and at times gives a droning feel. Few new ideas presented by the author looked half-baked. However it has been the technical expertise of the director who managed to save the things with some outstanding camera work and editing.

Rang De … is for sure a must watch movie, it doesn't have any preaching but still it will force you to think once. As they say it "There are two primary choices in life, to accept conditions as they exist or take upon the responsibility to change them". I believe most of us want to bring about the changes without doing anything, so its time to think again folks and take some responsibility, lets Paint It Yellow …

7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
15 Park Avenue : A Search within ..., 10 January 2006

15 Park Avenue, well the name mystifies initially being an address from New York and film being set in Kolkata. However as the story unfolds, one realize the thin line that director tries to walk between Relationships, Social Cause and of course the world of Schizophrenia. I would say Aparna Sen is one director who has so much more to say and has so less time at disposal. Well no doubt she has managed to make a good movie. In a way she makes us realize that probably each one of us is looking for our own '15 Park Avenue'. Its an unending search within each of one of us...

The powerhouse performance from Shabana Azmi is a treat to watch. Her screen presence brings whole lot of life into the scene. Indeed it was surprising to see her in such a powerful act after long because I expected it to be all the way Konkona Sen's terrain. Shabana makes you feel skin deep of an elder sister who is running the whole show for a rather unfortunate family and during this time she almost forgets to live her own life. She burdens all her ambitions and desires with ailing 18 year younger sister ( who is more like a daughter to her ) and an aging mother played by veteran Waheeda Rehman. As for the leading actress from Guide ( that's how I can recall her instantly ) there is hardly anything to say except few lines and tear drops here and there. Ever dependable Rahul Bose plays another pivotal role in the film, he shows the emotions of a middle age man with repent on his face to near perfection. This man really amazes me with the variety of work he has done. From a musician in Jhankar Beats to a liberal Muslim in Mr. & Mrs. Iyer and so many others…. He is one versatile I really wish if he had some more shots in the first part of the movie as well. The cameo in the movie is by Shefali Shah (remember Satya and Monsoon Wedding). She looks really beautiful and depicts the role of a mother of 2 kids with real ease. She gives you a glimpse of today's Indian woman who is modern in approach but still conventional when it comes to her husband's prior relationships.

The focus of camera has been Meethi, portrayed by Konkona. She and her schizophrenic world constitute the nucleus of 15 Park Avenue. She has really worked hard for the character but there are times when she is not able to relate with the audience. The fateful accident of her life tries to rope in sympathy and it has been only partially successful.

The movie tries to address quite a few things in one go starting from the unique world of a disabled person to the unequal status of a female even in today's modern India and also the twisted relationships in a tattered family. And I believe Aparna has succeeded to certain extent. The helplessness of Meethi while she works as a journalist in a rural eastern state really gives us all a naked picture of the country we are so proud of.

Well after I finished 15 Park Avenue, there was a sense of unquenched thirst within me. I wanted more out of this movie to drench me emotionally. It has been a commendable effort on the part of director except few hiccups. Must watch for all those who like to see a different cinema, something with a strong purpose.