Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Review of 'Tanu weds Manu'

‘Tanu weds Manu’ marks the resurgence of smaller production houses. The film also, akin to 7KM, a film essentially around the central character of a woman played by Kangana Ranaut. I am greatly pleased to see the small town hogging the centre stage in many of recent films, most of which have done well. This in essence marks the resurgence of the middle India in the collective psyche and the growing self-confidence in all of us to accept who we essentially are.
Without digressing any further and revealing no plot here, the film is about how the leading lady, who is facetious with the idea of love and sex and carries no baggage of middle class morality, gets embroiled in a two way love. The denouement of the plot is the reasonably gripping resolution of the triangle in the end.
The movie is set in tier III India and moves from one small town in UP to another in Punjab. Refreshingly, there's no superficial gloss of typical bollywood while portraying middle class households and the mood is conveyed without embarrassing the audience with any overdone scene. While the character of eastern Uttar Pradesh has been toned down and Punjab has been only barely touched, the canvas on which the film is played is detailed. The editing is slick and movie in the first half is fast paced.
The film as several critiques have pointed out, does give one a sense of deja-vu with some of the recent bollywood films. But the way the smaller roles in the film have been played salvage the film and keep it floating. It’s worth a watch.

Review of 'Ong Bak 3'

The film is releasing today and the viewer should be prepared to expect the unexpected. I watched the DVD version last year and the film could be summarised in four words- Anachronistic, Bemusing, Convoluted and Disjointed. I was emotionally let down by this trash in form of his disasterous third edition from Tony Jaa. While the first one had prosaic production values, it charmed the viewer with the sheer novelty of the fight sequences and stunts along with the underdog storyline. The second edition buttressed the production values a little bit and maintained the fantastic fights with the best fight sequence i have ever seen during the finale. The third edition of Ong Bak almost damages the reputation of this franchise. I hope we do get to see Ong Bak 4 as a redemption for Tony Jaa and entertainment at it's vintage best for the viewer.

Review of 'Dil toh Bachcha hai ji'

We all know that Madhur Bhandarkar is a creative genius when it comes to exposing the underbelly of urban society with deft display of irony with a dash of sly humour, which has come to become his trademark over the years. What we didn’t know is that he had the capability to extend himself to the comedy genre.

‘Dil to bachha hai ji’ is a departure from the mindless comedy that has become the USP of most bollywood directors. While it does remain a comedy, it does not ask you to leave your thinking cap at home. The film explores the range of man-woman relationships that mark modern urban existence and presents them in this film with three relatively extreme cases in point.

The film meanders along with the three concomitant stories and tries to relate them with the one word; love, and a common house. There are plenty of risqué and humorous moments along the way, many of which appear natural and hence make it a sit-com rather than a slapstick affair.

Marked by good performances by most of the actors, supported by crisp writing and barring the one odd inconsistency, the film appears credible and well worth the money. The even distribution of screen time between the actors and the one odd hummable tune keep up the tempo and make it a funny film. 3.5 STARS

Review of 'Dhobi Ghat'

Having read the mixed bag of reviews of this film, I had decided to give it a miss. But Aamir had ensured that no other big releases affected chances of his better half's magnum opus and hence I had to grudgingly make it to watch this one.

Right from the outset as the credits rolled in, the movie painted itself with a poignant palette creating a fresh fresco. The parallel stories began scene after scene to stitch themselves in a telling manner as the film progressed. The characters while could have been etched better, still grow on you and soon one is absorbed in the film enough to overlook the shortfalls and be consumed by the brilliance of their screen presence.

Calling the movie subtle would be stating the obvious. The film is another in the numerous odes that the city of Mumbai has received. However, the film does that without being loud or overly partisan in its portrayal of the grime and grit of the metropolis. Technically flawless, the film plays itself out like a slow and painful melody that just manages to touch your heart. For me, it's a 4 STAR effort.

Review of '127 Hours'

Reputation clearly seems to have preceded Danny Boyle at the Oscars with his ‘127 hours’ receiving four* nominations including the best actor. The film about a real life adventurer’s survival tale has been suitably humanised to avoid making it another episode of ‘Man vs Wild’.

Reality Tv and Adventure channels where the situation, however untamed, is often controlled and hence gives one the comforting knowledge that all is going to be well. The film is a departure from the stage-managed precision of these TV shows. It gets into the head of the penitent adventurer when he battles weather, fatigue and reflects upon his life’s follies as a gloomy end stares back at him from the craggy creeks.

The first half of the film gets where it is aimed at; giving the viewer the creeps, but the second half has moments of humour that are protracted a wee bit and hence let the audience heave a sigh of relief, something that has the unintended effect of driving them back into the comfort of their seats. The gory ending might be discomforting to some. The music by AR Rahman is largely on mark but some of the scenes would have been better off without music to make the setting chillingly real. Over all an outdoor adventure, that keeps the adrenalin pumping. 4.0 STARS

The Ailing Male- A tribute to brave parents

Hale and hearty he is born
the title of heir he does adorn
the Indian male is a prince at berth
his gender decides his perceived worth

Fed well and tended by one and all
A deluge of nannies at his every call
He’s the apple of everyone's eye
and so he remains till the day he dies

Fortunes set aside, to succour him in need
treated like a darling even if he's a weed
Getting undue credit for his every pull
He’s the glass that’s always half-full

The breadwinner according to social norms
the shape of family, on him it forms
Domestic life soon plays before him
the social vortex repeats the story grim

Having a baby-girl here comes at a price
and hence for a Boy, he goes for the vice
Sucked into the circle where he got his life
for a male heir, he commits a foeticide

Another male, hale and hearty is born
Slow and steady, the social fabric is torn
His inequity with this oft repeated tale
I prefer to call him the 'ailing male'

©amit Khanduri

Antithesis – The two cities

Our neat city is dotted by eyesores
Slums adjacent to the golf course
With dust covering their every pore
they come hankering to every door

The rag picker, cleaner and the mason
The hoards of urchins at the station
Systematically killing this global centre
every day in thousands this city they enter

Wish we could clean up this mess
this city would do better with some people less
Root of all crimes, they symbolise pettiness
Behaving just the way they tend to dress

Save your rupee, not for me
for I work for the smallest fee
Dust on my face and my hands muddy
I live in the hutment by the scree

My wage is only worth your new bag
your new suit can buy me several rags
yet I see you haggle even for the national flag
while spending a fortune for a shag?

I am ashamed to see you denounce
the ragpicker when he cheats you an ounce
your morality to him you announce
and preach him the honesty that counts?

Country rat or the randy savage
working here for a pittance wage
Cloistered in his dirty cage
Shouldn’t his life turn a new page?

He deserves a timely raise
and needs to overcome this phase
Earn in his country his rightful place
before this jury thus, I put-up his case

in his own country yet is in alien lands
building the city with his bare hands
Away from home, he trundles on
awaiting a new life and a new dawn

Review of '7 Khoon Maaf'

Vishal Bhardwaj has for sure made a mark in the mind of the average movie goer with his unique cinematic brilliance. His works are all pieces of art and he is in a way a national treasure. The latest offering from his coveted stable is a screen adaptation of Ruskin Bond’s book, Sussana’s seven husbands. The film turns out to be another unputdownable offering.

Ruskin Bond, a Briton and an indophile has won our hearts with his unique perspective and storytelling ability but all that remains of him in my mind is faint memory of the telling effect his stories used to have when I was a child. Adapting a book from almost half a century ago to fit to contemporary times will inevitably call for some creative liberties to avoid becoming an anachronism.

7 Khoon Maaf, as promos clearly reveal, is a story about a woman and her seven husbands and how she gets rid of them. The levity in the story ends just there- in the title. The film is a portrayal of the excesses a woman, Sussana, faces from her several husbands in her adult life- a period spanning almost three decades. The film is in more ways than one is Priyanka Chopra’s apotheosis as an actor. She does live up to her credo and delivers a power packed performance. The story is dark predominantly and unhurried at places, which often gets disconcerting and towards the end one almost wishes it ended sooner as it merely becomes a case of proving a point. It wouldn’t have made a difference if it were ‘4 Khoon Maaf’. This is essentially the film’s undoing, wherein the end becomes inconsequential.

The film is a technical masterpiece. The director gets the historical facts and feel of the period bang on. The characters are several and the director does complete justice to all of them. It is sheer delight to watch the Hunky John turn into a famished drug junkie. The paradox in the personalities of Irrfan khan and Nassuridin Shah send a chuckle or two before they turn painful. Niel Nitin Mukesh as Army officer does well and the polyglot Russian spy is cast perfectly.

In essence, the film is a display of cinematic brilliance that Indian directors are capable of. The film while perfect on technical counts does get tedious and hence remains a work of art. And no one says art is always entertaining. The film shall not leave my memory for a long time and shall set new bench marks in technical departments of cinema making. Worth a watch for its production qualities.

Review of 'Phas Gaye re Obama'

PGRO is well written, well executed, intelligent comedy. It is a light hearted take on Underworld and 'business' of extortion rife in rural Hindi heartland. The composition makes for an intelligent comedy by bringing an NRI into the equation thus making the multiplex audience relate to the plot as well. The characters are consistent and variegated thus making it a wholesome ploy. The gamut of characters range from a illiterate thug to the state ministry. They are well etched and backed by good research. The film cleverly avoids showing gory scenes while retaining the local lingo and thus lending credence to the plot. The comedy is situational rather than slapstick. It's a pleasant departure from the glossy slapstick fare that is served with unwelcome regularity by the industry. Over all, a good film. 4 STAR