Category Archives: Movie Review

HAIDER :CINEMATIC CHUTZPAH

Chutzpah(noun):-  the quality of audacity , for either good or bad

The word chutzpah has a very special place in this movie. It gets mentioned atleast a couple of times . The word is explained with examples and it is pointed out that ,ironically , it rhymes with AFSPA. And no , it is not a good word in the movie. It represents all that was wrong with Kashmir and the milieu that the characters found themselves peopling.

But , of course , there is another kind of Chutzpah. The good kind. The kind that only a few can exhibit.  It is the word that you use ,when you find that words like brilliance  and élan just don’t cut it. When you see an undertaking that is as audacious in conception as it is brilliant in execution.  When you know the near impossibility of what is being attempted and you see that not only has the impossible become real but that it is alive. The kind of word you would use for this movie.

Undertaking  to retell Shakespeare’s most popular tragedy is audacious in itself. To retell it in the way that this movie has done  is exhibiting chutzpah.

Shakespeare’s most existential hero finds expression in what is perhaps independent India’s most existential milieu – Kashmir. “To be or not be” takes on a different meaning altogether in the slogan “Hum hai ki nahin hain”.   In many ways , Kashmir becomes the real Hamlet , with existential dilemmas worthy of the tragic hero.  Caught between India and Pakistan , between AFSPA and militancy from across the border – the voice of it’s people muted , their protests relegated to the background – Kashmir embodies the dilemma of the tragic hero very well and  “Hum hai ki nahin hain” is indeed apt.

In contrast , the supposed Hamlet , Haider exhibits very few dilemmas. “To be or not to be” is not a question for him. He decides to be. To search for his “disappeared” father. He does exhibit a glimmer of doubt every now and then about the guilt of his uncle , but by and large he is  a man of conviction.

Haider has been extremely ably and poignantly played by Shahid Kapoor.  Brooding most of the time  and  breaking into almost violent emotional outbursts when called for. The character’s love for his father  and  his despising for his uncle have both been brought to life very well. But what stands out is the character’s relationship with his mother. The hatred combined with a vaguely incestuous longing have been portrayed brilliantly by Shahid Kapoor. Truly , a gem of a performance.

Tabu , as Gertrude . excels. Neglected by her husband , falling for her brother in law , worrying sick  for her son’s welfare – the character has many facets and it is , indeed a very complicated character. And perhaps , in lesser hands , the portrayal would have floundered. It is only a fine actor like Tabu ,who could have done justice to the role. And she has. And without doubt , she is the best of the lot in the movie.

Kay Kay , as Caludius is adequate. He is shifty . He is selfish . But he also loves Tabu. While , not a standout performance , he makes the cut. All the other characters deliver too , giving what is expected out of them.

The director has mostly stayed true to the plot of the original play. And while doing so has managed to weave together a story of his own ,which has a meaning far beyond the original tragedy. A superb and brilliant retelling. Chutzpah indeed!!!!

ONE ARTY FARTY GUZAARISH

Before I start commenting on the movie at all , indulge me and allow me an aside. This has been gnawing at me , from like 5 minutes into the movie , and I don’t know how important it is in the overall scheme of things , but I need to get it out.  So here goes. This entire film looked as if – and I am talking about the actual visual effect here , there are no other metaphorical underpinnings J – it was shot through a tinted glass. There seems to be an everpresent darkness , that just seems to refuse to leave the sets. Let me not use the word gloom here , as it wont be literal , and I promised no metaphors.  It was as though the entire movie was filmed , after the sets were covered in a huge shroud and the lights were dimmed. Even what were supposed to be real bright , sunny and cheerful days , seemed to have been darkened a little. For instance , the scene where Hrithik Roshan and the others are driving down to the courthouse , and then there is ofcourse the clichéd breeze and the even more clichéd children playing in the fields , that I thought was your usual clichéd bright and sunny morning. But , even that was darkened a little , so that one could not really see the brightness for what it really was.

Now , I don’t get it. May be I am not good with the metaphorical stuff , like what the genius of a director is trying to tell us , like the darkness is indicative of the gloom that is integral to the life of the character that Hrithik Roshan tried so hard to portray in the movie. Yeah , am not good with directorial touches like this one. But I still don’t get it. And what’s with the sets ? And the characters that seem to people these sets? Where exactly do they live? Which era are they from ? And the décor ? SLB (short for Sanjya Leela Bhansali) , somehow always tries very hard ,to transport us into a parallel universe , where we are left  gasping and trying to get our bearings .And after a while , we give up , because we understand there is no use , and the parallel universe , whatever it lacks in , does not lack in grandiosity and a certain magnificent bleakness. So it is with this movie . The sets are huge . The sets are gloomy. The sets are unreal. The sets are magnificent. And the sets are pointless. And after a point the sets come in the way , of making the characters real and relatable. And once you get bored of gawking at the sets and try to look around at the characters that people them , and the story that threads these characters together , you unfortunately have very little to go on. Imagine a magnificent castle with absolutely no history . Once you are done gawking at it , what do you do? And perhaps that’s the whole problem with the movie.

Once you move on from the sets , you realize that the sets were the only thing the director was sure about. The rest seems to be a confused tangle. The director wants to tell us something , but you are not sure what. Is it about magicians and their trade? Well , there are asides to it , but no its not completely about that. Is it about quadriplegics and their plight and their struggle , their hope and its loss? Well , then again , there are asides but not quite that too. Is it about Euthanasia , and a social commentary on it. ? Well , it was handled too trivially , to qualify as that too. Is it about the dedication and love of the nurse to this patient , or that of friend to a friend , or that of a doctor to such a patient? Well then again , not quite. It looks as if , SLB tried everything , was not sure what to do , and brought all of these samples together. And , somewhere , after two thirds of the film is over , the director doesn’t know what to do , and these samples get revisited , one by one. The director’s inability to get the story going is almost palpable here , and I think this where I fell asleep for a full five minutes. When I woke up , to my horror , I realized I hadn’t missed much.

Unfortunately , such trivial handling , makes none of the things touched upon in the movie , relatable. You don’t feel for the character that is Roshan , you don’t share his frustration , you don’t find yourself riled this way or that about mercy killing , your heart doesn’t go out for the dedication of the nurse , nor do you get to admire the magician’s trade. You are just left empty and bored . In the end ,  if anyone needs mercy killing , it is the audience . The movie becomes an unspeakable and never ending ordeal.

Howz this for  trivial handling.- The Roshan chap , tries to get support for his mercy killing , through his radio station. All he gets are negative responses. There is one TV show , where Prahlad Kakkar , , seems to be the only person supporting it . And that’s when the lawyer decides it’s time to move the court again!!!! And suddenly , there is a welter of support for the Roshan chap. How did this turnaround happen ? We are not told. Also , why did mother die all of a sudden? If not for that protracted scene , of the raindrops , which is ofcourse SLB’s way of showing us the plight of the Roshan chap. Too convenient eh?

The performances are equally forgettable. To Roshan’s credit , he seems to have tried. He does have a unhealthy look about him. It does seem as though , he did put in some work , however little in preparation for this character. Apart from that , that perhaps , is the best thing that can be said about him. He tried. And by the way , am not sure , if quadriplegics , talk wheezily , so I will let it go at that.

Aishwarya Rai , well , she never tries. She is as plastic as she always was , and will always remain. She cant act .Luckily for her , no director seems to have caught on to that fact yet. Her every movement , every gesture , every dialogue delivery is affected and fake. So she has stayed completely true to form in this movie. And the lesser said about her attire and makeup the better.

There is ofcourse this other guy , whose name I don’t know. He comes to learn magic from the Roshan chap.  He tries to act all cheerful and breezy and sunny . He is supposed to be the comic relief. He ends up being very irritating.

Lets not even talk about the other characters.

I guess , this is what happens , when the director’s expertise lies not in the art of telling a story , but in erecting huge , pointless sets and when pretensions replace real story telling.

1.5/5

 

 

THE TERRIBLE STRANGERS

Anjaana …Anjaani  is a movie about two people , Ranbir Kapoor and Priyanka Chopra  and their endless attempts at killing themselves off. When they fail to succeed in these attempts , they get bored and decide to fall in love. Ofcourse, Priyanka does not realize it till the end -that she is in love -and needs a host of cinematic cliches thrown at her face , including a supportive ex-boyfriend , who of course , according to the prevalent rules of Cinema , takes it surprisingly well. There are also the ever present small coincidences , that remind her of Ranbir Kapoor . Then only does she realize the strength of her passion.  Ranbir Kapoor proposes in the end, needless to say , Priyanka agrees. Also , the scene is set in apparently freezing water, which somehow is supposed to be funny . I cant remember how,though.

Ever watched a movie , that starts out interesting and seems to have some potential? And then have you watched in dismay , as slowly the movie deteriorates to the point , where it is just a puddle of  shameless cliches from  many movies past? And also have you watched , two perfectly good looking and talented actors , who seem to occupy almost 95% of the screen time , wasted away? It is quite sad , I must say. And  if you want to witness it , go watch this movie. Because thats what this movie is , a waste – a waste of talent , and a waste of what perhaps could have been developed into an interesting story.    To make it worse , given the deterioration mentioned earlier , the movie comes off as pretentious.

Ranbir Kapoor is a ..well ..enterprenuer , in the film. It is not clear what he does , except that it has got something to do with the stock market. He is supposedly aggressive , too aggressive for his own good. He mouths stuff like “Higher share price means more profit” and “Us company ko khareed lete hain”.  Having established his business credentials thus , he proceeds to take a business loan from a bank. The stock market crashes , and he promptly decides to die. It is not exactly clear why , because , his other partners , do not seem to be doing the same thing. Anyways , he decides to jump off a bridge , and that is where he meets a much drunk Priyanka Chopra.  Apparently she also wants to die , andfor some inexplicable reason ,  she keeps distracting Ranbir , as he tries to jump off the bridge. They fail in the attempt , and land up at the hospital.

They , then escape from the hospital , go to Priyanka’s home , and try to die again. They , fail again, because , otherwise , it would have been a very short movie. That is when , they decide , that they would try again after 20 days , because , apparently all these failed attempts at suicide , warrant such a waiting period. Why could not it be interpreted as a sign to live instead of trying suicide in another 20 days , one cannot understand. Directors ofcourse , have poetic license , and not questioning , their conclusion , lets move on. And , ofcourse , they decide to spend these 20 days together . For a while , we are not clear why Priyanka wanted to die in the first place. Just when , you are about to decide , that she is generally of a suicidal tendency , her story is told. By that time , you dont really care. Anyways, Ranbir first falls in love with Priyanka. Priyanka , ofcourse being a girl , retains the prerogative to be confused about her feelings. She thinks she is still in love with the jerk of an ex boyfriend , when she is with Ranbir. And when with the ex -bf , she thinks she is in love with Ranbir. And luckily for her , both are  so  understanding, that one cannot help suspect if they really like her.  And ,then finally on the same bridge , they met first , they ofcourse also decide to get married. Then , the movie ends with the cliched’ joke that marriage is as good as suicide.

Frankly , I thought the movie started off on an interesting note. And I thought , that perhaps , it would turn out even more interesting. While it was quite predictable , that these two would fall in love , may be they could have without using so many cliches. At one point in time , you feel that the director is bored with the movie. Why else , does he keep throwing all the cinematic cliches , that were ever in existence at us? And so what you get as an end product , is a terrible mish mash of , pretentious , cliched , head ache inducing cinema, which seems to have too many songs.

Both Priyanka and Ranbir , have acted quite well in the movie. Both of them seem to have a certain ease to their acting , a sort of fluidity , and would have been a treat to watch , if the story had been better told. Ranbir particularly , is a find . He has shown  that he can act and the spark shown in Rocket Singh , continues. And in comparision , with the very wooden Imran Khan , he scores any day ,in the acting department. This man has potential , clearly ,for much bigger things. Priyanka , has also done well . Both of them also seem to be easy and relaxed around each other. I wouldnt call it chemistry , but yeah , they looked good together. Unfortunately , the characters are not very well developed. And it is surprising , if one considers the fact that , there are hardly any other roles , with a combined screen time more than 5 minutes . So much time on the screen , and yet , the character development ,somehow doesnt seem quite well.

There are also too many songs in the movie. As I said , the director was bored and clueless , towards the end , and he decided to fill the movie with cliches and songs.

So , thats the sad tale of the terrible strangers . Watch it if you have nothing else to do. Avoid it , if you can. I give it a 1.5 out of 5 .

HUD DABANGG..DABANGG ..DABANGG

Trying to poke holes ,into a Salman Khan movie , is like trying to shoot a sitting duck , that is lame and has been tied down to a boulder. It does not take much effort. As Salman Khan himself would have said it , “Tumhare  movie main itne ched karoonga , ki confuzze ho jaoge , ki saans kahan se leni hai ..” And the internet and very many blogs are rife with such reviews. And I had complete intentions of adding to that formidable repertoire  , when I decided to watch this movie. I had already made up my mind as to how I would write the review , and what clever sarcastic comments that I would throw in. But frankly , after watching the movie , I don’t have the heart to do so. I feel slightly ashamed , when I say this , but I actually enjoyed the movie. (sheepish grin) . So for once , may be this movie of Salman Khan , deserves a positive review.

Ofcourse , it is not to say that the movie is good. Far from it. In fact , I endured flak from my mother , all the way through the drive back from the movie hall , for dragging her to this movie. But then I told her , when you go to a Salman Khan movie , you are already prepared. The movie cannot be good. It can either be entertaining or boring. But good -never. And this one lives upto your expectations. It is definitely not good. But it is entertaining. And supremely so. Yes , the story is a mish mash of rehashed themes , which have been used like only a million times over before. Yes , the characters are mere caricatures with absolutely no depth or even a semblance of different facets. Yes , the narration is rather bumpy . Yes , the storyline is a mere , almost invisible thin thread , that threatens to break at any time. Yes , all of this notwithstanding , the movie manages to entertain.

For one , I am a South Indian. I have been brought up on a fare of South Indian films , and have enjoyed quite a few of them too (even more sheepish grin) . So this whole , good vs evil -macho hero- mother angle-daddy issues- foster brother-heroine role with absolutely no significance whatsoever , is just another day in the movie hall for me. It doesn’t bother me much. I can take  it in my stride and try to look beyond the obvious flaws. Well frankly , there is nothing beyond the flaws actually. The flaws are the movie.  But you get the point. I don’t mind watching such movies. When they are not pretending to be anything else other than the mish mash of old themes , with a generous sprinkle of masala thrown in. And that needs to be said about Dabangg . It does not pretend to be anything else.

Right from the first moment , the movie sets out to be an out and out masala entertainer. And perhaps , thats what works for the movie. The story ,or whatever excuse for a story that the movie has , is kept simple. The director has made sure , that the story does not interfere with the movie too much. And that worked. It is like a overly spicy dish , that you are eating. The spiciness is what carries the day. You know it is bad for you , but you like the spice , and you tell yourself , that for just this once , it’s ok.

For one , only Salman Khan could have , to use a cliche’ , breathed life into this role. Actually , it was like Salman Khan playing himself. So , no life breathing was actually required. Macho , crazy and unpredictable , he must have felt at home while enacting this role. The role did not demand much emoting or acting from the star , so , that was another saving grace. His dialogue delivery , is stilted as usual , but somehow goes with the role. But he does manage to adequately convey the persona , of a corrupt, macho ,crazy cop who has daddy issues. His comic timing is good , and it works because , there are some witty dialogues in the movie , and some genuinely funny moments , apart from those moments , ofcourse , which are funny because it is Salman Khan.  His dance moves are atrocious , as usual , but truth be told , I am in love with that , hands-in-pockets-  hud dabangg move. It has the potential to be right up there , with the towel step , in one of his earlier movies. Anyways , all in all , Salman Khan manages to carry off the role quite well.

Dimple Kapadia , as the ageing and troubled mother , is quite unconvincing. I dont know , what research she did for the role , to look the part of an ageing UP housewife , she only manages to convey that she is half retarded . A disaster of a role.

Vinod Khanna is adequate as the foster father. He does manage to convey meanness , when required , helplessness when called for , a mellowing down towards the end too. While the turnaround , in the father -son relationship , is kinda abrupt , who is talking about logic here anyways.

Arbaaz Khan , plays himself again. An idiot. So not much preparation  needed to have gone into the role. He is adequate. He moves around the movie like a zombie , and does idiotic stuff , but then hey , he is Arbaaz Khan , so lets cut him some slack.

But the real find of the movie is Sonu Sood. He was the only one , in the movie , trying to play the role , rather than himself. And he does quite well too. As a corrupt ,up and coming young political leader , he is very convincing. His emoting and action seem very natural and effortless , his dialogue delivery quite free flowing and his expressions quite convincing. One of the best roles of his career , so far , am sure. He has proved that he’s got talent.

Sonakshi Sinha , well , she is there. She has only one expression on her face.It is like  something sharp is pricking her in the rear side. And her face is frozen in that expression. Even when she is smiling or crying or …wait..she hasnt done much of anything else in the movie. So , yeah she is there. Has one expression throughout , has some songs , and thats about it I guess.

The dialogues are witty , and as I said before , there are some genuinely funny moments in the movie. And the rest of course is made funny by the very presence of Salman Khan. The songs are quite hummable , particularly Hud Dabangg and Munni Badnaam Hui ..

So , if you want a complete no pretense ,complete masala entertainer , go watch this movie. Take it from me , you wont be disappointed. For sheer entertainment , I give this a 4 out of 5. (sheepiest grin ever)

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