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Monday, June 7, 2010

Movie Review : Rajneeti - Not completely compelling...


Genre : Drama

Films on Indian Politics have a trademark feel. Specially from directors like Prakash Jha, Sudhir Mishra, Anurag Kashyup. Its raw, its fast paced, its brutal and its in your face. Rajneeti is re-packaging of an age old story with new characters and known situations. Rajneeti is the vehicle for Actors and not just stars. Rajneeti is a welcome relief in the slump, but not exactly a benchmark film.

Largely inspired from the Mahabharata and The Godfather, this one is a tribute to both. Its about a family that rules Madhya Pradesh politics and the infighting within the family for power. Direct references are to the Mahabharat family in terms of charcters and direct scenes are lifted from the Godfather ( like the Hospital sequence and the horse head sequence).

Lets talk about the positives. Like most recent Prakash Jha films, this film also has a very tense undercurrent, with things happening left right and centre. Infact there are so many characters in the film, that it takes you some time in understanding who's who. But once you know, you are sucked in. The first half goes like a breeze. With political cards thrown all over the place, the movie keeps you on the edge and sets up for a stupendous second half. The scale, the background score,the screenplay overwhelm you and you think you are gonna watch history being made. 2 actors keep you spellbound - Nana Patekar and Manoj Bajpai. Nana Patekar who plays "Krishna" the guide is fabulous is almost every moment. He emotes to perfection in the most tense of scenes. Manoj Bajpai as "Duryodhan" is also in top form. His angry speeches, his inner turmoil blazes the screen. The others like Ajay Devgan, Ranbir Kapoor, Arjun Rampal do a good job aswell, and the only weak link seems Kathrina Kaif, though she does redeem herself towards the end. What is also refreshing to see, is that no one is shown as a pure soul and completely white. Everyone has shades of grey and everyone is ready to do anything to gain power.

 What makes this movie a GOOD movie but not a GREAT one is an average second half which drags. Infact in trying to put in so many references some scenes seem irritating. You wonder why did Prakash Jha spoil something that he had started so well. Some irritating points are a few forced assasinations, an avoidable reference to "KARAN", some unwanted pregnancies! The film would have done without these things. Also, though Arjun Rampal does a decent job, he seems out of place in the raw charcters look. Ajay Devgan is wasted with too little screen time. Kathrina Kaif, though suits the character to the T, is weak in some sequences. Finally, the climax is ridiculous to say the least! These points are irritating, because suddenly a complex, intelligent , realistic film becomes farcical.

Gangajal still remains Jha's most powerful film even though Rajneeti touches some dizzy height towards the interval.  Its a nice little tribute to both Mahabharat and Godfather, but unfortunately would not come in that category of culthood. I would say that it is a job half done, and I still think Prakash Jha could have avoided the Godfather references. Thats what made Gulaal so refreshing. Even though it also lost momentum in the second half, it remained a genuinely original film.

Go for it, as its one of better movies to have hit the screens in a long time. Plus, directors like Prakash Jha, Sudhir Mishra should be given support so that they come up with more compelling dramas. As far as Rajneeti is concerned, the political drama is complex, but not completely compelling..

Rating : 7 / 10 (0.5 extra for Nana Patekar's whizardry...)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Movie Review : Kites - Pour fa BORE !

Genre: Romance

Sizzling Heroin, Muscular Hero, Psychotic Vamp, Idiotic Villian, Scenic Setting, Frantic Chases, Brooding Romance, A Tragic End, Eternal Love - Ingredients of a Potential Blockbuster. But sometimes the sum of parts is not the whole. Because it depends on the cook, how much a particular spice should be added. This one has one too many slow motion set pieces, tight frames with a crazy background than can be digested. Its like attempting to make Tortilla and ending up with an Enchilada!

Kites, an ambitious project set in and around the border of Mexico and US, is a love story of 2 people who do not know each others languages. They meet out of need, get seperated and when they meet again, they dont want to seperate all over again. So, there's Hritik who forces himself to marry the Psychotic Kangana for her money and there's Barbara who for the same reason wants to marry the Idiotic Villian. Suddenly, out of no where Love appears in their hearts and they decide it's time to make a run for it. But Crazy Vamp and Idiotic Villian want revenge. So, starts a never ending sequence of chases intertwined with slow motion romance sequences.

The film has its plus points. First of all, its not too long, even though it feels long. Next, it has some amazing Cinematography, excellent production value and decent screenplay for the weak script. Also, it is a brave attempt of making an international film as its got a mix of spanish, english and hindi dialogues (characters dont speak hindi just for the heck of it!!) It would be a good idea though, to dub it in Hindi and release it in B and C centers. Also, the Director Basu, has some flair in terms of shooting sequences and his style leaves a mark. 

But this is where the GOOD-buck stops!!! The problem with the movie is the weak script. The romance between the 2 main characters never achieves depth. They say "I love you" , but you never feel it. You see Hritik pining for her, but why you never understand. Anyways, maybe that's love - complicated ! Then there is the problem of some horrendous background score. When you have a movie so heavily dependent on background score, you need something operatic, magnificient. Though the attempt is brave, its weak. Most of all, the script is extremely weak.

Pages of the screenplay document seem to have been misplaced, thus resulting in converting half the scenes into SLOW MOTION pans! The first half is filled with THINGS UNSAID, LONG STARES, A SPANISH GUITAR playing in the background and you trying to plan what to eat next ! The second half is full of Chases and you laughing your guts out at some woefully shallow romantic sequences. Also, you wonder why Hritik, a U.S. citizen keeps fluctuating between an American and an Indian English accent? Our SuperStars really need to start getting into the skin of the character more and leave their own persona behind.

Overall, Hritik has done a good job in the film, while Barbara looks good, pouts and emotes decently. If you survive the film, you might take back a few good moments, but that is if you do not leave in the first half. I would say its a decent attempt at giving India a different kind of a love story. Anurag Basu, tried to create a Romantic Painting, but it ended up being a romantic PAIN thing ! Save your money for better fares coming up in the coming weeks, unless you are a Hritik fan. After all one of the films songs itselff preaches "Zindagi - Do pal ki" - why waste it !!! Pardon my Spanish - this one's POUR fa BORE !

Rating: 4.5 / 10

Friday, May 21, 2010

Movie Review: Shrek Forever After - An almost appropriate ending, but not quiet!


Genre : Animation 

The only thing really disappointing about the final edition is that it ends a widely loved franchise. Otherwise, its more than a watchable film. Though strictly speaking, the first two editions were brilliant and this ones just plain good. Even if you compare it to the films that have come out before this one - How to Train your dragon, Up - this ones ordinary.

Shrek has a happy little life with his kids, his friends, his friends kids etc and his life has become a cycle of waking up, feeding kids, cleaning them, having food with his friends, singing songs and going back to sleep again. All's well on the surface, but Shrek is frustrated by the monotony in his life. He is not the same old feared Ogre, he used to be and he hates it. So out of frustration, he signs up a magical deal to get back his old life for just one day. Ofcourse, it's not just an ordinary deal and a whole new adventure starts.

What is really awesome about the movie is the 3-D experience. The movie is deliberately made for a 3D audience and many of the sequences look especially awesome due to the 3D effect. Also, like all the franchises, the humor rocks. Donkey, Puss in Boots and the villainous RumpelStiltskins are hilarious, and so are the take offs on the good old fairy tales. The first half ends with you wanting more.

The problem with the movie is that its too familiar. Everything you look at is like something you have already seen. Shrek has the same main characters, the same setting and it does not convert into something extraordinary. That does not mean that it's not enjoyable. Infact it is really a good time at the movies.

So if you are an OGRE lover, go to the theaters right away, coz I am sure this is your best bet this weekend. I am upset though, because even though the poster says ITS NOT OGRE, UNTIL ITS OGRE -- Its actually over....and not exactly with as big a bang as I expected.

Rating : 6.5 / 10

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Movie review: Badmaash Company : A Bad Mash of a film



The biggest con in this film is that of the director. That he conned the producer to pump in crores of rupees in the film, conned known actors to work in it and got the film released is the biggest achievement. That is Parmeet Sethi's biggest achievement, coz what he had for a script was a bumbling no brainer. The script apparently must have been written by one of his sons when they were in standard 4 and he would have decided to back it. Then he would have watched back to back episodes of the British series Hustle and decided to copy the style blindly.

I must give the film some credit. The film starts kiddishly with silly humour, but then by the end of the first half picks up pace with a well executed con. But then the second half is such a distater that I seriously wonder how didnt anybody on the set realise the same. I am amazed by Parmeet's con-abilities. So, we have these 3 idiots who have just finished their engineering. Shahid is the blessed one, engineering topper. His father still believes that he is only capable enough to become a peon in an office. So much for setting the film in 1994, the engineering/doctor era! He wants his son to do an MBA, and start working in a stable job like he has done all his life. But Shahid goes against his fathers advice, starts his own BADMAASH company and starts making money by conning the system. The first half turns out to be bearable, but in the second half they land up in the US to continue their conning ways. And con after con, the film becomes more absurd than before. The success goes to Shahids head, which leads to his fall and then the film converts into a moral science lesson while you start tearing your hair out.

There are several problems with this film. The music is atrocious. The director feels that the way to make a con film successful is not having a brilliant idea, but by having the lead actors walk towards the camera in a single file in slow motion, with heavy music playing in the background ( like Reservoir Dogs). After every fifteen minutes the 4 main leads of the film wear goggles and walk in style to heavy music. The problem is also that if you want to make a con film, why do you bring your conscience into it? Forget morals for a minute and make an intelligent con film. It is an utterly confused film, the director not knowing what he wants to show. Then there is the problem of charcter development. The characters change their colors so easily that you yourself get confused. The transformation of Shahid from a good natured starry eyed man, to a brat and then his instantaneous realisation is wildly amaeturish. Even Anushka Sharma converts from a slutty, ultra modern girl to a devoted girlfriend in the blink of an eye! I will stop for now, or this would get converted to a 500 page novel on How Not to make a film !!!

What I liked in the film, is the honest effort by Chang, Vir and Anushka. Shahid for one, is suddenly going the Fardeen Khan way. He is giving flops at the rate Sachin makes centuries. As far as his performance is concerned it is apparent that he needs a good director to make him really act , otherwise he remains an SRK wannabe. Parmeet Sethi should perhaps throw away his Hollywood con films collection and the Hustle series collection and have a look at the Indian con film like Johnny Gaddar - one gem of a film. Even Bluffmaster and 99m were not this confused. You cannot alienate yourself from your surrounding while making a film. Also, I think its time I write a script in 2 to 3 hours of free time and push it with YRF and I would try to make it a no brainer. I am sure the IDIOTS approving the scripts would fund me with crores and add in an SRK.

Chalo, I must work now. As for you , do not go to the theaters for this one. Its all style, no substance and one bad mash of a film!

Rating : 3  / 10

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Movie Review : Love, Sex aur Dhoka - Beyond expectations...



Welcome to the world of digital cinema - a film-making medium for the common man. If you have a good concept, a limited budget and a good team - go for it. And thats exactly what Dibanker has done. He has 3 decent provocative stories, a taut screenplay and some very good unknown actors. What he benefits from, though,  is some really high-fi digital cams and very good post production.

I have no idea why I had not watched this movie yet, but thank god I did. Dibanker has taken a shooting concept, now quiet common in Hollywood movies and used it to shoot 3 provocative stories. When you have a title like LSD - love, sex and dhoka, half battle is already won. So, the first story deals with a director and an actress who fall in LOVE while making a romantic diploma film. They elope and get married with disastrous consequences. The second story is about how a man lures a girl into having SEX with him, records it on camera and sells the sex tape. And the third is about DHOKA a sting operation , where a journalist and a wanna-be dancer try to bring to light the casting couch ways of a popular pop star.

The first story sets things up with a jarring end, but overall its a less than ordinary story. What stays with you is the innovative story telling. The second story is the best of the lot. It has some awesome characters, the best of which is a Haryanwi speaking bitchy sales-girl. The main cast Raj Yadav and Neha Chauhan also d an excellent job. The characterisation of the man who sets out to lure a average looking girl, falls in love, but still goes ahead with his nefarious plan for want of money is excellent; hardhitting and brutal. The third story is lifted by the excellent performances by Arya Devdutta as the wanna-be dancer and Herry Tangdi as the popstar.

The language used is as brutal as the imagery. The realism of the movie is maintained by deliberate mistakes in shooting, like shaking camera, off center characters and abrupt cuts. But the narration does not suffer throught the film and is seemless. Though it would be difficult for an average viewer to digest, it is refreshing to see such a raw film coming from Bollywood. What makes this kind of film making difficult, is that there are a lot of big scenes to be shot in one go, with the best coordination required from the whole team and on this aspect the whole team comes up tops. Complex scenes are executed to perfection, like the Store Shootout sequence or the scene where the journalist jumps from the bridge to save the wanna-de dancer.

Overall, despite its flaws this is an excellent film by Dibanker and surely is beyond my expectations.

Rating : 7 / 10 ( I feel generous today :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Movie Review : How to train your dragon - Simply 3-Delicious !



Wow, now that’s a spectacular film. How to Train your Dragon is one hell of a story and one hell of a ride.

I was waiting for this film to be released and didn’t waste time in running for it. And thank god I did. “HTTYD” is a 3-D animation film, which lives up to its tag of a 3-D film. As far as Animation Films go, this one is up there with the best of them.

HTTYD is about this clan of Vikings which hunt and kill dragons. According to them Dragons are vile creatures that have the sole motive of killing their kin, so Dragons are their sworn enemies. But one little kid, who is now being trained to kill dragons, never understands why he has to kill them. He comes across this injured unknown legendary dragon and starts developing a friendship with it. So now he starts understanding Dragons and how they are not so devilish afterall. Does he manage to make others understand? What are the challenges and how he tackles them? That’s what the rest of the film is about. And what a great ride it is !

You expect a DreamWorks production to have amazing Animation, and the film does not disappoint you with its quality. What you are not sure of is the story, characters and the screenplay. And that is where the movie scores. It has a touching story, an engaging story/characters and a gripping screenplay. The background score elevates the impact. The film is not just for the kids; it’s for the kid in all of us. The 3-D impact of the movie is much higher than a movie like Avatar which could have been enjoyed as much in 2-D. Also, the voice overs by the likes of Jay Baruchel, America Ferrera, Gerard Butler and Jonah Hill are excellent.

So what are you waiting for? Go for the 3-D version and do not wait for a DVD if you love animation films. Even if you don’t like animation films, go for it, you might start liking them ! This movie is simply 3-Delicious. Bon-app├ętit.

Rating : 8 / 10 - awesome :)

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