Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Teri Meri Kahani: A bump here, a song there.

A boy meets a girl. Sorry. A boy bumps into a girl. It’s love at first sight.

Who is he? Who is she?...Who cares? They are in love. That’s all that matters. Is there a love story? Oh yes, they sing songs, don’t they? So what’s the point? Oh right, they simply bump into each other, dressed differently. And of course there is a change in location. There is history here, you see.

In 1910, they are in Lahore. He is a loafer who mouths inane lines and calls it shayari. She is a freedom fighter’s daughter who wants him to do more than spout shayari. He bumps into her on the terrace. Time for a song. When it’s goodbye time, she asks him for more shayari. Time for a song.

In 1960, they meet in a train and land in Mumbai. She is a film star who carries the Filmfare with her picture on the cover. He is someone who doesn’t recognise her and carries a guitar with him. They eat jamuns and discuss mangoes. Time for a song.

In 2010, they are students in England. They bump into each other on the street and exchange cellphones. They drink beer and she talks about lunchbox and suitcases. They part. They text, they facebook. Time for a song.

In Teri Meri Kahani, it doesn’t matter who and what the story is about. In every era, we just see Priyanka and Shahid, not Aradhna/Javed (1910), Rukhsar /Govind (1960) or Radha/Krish (2012).

Put together with a lame beginning, middle and ending and a string of song and dance sequences, Teri Meri Kahani is a flat attempt by writer and director, Kunal Kohli along with screenplay co-writer, Robin Bhatt to weave a love story spanning three eras.

Kunal Kohli’s better film, Hum Tum was a good rip off from ‘Harry Met Sally’, while Fanaa, taken from ‘Eye of the Needle’ was a bad remake. Teri Meri Kahani, while, not an adaptation, has nothing original going for it, either. Here is a story spanning years but fails to be either an epic or about ageless love. The period costumes and the sets along with bouffant and scarves from the early years, seem just as plastic as the actors.

Shakespeare is mentioned in one line to explain the fallacy of love. One can’t explain the fallacy of the film here. As for Shahid and Priyanka fans, there is only disappointment in store. The chemistry from Kaminey is missing, so is the performance.

As for the integral part of the film, ‘Mukhtasar’ is the only song that is a hummable one, with music by Sajid-Wajid, lyrics by Prasoon Joshi...”mukhtasar mulaakat hai, ankahi koi baat hai..”. Ankahi, indeed.

Teri Meri Kahani is all fluff and no candy, lighter and emptier than popcorn.

Friday, 22 June 2012

                                          GANGS OF WASSEYPUR:LABOURED EPIC

A film that is screened at Cannes film festival and then generates hype  over how much of a Bollywood masala film it is, says a lot about its marketing. The noise as loud as the gun powder of this gang war drama, needs to be made. Gangs of Wasseypur, though accomplished and ambitious in its vision, is neither a world cinema classic nor a commercial entertainer.

Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) tells his wife on his wedding night, “Keh ke lenge hum…hamari  jindagi ka ek hi maqsad hai-badla.”  Sardar Khan’s father, Shahid Khan was killed by his employer, Ramadhir Singh,(Tigmanshu Dhulia)  threatened by Shahid’s plans of treachery. Sardar is brought up by his loyal mentor,(Piyush Misra) who tells him about his father’s death. Sardar at a tender age, shaves his head and decides to avenge his father when he grows up. Sardar’s bride, having seen him tuck a huge knife inside the back of his pants and leave to plunder new victims, develops a loyalty towards his revengeful dreams.

Set in Wasseypur, a remote area in Bihar, the story(Syed Zeishan Qadri) tells a long revenge saga that has its origins buried deep in the coalmines of Dhanbad. What starts pre Independence, as a fist fight by an enraged father , his face blackened with coal and a heart burning with revenge, slowly grows into a never ending war between generations, well into the nineties. Sardar Khan is seen growing into a hardened criminal who takes on two different enemies in two cities of Dhanbad and Wasseypur, while trying to balance his lusty laundiyabaaz dalliance between his wife, prostitutes and a second wife.

As Khan’s growing power over his enemy looms large, the story shifts focus to his sons ,their marriage and romance which cause more havoc with Khan’s own life. The story, finally gathers more momentum and energy in the latter half, after lingering over indulgently on Sardar’s life.

GOW starts on a rapid fire tone, literally, with a gang of men opening fire with their rifles on a family which was spending a peaceful evening watching ‘Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’. It moves back from 1994 to pre Independence time in the same village and continues to drop pace in a deliberate manner, while moving towards 1966 and so forth. Following Sardar’s life and his women, the screenplay(Anurag Kashyap,Akhilesh Jaiswal,Sachin Ladia,Syed Zeeshan Qadri) starts dragging after a while.

Small romantic scenes where the sons stumble and fumble in charming, rustic awkwardness as they fall in love, along with Yashpal Sharma lip syncing to Lata Mangeshkar’s voice singing ‘Salame ishq meri jaan..’, render a few light moments.

Manoj Bajpai as the twisted, disgusting Sardar Khan is deadly in his performance. The acts of lust and violence are shown purely through the perfect expression of his eyes. Piyush Misra, and Jameel Khan as the loyal henchmen along with Misra’s  commentary lend complete authenticity to the Bihar setup. Tigmanshu Dhulia as  the cold and sharp Ramadhir Singh, proves that he is as great an actor as a director. Nawazuddin Siddiqui as Sardar’s son, more human and romantic, is endearing in his simplicity. Richa Chadda and Reema Sen make their presence felt both through their raunchy sex appeal as well as fury driven performances.

Rajiv Ravi’s dark cinematography is in keeping with story’s  languorous style. The soundtrack and the music  (Amit Trivedi and Sneha Khanwalkar), the best part of the film infuses much needed life into the never ending saga.  The lyrics in all the songs, especially  “keh ke lunga”(Piyush Misra ) and the catchy “womaniya” (Varun  Grover)  are audacious and entertaining.

Most of all, Anurag Kashyap’s masterful direction reminds one of his first film, Black Friday’s documentary style in its effort to combine historic facts of coal mining with the dramatic revenge tale. Overall, a novel  and authentic look at criminal life in the hinterlands of Bihar with fascinating,  disgusting characters, GOW  gets occasionally marred by its epic form of storytelling that ironically begins with a shot from ‘Kyonki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi’.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Friday, 8 June 2012


Very few movies make you sit up and notice a detailed finesse and mastery in direction. Shanghai is one of them. Be it the choice of subject, the storytelling, the cinematography, the edit, the casting, the sound, the art design: every department reflect’s the director, Dibakar Banerjee’s craft and eye for detail.

Based on a book ‘Z’ by Vassilis Vassilikos, cleverly titled Shanghai is a riveting socio political drama that depicts the dangers of India turning into a Shanghai (India Bana Pardes). Dr Ahmedi(Prosenjit Chatterjee), an activist based in New York, arrives in the fictitious township called Bharat Nagar. His aim is to raise awareness amongst the masses against the existing company , India Business Park (IBP) backed by the ruling political party, taking over their land to create malls and skyscrapers. Soon, in a spine chilling incident, he is run over by a van and lands up in a hospital, fighting for his life. His wife raises a protest, asking for an enquiry.

The chief minister(Supriya Pathak),entrusts IAS officer, Krishnan (Abhay Deol) with the responsibility of probing the murder. Ahmedi’s student and lover, Shalini Sahay(Kalki Koechlin)is also hell bent on nailing the people behind the murder. Only one man has access to the evidence: a small time videographer- Jogi (Emraan Hashmi) along with his partner.

The fascinating plot and screenplay (Urmi Juvekar , Dibakar)maintains the edgy tightness and intrigue right till the end. The unfolding of dramatic events as we follow Krishnan’s investigations along with Kalki’s personal involvement  with brief glimpses into the professor’s wife’s own unusual  reaction, keeps one hooked with its raw intensity.

 Hashmi running with a CPU, Deol and Kalki almost slipping on freshly mopped wet floor, rallies’ frightening faces ,slogans and sounds, a basketball innocuously appearing in the midst of a grim enquiry; are wonderful moments to watch out for.  
Every single actor right from the van driver and his accomplice to the central actors, bring in rare, real performances. Abhay Deol  as a controlled, silent and ambitious Tamilian bureaucrat and Emraan Hashmi  with his stained toothy grin, are so true to their characters  that after a while, one only sees them as  Krishnan and  Jogi.

Farooque Sheikh who appears in this film after a long hiatus, makes his presence felt with a remarkable performance as the dubious political wheeler dealer. Supriya Pathak as the clever and calculating chief minister, shows her immense versatility as an actor. Prosenjit as the charismatic social leader, charms with a rare combination of intellect and sex appeal. Pitobash as a small time goon, is noticeably good.

Kalki Koechlin’s kiss has been unduly hyped in the promotional interviews. There is also unnecessary explanations of her white skin in the film along with a brief romantic track with Prosenjit, that has does little for either her character or the story. Despite unconvincing, sullen and highly strung characteristics as dictated by the script , Kalki brings her own intensity and does ample justice to her role.

Above all, the cinematography by Nikos Andritsakis captures the dark and menacing mood with brilliant crowd shots. The first few seconds, one shot -a still overview of the city, is most evocative. The fabulously detailed art design, the sound design and the efficient edit (Namrata Rao) make this film a class apart.
Vishal- Shekhar’s music does very little for the movie, though  two songs stand out for their lyrics. ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ written by  Dibakar Banerjee has lines like 'Sone ki chidiya, Dengue Malaria, Gud bhi hain Gobar bhi...'(brilliant dance moves by Emraan and Pitobash) and ‘Imported Kamariya written by Anvita Dutt Guptan aptly depicts the movie’s theme.

Dibakar has been making films based on real subjects like Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Love, Sex and Dhokha. Both the films along with his first film, Khosla ka Ghosla, stand out for their art direction besides the unusual  and hard hitting subjects.

Besides the relevant story, Shanghai is worth watching for its superbly crafted treatment and cinematic brilliance.

Friday, 1 June 2012

                                        Rowdy Rathore: Moustache and music riot
The sound of drums beat to the tune of “Chinta ta chita..”. The villain lets out an angry roar. His voice turns mute as he gapes in horror. The cars around explode, flames filling up the screen as the hero in a police uniform, walks slow motion ahead, twirling his moustache. “Don’t...don’t..don’t angry me” plays in the background.

Seen before? Yes? Entertained still? Surprisingly,yes. The simple formula of the south is here again. The bravest of cops and the worst of villains. Put them together with some fun 70s style song and dance around it and it works. Never mind the mindlessness.

A pair of hands drums on a table top and the signature tune sets both the mood of the film as well as the hero’s character. Sameer Anjaan’s lyrics have fun with words..     
“Chinta ta chita chita..chita chita ta..Duniya chale pichadi
Toh main chalu agaadi
Sab khel jaanta hoon
Main hoon bada khiladi....
The song, combined with the hero dancing in colourful pants ranging from yellow to pink to blue are enough to put you in the fun mood that the director, Prabhudeva is clearly out to have. The fun of course,begins with good old filmi romance.

The hero with a simple, trim moustache, lives off his fingers deftly flicking jewellery off women,cellphones off men (they continue to talk without it before realising) and spraying deos which make women dance like they do in advertising commercials. He sets his eyes on a Bihari belle with a belly and can’t take his eyes off not so chikni belly. With a flick of his finger on his head, he rewinds the large fluttering lashes flirting at him. He wins her over her simply by following her around. And of course the two burst into a love song that is an ode the belly. Lyrics by Faiz Anwer do complete justice.

He: Hai chikni kamar pe teri
Mera dil fisal gaya
She: Strongly yeh jadoo tera
Mujhpe chal gaya

Mr trim moustache, having wooed Ms not so trim belly, finds himself suddenly chased by a mob of swords. Enters the mystery man with a big moustache, Rathore, a cop whose dream is to  twirl his moustachio in the face of death. A couple of deadly goons from Bihar turn up and it’s time for some action fun.

Brilliantly shot fight sequences on rocky landscape(Santosh Thundiyil), brings Prabhudeva’s directorial skill to one’s notice. The half goofy, half action style continues interspersed with  lines like “don’t angry me” ,“chinta ta chita ta” ‘drawing a few laughs.“Sachche policewaale ki wardi bhi duty nibhati hai” tries to set the sombre tone for this non angry looking slim moustached thief turned cop.

An item song. ‘Aa rey pritam pyaare..’ follows with two fantastic dancers(Shakti,Marium and Momaith )who shake their booty with amazing ease( a must watch for fabulous choreography and performance).
Now that it’s established that this is clearly Prabhudeva having fun with the actors, camera,Bollywood sentiments of double roles, cops  with moustache, bad men with axes, women’s bellies, sound and music, one can move on to the story.

Shiva (Akshay)is a small time thief who is trapped into protecting a cop, Rathore’s little daughter, since he is a lookalike. Shiva takes on the face of ‘Rowdy Rathore’ to fulfil Rathore’s duty of eradicating evil from  a Bihar village. The weak and predictable story(Vijayendra Prasad) and average screenplay and dialogues(Shiraz Ahmed) with surprisingly few ‘rowdy’ jokes, sustains itself mainly on the songs and the action scenes. The rest is a random mix of Singham and Agnipath.

Akshay is at ease with comedy ,action and dance.Sonakshi has little to do except move her not so chikni kamar and tries hard to sound valiant with little conviction, in the only scene that requires her to act. Nasser as the village tyrant is effective. Mushtaq Khan as a sidekick and Yashpal Sharma as a faithful cop are good.
The music(Sajid and Wajid) along with the lyrics which play a big role in the film, succeed in entertaining. Sanjay Leela Bansali finally comes out of his old fashioned, romantic mode of filmmaking and embraces the new colourful, fun genre as a co producer.

If watched in keeping with the goofy spirit of the film, this remake of Telugu film, Vikramarkudu, is a decent, silly vintage entertainment.