Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 30 November 2012


Endings matter. Especially when you are offered Aamir Khan as a cop with a past, Rani Mukherjee as a depressed wife, Kareena, an enigmatic hot hooker and the efficient makers of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. But when all this just remains as good as the promo and don’t quite come together in the end, you miss the tension filled ride in Sujoy Ghosh’s Kahaani.

If a mystery gets solved in your head half way if doesn’t quite satisfy. And when one genre is pitched as another in a promo, it disappoints too.

Talaash, unfortunately, remains one of those part satisfying, part disappointing films. Call it suspense, call it noir, call it drama. It doesn’t make a difference in the end.

A film star is found dead in a drowned car close to a red light area. Surjan (Aamir Khan), the cop in charge of the case investigates by day and drives around all night, sleepless and unable to deal with a troubled past. His marriage to Roshni (Rani Mukherjee), also depressed, has reached a dead-end. On one such late night drive, Surjan is accosted by a hooker, Rosy (Kareena Kapoor). The chance encounter leads him deeper into the glittering by lanes of the red light, further embroiling him into the mysterious car accident and his own personal trauma.

What follows is a beautifully shot almost two hour mood and murk montage of Kareena’s mysterious, beguiling, half seductive smiles, Aamir’s bitter, well chiseled, heavy moustached look carrying the conviction for the rest of the story. Strong supporting actors like Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Raj Kumar Yadav help big time.

A particularly tension filled song sequence beautifully filmed on Nawaz, by itself establishes Reema Kagti as a director with great promise.

Farhan Akhtar’s dialogues, along with additional dialogues by Anurag Kashyap keep up the tempo occasionally but the weak story and screenplay by Reema Kagti and Zoya Akhtar is unable to see the film through, post interval. The story fails to establish any emotional connect when it goes into personal drama area. When tackling its main mystery plot, it lacks sufficient intrigue and intensity. The subplot involving Nawaz’s involvement is not something you haven’t seen before. Despite brilliant cinematography (especially water-car crash scenes) by Mohanan, smooth editing by Anand Subaya, Talaash doesn’t quite make the fine cut.

Kareena Kapoor gets the most dramatic lines, which she delivers without too much fanfare She has certainly mastered the art of a tantalizing walk. Aamir Khan may disappoint his fans as he doesn’t have a chunky enough role. Rani displays sufficient sensitivity. Her simple sari look does more for her sexy back than any skimpy clothes would.

Ram Sampath ‘s fabulous music and Javed Akhtar’s lyrics are one of the best things about the film, especially the songs, ”jee le zaraa”” and “muskaanein jhooti hain”.

Watch Talaash for mild entertainment, great songs, great visuals but don’t expect any mindboggling quest or puzzle.  

Wednesday, 14 November 2012


Jab Tak Hai Jaan has too many strong competitors. Chandni,Daag,Silsila,Kabhi Kabhi, Lamhe, Darr,Dil to Pagal hai, Veer Zara to name a few in the romance genre. This film just about manages to live up to the illustrious filmmaker, Yash Chopra’s image and body of work, notwithstanding the  never ending, old fashioned script.

The Chopra elements are all there: beautiful landscape, the faith in undying and unforgotten love, beautifully cherished women ,a hero who loves like none other, a stellar star cast. However, the film lacks  the one important factor which made Yash Chopra films special: boldness in thought and character. Here it falls totally thanks to Aditya Chopra’s  story and dialogue stuck in time, marathon screenplay(Aditya Chopra,Devika Bhagat) and the dragging sentiment  of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi and Veer Zara.

The film is set in London (where else).The snow falls. Samar (Shah Rukh Khan) digs snow for a living. His eyes fall on Meera  (Katrina Kaif)running towards a Church. Cupid strikes…”Pehli baar barf mein pari ko tairte hue dekha tha..” He follows her to the Church. Enters the main villain, Jesus Christ. Meera believes in making pacts with her God .Every time she wants something, she lets go of what she loves the most. So after some guitar strumming, serving as a waiter and giving gyan to Meera near a dustbin, dancing wildly with her, winning her over, he meets with an accident. Meera makes another pact with Jesus and the lovers separate for life. Samar, miraculously is now in the Indian army, diffusing his 98th bomb because he is “the man who cannot die”.

 Between the 98th bomb and his 108th,he meets Akira (Anushka Sharma)who has a 'fitoor’ of getting her first break with Discovery Channel with Samar’s crazy love story. She belongs to the new wave  ”instant make out, instant breakup” generation who wants to know what intense love is like. Several convoluted twists in the script later, Samar meets Meera again. The film gets longer than ever.

Shah Rukh Khan, well into his late 40s,has mastered both lover boy charm and intense passion. He slips easily from the playful Samar with Meera to the cynic Samar with Akira. Unfortunately neither Yash Chopra’s direction nor her silly characterization can help Katrina Kaif deliver any of the intensity required. Anushka as the sprightly and spunky Akira can win any heart over and sustains one’s interest in the film.
A.R Rehman’s music  and Gulzar’s  lyrics fail to match their own genius  as well as the magic of Kabhi Kabhi and Lamhe. Aditya Chopra’s much hyped poem ”jab tak hai jaan” is as much an attempt at intensity as his script. Anil Mehta’s  cinematography reflect’s Yash Chopra’s love for the grandeur.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan despite little jaan, may work for Yash Chopra loyalists, Shah Rukh Khan’s ample charm and his somewhat shy first screen kiss.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


There is a new challenge for multi crore Telgu/Tamil remake movies. The challenge is to be innovative best in PJs (read Punjabi jokes) and drag them till you have a three hour footage of turbans, song n dance, swords play, and some silly horse and jeep chase.

Here’s how Son of Sardar adapted from Telgu film,Maryada Ramannna  and Buster Keaton film “Our Hospitality” and loosely inspired by Romeo And Juliet, Dilwaale Dulhaniya Le Jaayenge; tries to innovate.

1.Romeo is a Sikh, known as Jassi  (Ajay Devgn) who wants to make everyone happy and keeps saying to one and all.. “kabhi hus liya karo”. It doesn’t matter if his father, a sardar  killed Sukh’s  (Sonakshi Sinha)father in a dispute,left behind some property taken over by Sukh’sccousin, Billu( Sanjay Dutt).Billu has sworn not to marry his fiancé of 25 years(Juhi Chawla) until he kills the son of Sardar. Dutt’s only weakness  is that he follows his family’s hospitality ethics  of respecting a guest at his home.  So Jassi flits between fear (lives inside with them, taking full advantage of hospitality ethics )and courage(occasionally fights like a Sardar who is equivalent to sawa lakh army of men).Hanging upside down on the entrance doorway to ward off swords, is one such innovation.

2. When Jassi first meets his dulhan to be, he reaches out from the doorway Dilwaale style as the heroine comes running after a train. His hand keeps slipping from her beautifully bangled one until he falls out. He has to work much less than Raj and Simran in the original in order to make the heroine fall for him. All he has to do is to get a coconut inside a train window grill. Tough task. There is some innovation here in coconut gifting.

3. Once the heroine’s heart has been won, the thinner than turban screenplay(Robin Bhatt,Ashwini DhIr,Shaheen Bhatt) becomes more challenging than ever. He is cornered by the enemies in their home turf. Now he has to save his life and win them over. He does that with ease, running around with a pickle jar, having a few drinks and  interacting with enemy number one in long hair and black sherwani,Billu, with comments like  ” aap truck ke piche likhi shayari acchi bolte hain”.

Ajay Devgn is quite at ease as Jassi in a turban, mouthing lines like “aap saabun se nahati hain ya cream se..” or juggling his muscular breasts prompting a line,  ”ye sardaar apne than kaise hilata hai?”. Sanjay Dutt is better at being a dumb giant of a villain than he ever was as a hero. Sonakshi Sinha is decorative enough, flashing her large eyes around. Tanuja remains a complete wonder as she carries off the most ridiculous scenes with just a bright glint in her eyes. Juhi Chawla is bright and fun as always as the romantically cheerful fiancé waiting to marry Dutt.Salman Khan makes an entirely forgettable guest appearance.

Irshaad Kamil’s lyrics like  “ yeh jo halki halki khumariya..”  are a pleasant change.

Director, Ashwini Dhir has made “Atithi Tum Ghar Kab Jaaoge” before this and clearly believes his audience would rather laugh through PJs than sit at home during Diwali.

One would be better off, playing with tiny sparkling phooljhadis, turning them round and round. Now, innovate.

Saturday, 3 November 2012


“Thoda khao,thoda pheko..”. The hilarious cake scene that never fails to crack you up.

Dialogues made  memorable by Ranjit Kapur and Satish Kaushik.

“Shaant gadadhari Bheem shaant…”.

“Draupadi jaisi Sati naari ko dekhkar maine cheerharan ka idea drop kar diya hai.”

“Nalayak, adharmi,durachari,vamachari, bhrashtachari,bol sorry.”

The infamous Draupadi  cheerharan redefined, Mahabharata and   Anarkali/Salim rolled into one. Can there be anything more side splitting? ROFL would be an understatement.

 Vinod Chopra’s (Naseeruddin, God amongst actors) loud whispers in the most ridiculous telephone sequence with Ashok (Satish Kaushik,hilarious).”Albert Pinto ko gussa kyon aata hai?”  Buffonery at its best.

Shobha Sen’s (Bhakti Barve, brilliant) cold yet seductive scenes as she allows Naseer to lean in towards her until he falls. Literally and metaphorically. A femme fatale, or a bitch-call her what you like, she is the most fascinating character yet to be repeated or matched  in Indian cinema.

Municipal Commisioner,D’Mello’s dead body playing Draupadi. Satish Shah infuses life into the most challenging role of a lifetime.

Late Ravi Baswani ‘s perfect timing as an actor. His innocence and naiveté as Sudhir Misra cries out to be protected.

Tarneja locked in a toilet, along with his screwball team of idiots including the talented Neena Gupta.Taneja is the epitome of greed and corruption. Pankaj Kapur in his element as he becomes one with the corrupt builder,  effortlessly.

A sloshed builder, Ahuja talking to a dead body. Om Puri at his ultimate best. 
The mystery of a disappearing coffin on a  bridge. A location-the city of Mumbai can’t be used better than this.

Two bumbling photographers trying to revive a failing studio, hired by an investigative editor to expose a corrupt builder. A setup has never been more classic, more potent, and more powerful. Sudhir Misra and Kundan Shah put together the most powerful story and screenplay in Indian cinema. Binod Pradhan’s charming cinematography and late Renu Saluja’s sharp edit complete the small and big picture.

Beauty Studio,Khabardaar magazine, a bitch of an editor, a bridge, a moving coffin, a bomb waiting to burst, Mahabharata, D’mello in a saree, Draupadi’s cheerharan,classic  burkha chase,Tarneja and Ahuja,Naseer and Baswani in prison clothes, the last shot facing the camera…these and the list above  are umpteen recall moments which  make the film a cult classic it remains today.

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, made in 1983 on a meagre budget of Rs 7 lakhs, is far more than a two hour film or a weekend at the box office. It is an experience that ironically means let go but doesn’t leave you ever. It is about associations you and I have formed as cine goers over the past 30 years. It is spontaneity, honesty, fun, commitment as a team that shines through celluloid. The best and the most entertaining and hard hitting reflection, not just of the eighties but of the corrupt life and politics which continue to plague India.
A fabulous bridge, coffin and stage ride later, you are left with the hollowness of the song that plays endlessly, hits you harder than any slap and becomes an anthem that defines the dark satire .... ”hum honge kaamyaab ek din…”

Every single scene, every single character, every single actor is applause worthy as it plays again in cinema halls. Take a bow, Kundan Shah.

Friday, 2 November 2012


Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana milks the Punjabi flavor of Bollywood formula dry and ends up warm but bland.
The ingredients are all well assembled and well fleshed out. Here’s a look at the recipe:
1. A London return Punjabi crook on the run.
Only he looks too decent to even harm a fly or a chicken. Omi Khurana (Kunal Kapoor) is a small time thief who owes the local don several pounds in London. He asks for more time so that he can get it (read steal) from his rich grandfather, Daarji (Vinod Nagpal, Humlog fame) who runs the best Dhaba in India. Daarji is known for a secret chicken recipe which is now locked in his lost memory. Omi’s mission is to find and sell the recipe along with the closed dhaba to a competitor to pay off his debts and save his life.

2. The yellow mustard fields, a dhaba and lots of parantha and chicken gravy.
All seen before, except that the scale is smaller, the ambience more real. Besides, Amit Trivedi’s DEV D like eclectic music track with plenty of Punjabi lyrics ( Shellee)add to the mix.

3. Hot Punjabi kudi who can dance and cook.
This one rides a scooter, wears a  helmet( a plus) and is a local doctor.She is Harman (Huma Qureshi) ,an old school flame who has been treating Darji Here comes a conflict. She is engaged to his cousin. Except that it doesn’t seem to be much of a conflict where the Punjabi bad puttar’s intentions are concerned. It doesn’t help much either when  the cousin takes the plot to a lopsided Bengali twist. Ki bolcho?

4. Authentic faces in the family.
Khosla ka Ghosla got that better. Each one here, doesn’t quite make the cut despite meaty roles. Except a crow who provides the most significant twist. Quite neat.

 5. People who are weird but adorable.
 Wierd,yes. Adorable, not always. Vicky Donor got that like makkhan on paratha. So here, we have an eccentric mama(Rajesh Sharma) who likes snuggling in the blanket with his nephew and pretends to be off the rocker. In the end, he or rather the story attempts a shocker, ends up a no brainer. There is also a brief appearance by a buaji turned saint (Dolly Ahluwalia)who smokes and sniggers and accidentally reveals the much sought secret our hero is after. Well played.

6. Fart jokes and pissing scenes.
 Neither funny,  nor touching. Close to gross. Far cry from Bansali’s ‘hawa ka jhokha’ in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam or more recent Vicky Donor’s description of a husband being missed.

All of the above ingredients would have had  some potential of  a palatable dish if spiced and mixed right. But the severe lack of conflict and miraculous resolutions, slow writing despite well etched characters (Sumit Batheja), forced scenes and contrived jokes; makes LSDCK completely lose the plot especially in the end.
Despite being well shot  by Mitesh Mirchandani (particularly a small moment where Kapoor is half reflected in sunlight in his dhaba, putting on an apron)and skillfully  directed by debutant(Sameer Sharma) the film lacks energy and pace. Some more play with food visuals would have been more than welcome.

Decent  performances don’t help either. Kunal Kapoor and  Huma Qureshi are competent and controlled but lack chemistry. Rajesh Singh in a stellar role as mamaji is noticeably good. Of the lot,chachaji  steals the show during one boring speech scene.
Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana starts off with some hot air, grows on you with its lovingly crafted ingredients but sadly ends up with a fleshy heart, half cooked.

Thursday, 1 November 2012


Real lives can be more inspiring than reel lives, both in life and in death. Shahid, based on the life of Shahid Azmi, criminal lawyer murdered for defending a 26/11 accused, is one such riveting watch.

It takes rare courage to live a life like Shahid did. It takes a genuine voice like director Hansal Mehta(‘Chal’ and Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar’),to showcase the same life within logistic restrictions.   

The film begins at a small chawl in the by lanes of  Govandi  in Mumbai in 1993 amidst Hindu Muslim riots. The residents, Shahid and his  family miraculously escape death. The fear in the tiny room is taut and palpable as the family of 4 grown up boys cling to their mother in desperation.  Traumatized by the attacks he has just witnessed, Shahid runs away to Pakistan occupied Kashmir and joins a Jihaadi camp to train as a terrorist. Every day the leader brainwashes the recruits into willingly becoming suicide bombers. Shahid questions the leader, “If Quran does not permit suicide, how is it right?” This questioning attitude and Jihaadis’ utter ruthlessness, makes Shahid run back home. He immerses himself in his studies, as if determined to find answers in his books. Unfortunately, he is arrested soon for being associated with the Jihadis. In Tihar jail, he meets his true mentors who help him continue his education. Few years later, Shahid is proved innocent and released.

The real story begins here. The film follows Shahid’s life as a lawyer who takes up challenging cases of innocents falsely implicated in acts of terrorism. He ignores life threats and phone calls by terrorists, tries unsuccessfully to balance his own married life and continues with his one man battle against the system where the police catch hold of anyone remotely connected
The film goes deep into two such cases, showing real and rare glimpses of court trails. Every single scene and interaction with defence lawyers and victims, is laced with subtle humour and irony. The battleground of courtroom becomes the viewer’s drawing room as the involvement with Shahid’s life gets real.
Better production values and camera work and a tighter script (Sameer Gautam Singh,Apoorva Asrani,Hansal Mehta) might have taken Shahid to a finer level in cinematic values. However, the story itself told with passion, the docu drama treatment and fantastic, controlled performances by Raj Kumar Yadav as Shahid, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayuub  as Shahid’s supportive brother and Vipin Sharma as prosecuting lawyer, together, make the film a gripping watch.

 Shahid, a runner up in Gold category at MAMI festival, will hopefully release soon. Watch it to enjoy  honest cinema and to know true heroism.