Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 29 March 2013


In a scene, Ajay Devgn tickles Paresh Rawal. Then he says," pehle main hasaata hoon, phir roolata hoon." This is director Sajid Khan' intention, clearly.  

To watch Himmatwala in the name of 'masala' mindless entertainment, you need to be seriously bored with your life. You also need to admire Sajid Khan's guts to put together complete nonsense and pass it off as some kind of a spoof of the eighties.

In 1983,Himmatwala starring Sridevi and Jeetendra was a blockbuster. This one has no such hope.

Here's the lowdown on the lowbrow story (Sajid Khan). Ravi (Ajay Devgn) is a wrestler who makes his 'entry'  with the back of his head, a rod around his neck. He easily splits open the heavyweight pipe and announces himself as the 'himmatwala' who takes on challenges. Next he takes the train to Ramnagar where no man ventures because of a tyrant goon, sarpanch called Sher Singh (Mahesh Manjrekar) ruling the village. Only he is less goon, more cartoon.  He has a sidekick who is is his 'saala', Narayan Das  (Paresh Rawal. The difference between the two is that Sher Singh has a moustache that goes upwards and Narayan's moustache points downwards. Both love prancing around to music or rather Sajid Khan's horrific tunes, trying to be funny. The idea of humour is limited to dancing in desperation with crabs crawling inside their pants.

Ravi meets his poor mother in a white sari, cooking outside a hut while his pretty and helpless sister carries tattered clothes to stitch. His opening line to them in all seriousness is, "Oh, mujhe laga ki tum log mar chuke ho." Flashbacks show Sher Singh's atrocities and Ravi's own identity in a manner, more predictable than the sun and the moon. There is also a 'hunterwaali',Sher Singh's obnoxious and spoilt daughter,Rekha (Tamannaah Bhatia ) who walks around with a whip and lets loose a tiger to show her own power against Devgn's. Soon,the  two get together, do the famous 'ta thaiya ' dance in front of Sher Singh. You sit back in resignation and admire Tamannah's perfect waist and navel and miss Sridevi's thunder thighs and Jeetendra's sincerity. Meanwhile, the poor, pretty sister goes through gang rape attempts and beatings at the hands of her husband, Narayan's son (Adhyayan Suman)who sounds like a squealing teenager when he tries to be a ferocious baddie.
When the brandishing of whips, showing of muscles, prancing around gets wearisome, they turn to dialogues(Farhad, Sajid) worse than PJs.Sample them..."naha tu raha tha, dhoya maine"...keedon ki basti mein kaun sa aa gaya makoda"...kaan ke neeche baja kar Kanpur pahucha doonga"..

Then there are lyrics (Sameer Anjaan) in keeping with the utter downmarket humour that go like  "..Maar de bum pe laat.." besides the original ones by Indeevar.

None of the actors merit any appreciation except Tamannah Bhatia who can pull of anything with conviction. Leena Jumani as the hapless sister is more tolerable than the rest.Rawal and Manjrekar are disgusting in their attempt at buffoonery. Devgn just chills out,watching the no show.

If all of this is not enough to make you go mad, there is also a supposed spoof on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho with Mahesh Manjrekar in a shower.

As the dialogue before the scene says,"shuru hogi kahani ek Psycho ki". Hitchcock must be turning multiple times in his grave at the moronic horror of psycho humour.

Monday, 25 March 2013


 Can films change the world? ......
Can films change the way you and I see the world? Yes. Salaam Bombay did that when first released in 1988. Now, decades and numerous awards (including a National Award, Camera D'or at 41st Cannes festival) later, producer/director, Mira Nair's first feature film remains as powerful, as contemporary, as relevant and as moving.
Very rarely does a film draw you in, gets you so involved with the characters that by the end, you actually want to reach out and help. Krishna and Manju are two such street children of Bombay in the late eighties.          
The story (Mira Nair, Sooni Taraporevala) and screenplay (Sooni Taraporevala), simply suck you in just like the tricky by lanes of the red light area in Grant Road, Bombay, and just like the inhabitants, you are never free of the glaring harsh reality of street life.
The characters need no introduction the moment their nicknames are called out by each other. Chaipau (Shafiq Syed), the boy who delivers tea from door to door...Sola Saal (Chanda Sharma), the young, Nepali girl being prepared for the first customer to sell her body to...Keeda, the notorious street kid,..Chillam (Raghubir Yadav), the  drug peddler who is doomed and addicted to "the father of all poisons”. The only people who retain their own names are the ones seemingly leading better lives...Baba(Nana Patekar, perfect in soft menace),the retired pimp who looks after the prostitute he has 'saved',Rekha(Aneeta Kanwar, fabulously understated) and their daughter, Manju (Hansa Vithal), who spends nights outside the bedroom door 'scratching' on it while the mother  entertains a customer or Baba.
A circus in a village shuts down, leaving a 10-year-old boy, Krishna, unemployed. He runs away and lands up on the Bombay streets amongst garbage pickers, prostitutes, pimps and drug peddlers. His name and identity is forgotten with his newfound job of delivering tea. He is now called Chaipau. He carefully saves very penny so that he can go back to his mother with Rs 500,the price of a scooter he has destroyed. The garbage guy cum drug peddler, Chillam (Raghubir Yadav)becomes his closest friend. Chaipau spends his time playing with Manju and her mother and secretly helping the pretty 'sola saal' by offering her free chai and sneaking in biscuits to brothel room number 109.
Watch out for the most poignant scene of Manju gulping down a packet of biscuits, all by herself hiding in a  corner....a very fine example of layered writing. This is not just a hungry kid enjoying her biscuits. This is starvation, jealousy and street life of survival battles; eating into the hungry bones of vulnerable hearts and young love.
The film, shot on 52 locations (including railway stations, Kamathipura lanes and graveyards) in 52 days, using street children to play key roles, goes on to capture the raw, vibrant, sometimes cruel, sometimes spirited energy of the city underbelly whose wounds gape open on the dirty streets; unseen or ignored by the rest of the world. The vivid images include street children stealing their moments of fun, dancing to "mera naam chin chin choo.." playing on the radio, staring at Sridevi crooning "hawa hawai" on the big screen, role playing the traffic policeman, riding in a chariot at midnight, stolen samosas tucked inside the rags, drunk on liquor, high on skyscraper dreams. Realistic dialogues (Hriday Lani), a well wielded, very involving camera work(Sandi Sissel),fine, subtle editing (Barry Alexander Brown),L. Subramaniam's music and a masterful, sensitive, almost invisible direction by Nair, all put together makes this film technically worthy of the innumerable awards it has won.
 Every actor slips into the character with ease; right from Shafiq Syed as Chaipau to Hansa Vithal as Manju to Nana Patekar to Aneeta Kanwar to Raghubir Yadav. Shafiq ,breathes in life as well as death, especially in the last heart-wrenching frame.
Chaipau's involvement with the tormented lives of Chillam,Sola Saal, Manju and her mother;   provides him his own worldview. At the same time, it also ends up changing your world view as the viewer; which is exactly what Mira Nair set out do. As she says in her foreword in her book, 'Salaam Bombay' .."It did change the world. And it continues to do so for more than 5000 street kids each year who come through our Salaam Balak Trust centres in Bombay and Delhi."
So yes, films can change the world. Salaam Mira Nair. Salaam Sooni Taraporevala. Thank you, PVR for rescreening 'Salaam Bombay'.

Friday, 22 March 2013


"Ssssona Ssspa.yehan aap neend kharid sakte hain..neend nahin aane ke kayi kaaran hai,kaam , tension, bimari..yehan ladkiyan aapke saath nahin, aapke liye soyengi..sleep workers.." This is Seattle based Baba Dayanand(Naseeruddin Shah) who appears for a few seconds, probably three times, seated on a throne like chair.Like all babas,he disappears, letting Sona Spa and its people take over. So be warned, Naseeruddin Shah, plays less than a cameo here.His video is seen streaming inside Sona Spa, the voice playing like a sonorous mantra.

Written and directed by Makrand Deshpande(a popular name in Hindi theatre, also known for indulgent plays)  Sona Spa starts off with a Sci fi feel in its concept and treatment and spins off into totally unbelievable zones. Rucha is a young girl concerned and upset with her rich dad who spends every night at dance bars since he cannot sleep. Ritu has a sister who wants to break her engagement and gets nightmares, which keep her awake. She also has a father who is in a coma. The girls meet at Sona Spa. Besides sleeping for their own kin, they also sleep for other clients. Only it is not as easy as that. When they sleep, they access the clients' frightening dreams, which end up disturbing them. Rucha's client is a wealthy and obnoxious married man, Choksi, with three mistresses. Ritu's client is a corrupt cop who thrives on pimps and prostitutes' earnings. One of the prostitutes, Meenakshi ,has moved on from being a sex worker to a sleep worker. Much to every client's surprise, the moment the girls start sleeping for them, their problems and issues get miraculously resolved. Their own personalities change.

It is this whole philosophy of the internal cleansing and a deep change within from the subconscious, played out through these  characters; which might have made Sona Spa  interesting. However, the characters themselves are more bizarre than real. If there is something fantastical about Sona Spa, the portrayal of the girls, their personal stories and their clients' lives is also far removed from reality.
The treatment, abrupt and badly shot scenes, overwritten lines and bizarre plot makes Sona Spa more like an amateurish long-short film from a film school, full of pop psychology.
The actors are below average. The only one who stands out with her confidence and screen presence is Nivedita Bhattacharya as the poetic and spunky ex prostitute.
Sona Spa, remains as vague as a dream and as unsatisfying as a bad night's sleep. Assign it to Makrand Deshpande's indulgent pipe dream..pun intended.


The ghost dressed in a clean, white full sleeved shirt, walks ever so casually, leans over with a gentle, affectionate, angelic smile, holds his little girl's tiny hand and tells her softly, "main tumhe lene aaya hoon”. Horror of horrors, the little girl smiles back happily at her darling, adorable papa, not knowing he is dead.

Aatma is admirably slick but the shadows fail to scare. Every frame  is brilliantly lit, the camera follows the actors like a silent, smooth shadow, the sound and silence well used without overloud effects. The lines(Sudarshana Dwivedi,Suparn Verma) are minimal, the story has sufficient, but unexplored appeal, the screenplay and the edit, just tight enough not to bore you. The effort by writer/director, Suparn Verma shows but unfortunately remains sketchy overall.

The film opens with a video clipping of a little girl, Nia, (Doyel Dhawan) smiling at the camera, a hand on her shoulder is seen and Abhay's (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) voice is heard, talking to her fondly. The girl winces slightly as her hair gets pulled by her mother's(Bipasha Basu) comb. Nawazuddin's voice changes sharply as he reprimands his wife. The underneath violence is apparent. The little girl watches her videos daily and talks to her papa all the time on her toy phone and giggles away happily.

 The hitch is that this is no child's play. This is not schizophrenia either. The father is dead. Having died in a freak accident following a divorce because of his abusive ways, he has returned to take his daughter away to his world. Everyone who bothers his daughter even slightly, be it a little boy in school or a teacher, he makes sure they stop instantly. The scenes at school build up in their horror. The screenplay here is quite predictable. It is the treatment of the scene that makes all the difference. The first half moves pretty swiftly, lags just a wee bit in portions focusing on Bipasha's mother (Shernaz Patel, unconvincing)and comes to an ending made most slick by the edit and cinematography(Sophie Winqvist).

The music does not interfere much with the story. The song that comes up with the end credits has fine lyrics by Kumaar  .."Teri khatir jisme ko choda....."

Nawazuddin Siddiqui is more chilled out than chilling during his brief screen time. Bipasha Basu as the mother protecting her child, is strictly okay. Doyel as Nia is not bad for her age. Amongst the supporting cast, Jaideep Ahlawat as the sympathetic cop is good.

Aatma may not quite haunt you but will impress with its slickness. Only, the fear factor is missing.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


For the nth time, the great Indian Punjabi family comes together but this time with a difference. It makes a song and bhangra around the most popular Indian middle class car, the Maruti. As both the title song and the dad say, "it is not a car, it is a love".

The Maruti car has smoothly made itself a household brand since the 90s. That it can provide fodder and fuel for an entire 2-hour plus film, the Maruti owners could not have possibly imagined.

 Y films, a Yashraj films division catering to the youth segment, which earlier made "Mujhse Fraandship karoge”, continues to work with new talent in MDKM.

 It is wedding time at Khullar House in Chandigarh.  Tej Khullar   (Ram Kapoor) breaks a coconut to celebrate and welcome the latest and snazzy hot red Maruti Ertiga 'gaddi' ,his wedding gift for his daughter and future  son-in-law. His relationship with his son boils down to a holler in his Punjabi da papaji accent,'Oye SMEEra '.

Sameer is the typical Punjabi college going boy who is  constantly absconding from home and being admonished for it. Little does Khullar know that he will have real reason to holler this time. His son, Sameer (Saqib Saleem)decides to steal the precious car for an evening. After all, as his friend, Gattu, (Prabal Panjabi ) says, every man has made the worst mistakes because of a woman. So there is the hottest college girl,"Chandigarh ki Shakira”, Jasleen (Rhea Chakraborty) who picks Sameer to accompany her for an evening. Elated at getting one chance at wooing her, he hops into his dad's red Maruti  and takes the girl out. Soon the dad's new love, the hot Maruti goes missing. What follows is a happy car hunt ride along with silly plans Sameer keeps coming up with, to hoodwink his dad.

Ram Kapoor as the dad who loves his Marutis and his drinks with equal fervour, plays the jovial but strict Khullar well and masters the holler to perfection. The newcomers, Saqib Saleem, Rhea Chakraborty are average. Prabal Panjabi as the friend is a shade better.

Lyrics by Kumaar are entirely in Punjabi. “Mere dad ki Maruti kendi hor ghumna.." set the right tone for the film but gets on the nerves with its Punjabi overdose.

 Ashima Chibbar makes a good debut as director. The story (Neeraj Udhwani)is light with a novel appeal. The screenplay (Neeraj, Pooja Desai,Ashima ) is a little stretched for the subject and the dialogues (Ishita Moitra)are sometimes fun, sometimes forced with smatterings of Punjabi humour.Most characters are well fleshed out, except for one unconvincing garage gangster(Ravi Kishen).

Mere Dad Ki Maruti, remains at best a mildly amusing balle ride. The only hilarious balle balle moment is a dance number performed  by the bride at her own  wedding. Brownie points for the actor and the choreographer.