Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 26 April 2013


 When Mahesh Bhatt made Aashiqui in 1990, starring newcomers, Rahul Roy and Anu Aggarwal, the film did strike a chord. So much so that Roy's pathetic acting was tolerable, more so with some really nice, hummable songs and Anu's most striking presence. It was the chord of honesty and innocence, apparently drawn from Bhatt's own life . Besides entertaining generally with a decent love story, the film made a mild feminist statement, as was Bhatt's forte.

Aashiqui 2 has a similar theme of boy mentoring the girl leading her to fame and success but gets stuck somewhere between Bhatt's 'Daddy' and 'Sur'. There are some stray glimpses of Rockstar too. The writing (Shagufta Rafique), a  strange mix of some new thinking and some old fashioned, clichéd,repetitive scenes, ends up simply lazy.

The film opens with the most deafening soundtrack. RJ aka Rahul Jaikar (Aditya Roy Kapur)is performing on stage amidst loud, hysterical cheers. Every now and then, he swigs a drink. Someone splashes water on his face. He stops singing and jumps off stage in a fit of rage. Soon, he leaves the show and drives off, drunk. His swanky car almost hits a pretty girl, Aarohi (Shraddha Kapoor) carrying a bag of vegetables. The girl moans over lost tomatoes and 80 odd Rupees. He goes on his knees to retrieve the squashed tomatoes. The pretty girl tilts her head, impressed.

So, it does not matter that no one walks around late at night, carrying vegetables. Neither do any explanations matter as to why RJ drinks throughout, why he has given up on his career and why  the culprit appears only twice in the story to provoke RJ.RJ is filthy rich, fairly successful and has a concerned dad who regularly calls him from New York. He has everything going for him, yet he drinks compulsively, hangs around depressed or angry.

To add to the cliché of car collisions and drunken brawls,  the girl sings at a bar but has a golden voice. The rich and famous alcoholic hears the poor girl's golden, 'nightingale' voice and makes it his mission to give her a break. So begins the story of a mentor or 'Sur' and moves from one clichéd scene to another. There is no subtext and no imagination.

What could have been an interesting take on alcoholism as a challenge to relationships, dwindles into a meaningless and uninnovative music video. The good part is that the film does not get into old "Abhimaan" jealousy routine and instead sticks to RJ's alcoholic ways independent of his love story.

The performances lift the film ever so slightly. There is some amount of earnestness in Aditya Roy Kapur but he is most unconvincing in his drinking. Shraddha Kapoor is extremely pretty(with glimpses of her aunt, Padmini Kolhapure) but does not extend herself enough to energize any single moment. Mahesh Thakur as the 'uncle' who runs a music company, is a welcome change from the regular faces on screen.

The music, usually a stronghold in Bhatt or Bhushan Kumar films (co-producers), disappoints big time. There is nothing that matches the old hit.. 'saanson ki zaroorat hai jaise...aashiqui ke liye..'

It's difficult to fall in love with Aashiqui 2.But the stunning Shraddha Kapoor might win some hearts. As did Anu Aggarwal, once upon a love story time.

Friday, 19 April 2013


Once a man sleeps with a 'daayan', he will never look at another woman again. A psychotherapist's grandmother told him once. This, of course, is on a light note. In the real version, with a strength that lies in her long,thick plait, she can be either scary or bewitchingly fascinating. Ek Thi Daayan falls in the latter category.

When you have three talented actresses and a film based on a gripping enough short story (Mukul Sharma), there is sufficient reason to keep you interested. But when the narrative catches you by the choti' in the first half but loosens the grip in the second half, it ends up killing its own potential.

The ingredients are all there. A wicked stepmom, frightened, innocent children, creepy lizards and witches.

The locale as in most horror films , is an old house in a dilapidated building where the lift does not work. This backdrop with the fabulous use of music and dim lighting, creates just the right mood of fear and mystery.

 Bobo (Emraan Hashmi) is a popular magician. He and his girlfriend, Tamara (Huma Qureshi  ) plan to adopt a little boy, Zuben. Bobo's last few magic shows are marred by some childhood experiences haunting him. He visits a therapist who helps him recall some horrifying incidents.

As a child, he comes across an old book on witches and finds a way to hell through his own building lift. His secret  fascination with the lift makes him highly suspicious of his new enchanting neighbour, Diana (Konkana Sen Sharma) who emerges from the lift out of nowhere. His widower father (Pawan Malhotra) is enamoured by her, much to Bobo's distress. Diana soon makes her way into their little nest as  his stepmom.

What follows is a very well made, taut and spooky buildup into an unbelievable world of witches. The entire childhood sequence has the right tone and tenor of wild imagination and terrifying, mysterious encounters. However, the screenplay (Mukul Sharma and Vishaal Bhardwaj),loses the sense of conviction as soon as it comes to Bobo's present.

Emraan Hashmi as the central character trapped amongst the 'daayans', suitably underplays the role. Konkona is simply brilliant in her portrayal of the proverbial stepmom who is both kind and mysteriously evil at once. Her dialogue delivery and expression can chill yet charm, especially when she says to the little girl, " I could just EAT you up."

 Huma Qureshi looks gorgeous and fits her part, somewhat weakened by the script. Kalki Koechlin, besides a dazzling smile, displays a very pleasant and vibrant screen presence.
Vishesh Tiwari, the child actor who plays Emraan, steals the show with his totally convincing performance.

Saurabh Goswami's cinematography along with the art department, plays an equally strong role in making the film sufficiently spooky. Gulzaar's lyrics matches Bhardwaj's melodious music throughout, especially in the songs 'Yaaram' and Rekha Bhardwaj's hauntingly rendered 'lautungi main tere liye'.

Kannan Iyer's debut direction is impressive enough but doesn't quite succeed in spooking you out despite the use of lifts, lizards, ‘witchy' sound effects and the lunar eclipse. However, the use of real characters in real life moments, adds more to the chill factor. Vishaal Bhardwaj's mastery at recreating childhood fears is apparent in the first half of the screenplay.

Ek Thi Daayan bewitches, but in parts. Long plaits, however, may not quite look the same again.

Saturday, 13 April 2013


Some films work because of the story, some because of the hero or the star, some purely because of the action. Commando works, if at all; it is because of the villain. Sorry,Vidyut fans.

The villain has two song and dance sequences. He also has a pretty defined character. For instance, he plays 'Angry Birds' on his phone and reads out Santa Banta jokes to his victims before he kills them. He is called AK 74 because he is 'deadly' and he is born in '74.The best part-he is in love with the heroine. So much so that he is not interested in just kidnapping her or raping her. He wants to marry her and enjoy his 'suhaagraat'. He expresses this with a gleeful shake of the head every time she lashes out at him in fury. His strange, 'white' eyes, do little to scare the feisty Punjabi kudi, Simrit(Pooja Chopra)who runs into the hero's beefy arms and begs, rather unconvincingly, ‘save me'.

The hero, a Commando with the Indian Army, Karanvir Dogra (Vidyut Jamwal) has just escaped from a year of torture in a prison in China, having been wrongly labeled an Indian spy. The Indian Government, instead of rescuing him, decides to get rid of him 'for the sake' of the country. Karan decides to fight the political system by first fighting the local goons. He gets the opportunity when the heroine falls into his trunk biceps, while running from AK (Jaideep Ahlawat).

The entire film rests on this completely baseless and skinny plot. Commando boils down to one lengthy action sequence of the villain chasing the hero and heroine in the jungle.

Kudos to the director, Dilip Ghosh, for putting together a few jokes and a few fist fights into an entire film. Cinematography by Sejal Shah helps a little. Vivid sights of the green jungles of Himachal Pradesh, provide some break from high jumps and flying legs.

Vidyut Jamwal looks his part, with his beefy biceps. But there is very little scope in the script for him to show any acting muscle. Vidyut himself does the stunts, mid air splits and somersaults. That includes a neat 'jump-fly' through a car window too. Somewhat impressive.

Jaideep Ahlawat who has shown sufficient promise in his last film, Aatma, does a fair amount of justice to the meaty role of AK74. Pooja Chopra screeches now and then.

 Average lyrics by Mayur Puri to an equally average music, doesn't help the film, except for "saawan bairi".

Commando remains just a title. Watch if you must for muscle display, jungle chase, heroic stunts and SMS jokes.

Friday, 12 April 2013


There is a scene in Nautanki Saala when the perfect evening plan has just gone wrong. Only one of them is aware of the fact. The second is too preoccupied with his disastrous performance as Ram on stage. When told, it was fine; he asks which was the best scene. The former, still recovering from his secret plan wreck, replies, "Interval." The two sip their wine in silence, their expressions perfect. The camera pulls back gently, with soft music defining the mood of the rest of the film.

Rohan Sippy's film is full of such simple, light, breezy moments that make you smile, chuckle and even clap at times. After making a thriller like 'Dum Maaro Dum' last, Sippy displays surprising panache for subtle humor and aesthetics. There are plenty of credits here. The film is based on a French play, ‘Après Vous' written by Pierre Salvadori and Benoit Graffin. The screenplay and dialogues by Nipun Dharmadhikari, Charudutt Acharya and Rohan Sippy make the film exceptionally funny and entertaining despite an unconvincing premise and predictable story.

Ram Parmar (Ayushmann Khurrana) is a stage actor and director whose life revolves around theatre where requires him to dramatize everything. The same works for his personal life too until he meets a man more dramatic than him, about to hang himself from a tree. Mandar Lele ( Kunaal Roy Kapur )takes every setback so seriously that he wants to either die or simply drink. All for a girl called Nandini Patel (Pooja Salvi).

 Ram, who 'likes to play God' and help every soul in sight, forces Mandar to play Ram in his play Ravan Leela in which he plays Ravan. Little does he know that in the process of helping his newfound buddy, he will end up falling for Ram's real life Sita aka Nandini .

This old story of stealing your best friend's girl finds a charming and fresh treatment through the characters of Ram, Mandar and the 'bromance' between the two. Most of the scenes are kept simple, flow smoothly though a bit too easily and without much conflict. The humour rests on flawless performances enhanced by skillful direction, like a balcony scene where Ram and his girlfriend, Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca) react to a 'marriage proposal' with their hands on their mouth, for completely different reasons. Or the scene when Mandar gives his audition and ends up rendering a totally hilarious raga of sorts to an unintentional orchestration by the producer. The film is full of moments like these including one where both Ram and Mandar are drinking over the loss of the same girl, but unknown to Mandar.

Besides the comic moments between the friends, the romance is as sweet and fresh as the flowers the lead lady sells in the film. Here, Ayushmann simply steals the scene with a steamy, long kiss that makes Emraan Hashmi seem a novice.

Manoj Lobo's cinematography  especially the way it captures the theatre setup with its curtains and glorious costumes in well lit green rooms, along Aarif Sheikh's smooth edit makes the film a pleasure to watch.
 Kausar Munir's lyrics for 'dramebaaz' are light  and situational. A lovely sequence involving the two friends climbing the girl's balcony, is made doubly funny because of a wonderful remix track(Mikey McCleary) of 'dhak dhak karne laga' playing in the background. Full marks to Rohan Sippy's sense of aesthetics.

  Ayushmann Khurrana comes across as effortless and smooth in his comic timing and expressions. His charm is reminiscent of Shah Rukh Khan in his early days. Kunaal Roy Kapur is good but fails to match upto what Deven Verma does with Sanjeev Kumar in Angoor,  considering his role demands that kind of rapport.  Both the girls, Gaelyn Mendonca and Pooja Salvi are competent but lack anything special. A cameo by Abhishek Bachchan does not add any value.

Nautanki Saala, provides little drama yet is a delightful little film guaranteed to provide lots of chuckles. Besides, there is Ayushmann's memorable, sweet kiss. 

Friday, 5 April 2013


Two strangers sit in awkward silence. She, prim in a neatly draped saree and he, unshaved in unkempt kurta. They stare at the soapy, bubbled water in a bucket in front of them. Their eyes meet and move away. To break the silence, he quickly picks up a packet of  detergent powder, and states the obvious, “Chamko."
She responds mechanically, " kapdo ke liye behtareen sabun, baar baar lagataar, Chamko kapdo mein chakachaundh chamak lane ke liye.."
He joins in,"khushbudaar, jhaagwala Chamko"     
This is the most hilarious scene of two people attracted to each other and trying to connect the best way they know. A detergent powder helps break the ice and how! This became an iconic moment of the film Chashme Buddoor, written and directed by Sai Paranjpye in 1981.
This small charming romantic comedy warms our heart for reasons other than the story. The story is simple but as fresh as a clean towel washed with Chamko powder. It is the detailing in their absolutely ordinary, daily lives that makes this film very special.
Three young, unemployed men: Siddharth,Omi and Jomu share a room in Bombay. They live on numerous packets of shared cigarettes. This is the only source of their joy in their humdrum life in a four wall room covered with posters of half naked women, a fantasy shared by two of them, Omi (Rakesh Bedi,)and Jomu(Ravi Baswani,hilarious debut.Siddharth (Farroque Sheikh) is the other extreme. He has a few pictures of Gandhi on 'his' wall'. The only time he displays passion is when he talks about reading Economics books with the enthusiasm of a James Hadley Chase fan.
When the three run out of cigarettes, they share leftover cigarette butts. The local supplier, Lallan Mia (Saeed Jaffery, irrepressible)has a roadside store with the once common slogan written on it, "Relax! Have a Charminaar.".The friends are a bit too relaxed about paying their unpaid bills piled over months. Every time Lallan Mia demands payment, they sweet-talk him into bumming off more cigarette packets out of him. The exchange over their mounting debts also reflects bonding, humour and warmth; a reflection of Sai Paranjpye's amazing treatment of her characters and screenplay.
 Lallan Mia's  constant demands for payment sounds more like a doting dad willing to let go. A small moment between Lallan Mia and Siddharth reveals our hero's secret. He hopes that some day he will meet a girl who will ask him to stop smoking. That will be his last cigarette.
In contrast,Omi and Jomu spend all their time loafing around on a bike, looking for girls.."shikaar", whistling at them, thinking of ways of wooing them with lost handkerchieves and failing at it. There couldn't be worse losers than them. Yet, Paranjpye shows them in such a way that they come across as innocent and harmless and totally likeable even when they try to ruin their friend's budding romance in a fit of jealousy.
It is this slow transportation into the world of these friends, the gentle romance between  Siddharth and Neha (Deepti Naval) over coffee and Tutti Frutty icecream; an old ,loving grandmother(Leela Misra) struggling up the stairs to the untidy bachelors' pad, staring at poster pinups, picking up Playboy magazine accidentally and simply saying, "Bhagwaan ki ek tasveer to laga lete";the simple and honest conversations that tug at the heart and make you laugh at the same.
The simplicity of the script is topped by brilliant performances by each and everyone makes this a movie a memorable experience. That includes the waiter who serves coffee to the two lovers and also heralds the interval in way that leaves you chuckling. Deepti Naval who looks simply divine in her debut film, is forever etched as Ms Charming Chamko.
Music and lyrics continue to tell the story instead of interrupting it. The motorbike  for which Neha always waits, is lovingly used in a song "kaali ghodi dwaar khadi" by lyricist,Indu Jain.
Watch the digitally restored Chashme Buddoor for this beautiful blend of Charminaar and Tutii Fruity, a flavour of friendship, romance and comedy that stays and lingers forever. Chamko is the cherry on top.


Love and friendship just got redefined with a high-pitched, frenzied, double dose (read David Dhawan) loud humour.

Love is "When you can't change the girl, chaaiinge the girl"......"Puppy love choro.De de pappi."

Friendship is "har ek friend kamina hota hai”. Or "pyaar agar pant hai, to dosti chaddi hai.Buddies, you are my chaddies."

Dialogues(Farhad-Sajid) like these sum up this typical David Dhawan remake of Sai Paranjpye's 1981 classic, ‘Chashme Buddoor'. The story is the same. The humour is cheesy, the actors are acrobatic ,the screenplay (Renuka Kunzru)amateurish.
The original story had all the makings of a lovely, charming comedy. Three friends, eye the next-door good girl. Two of them who are good for nothing lechers ,fail at their miserable attempts to get her. Instead the good boy gets her. Now, the other two try their best to ruin the budding romance. David Dhawan brings his own brand of 'Hero No 1' humour that entails meaningless romping and dancing,; to the story and  gives it an over the top treatment aimed at the youth, clearly with an eye on the box office.

So we have characters, each louder than the other .Jai (Siddharth) aspires to be an actor and is capable of almost molesting an actress during an audition in order to be believable.          
 Omi  ( Divyendu Sharma)  only talks in tawdry shayari.The opening one goes like this, "Kashmir na koi de sakta hai, na koi le sakta hai,Kashmir mein sirf teen din, do raat ka honeymoon package ho sakta hai."
Sid (Ali Zafar)is the good man who talks from the heart. The first two are always upto mischief and fun (more school boyish and silly) while Sid obeys mom-on-the-phone and goes to meet a girl, Seema, for an arranged match. He ends up falling in love with another Seema (Tapsee Pannu)  over a coffee and sandwich; the most ridiculous scene in the film. Seema is far removed from the original, innocent, sweet next-door girl. She sports a tattoo on her lower back ,runs away often from her army man dad and exclaims "dum hai, boss" every time she is impressed with Sid. Mr Dhawan probably does not question why anyone would spoil his or her friendship for her.
If the three men and their juvenile antics are not enough to bring in the laughs, there is Seema's dad and chacha (Anupam Kher in double role) who gets slapped around every second by his mother. How's that for slapstick humour, literally? A subplot involving the boys' landlady , Josephine (Lillette Dubey,)with the local cafe owner, Joseph (Rishi Kapoor) includes the use of the famous detergent powder, ‘Chamko' from the original film. This is certainly not half as charming as Deepti Naval's beaming face as she holds up the packet of 'Chamko" saying...'baar baar,lagataar'.

Sajid Wajid's loud  music moves with movie's frenzied tone and lyrics(Kausar Munir) like "har ek friend kamina hota hai' are situational.

All three actors,Siddharth,Ali and Divyendu are equally good. Their  terrific energy lifts the film way above cheesy lines. Tapsee is sweet but does nothing that stays with you. Rishi Kapoor and Anupam Kher come across as more juvenile than the young cast.Lillette Dubey looks great and is controlled despite her over the top character.

David Dhawan's Chashme Baddoor, works only because of the three actors. To enjoy the real charm and humour, watch the original.