Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Monday, 20 January 2014


Disclaimer: The story or scenes described here may be totally different from what is intended by the filmmaker. Blame it on the poster tagline which says: The greatest Indian LSD Trip.

Ever seen a film with a 17 year old boy who holds his breath to live, tadpoles, a “frog land” which is a treasure trove of diamonds, a stolen shoe, a gun, pilgrims, Bollywood and Guinea world record dreams, a romance through a  radio request programme, a discussion on a terrace( “samosa waali chat”) about man landing on the moon, Nehru, worldwar, Brahma all thrown in?

Om Dar Ba Dar is a deliberate jigsaw puzzle of nonsense that compels you to continue watching, simply to know exactly what is the trip all about. The film challenges, at times, engrosses and disturbs, with its crazy narrative that breaks all rules of storytelling.

The film has an interesting history. It was directed by FTII graduate, Kamal Swaroop in 1988;premiered in Berlin film festival and is supposed to have gathered a cult status over the years. It has got a commercial release now, thanks to NFDC and PVR Director’s Rare.

The film breaks rules in every possible manner, in story, screenplay, visuals, sound and edit. It is the kind of film where you reach the end and not question ‘what was the story’ in the way you would with a nonsensical, commercial film. But instead, it makes you unravel just what was the storyteller trying to tell through the story?

Here is what has been vaguely understood.
There is an Ajmer based astrologer with a loud pitch voice, Babuji Shankar (LaxmiNarayan Shastri) who predicts that his son (Aditya Lakhia) may not live beyond 17 years. He decides to name him Om because that name does not exist in the list of Yamadev, the God of death. The story follows Om’s growing days in school with a friend who gives up studies to cycle nonstop. Om becomes a part of his sister, Gayatri’s (Gopi Desai) budding romance with Jagdish (Lalit Tiwari), on a radio ‘farmaishi’ programme, one of the high moments in the film in the way it captures radio days in the 80s,particularly a running commentary on the city of Taragarh.

Om’s journey is littered throughout, with random vignettes and humour. Om attends classes on frog dissections where the lecturer calls it Rana Tigrina.He has a hard time concentrating at home as his nose comes in the way of his eyesight. He is also distracted by the fascinating famous actress, Phoolkumari who has come to visit Babuji because he had told Hema Malini that there is an actress in every woman. Phoolkumari, incidentally, has been a porn writer in the past. She stays on with the family until she is blamed for stealing Babuji’s shoe (with diamonds inside, another subplot). Babuji’s frustration with Om drives him to dictate a letter, which says, “please ban googly in cricket and in life in general.”

Om also has a rare gift of being able to hold his breath. This is used in a most absurd and bizaare segment and assorted images of pilgrims and devotees of Lord Brahma in Pushkar, mythology, a stange political movement called “Non Cooperation of Breath” where a 3 minute Pranayam is the mode of protest, documentary footage of Nehru, dream sequences and a thriller involving diamonds.

The film reaches a crescendo with an impending war and a thriller to boot and eventually, on the edge of a cliff with Gayatri and Jagdish chanting “Om Namo Narayan” and abruptly ends with one word: “gobar”.

The film stays with you for different reasons, be it random and strange imagery that simply doesn’t make sense, just like disconnected dreams, which stay but are difficult to fathom. Apparently, Kamal Swaroop is said to have mentioned that he made the film based on his own dreams. The jarring cuts, the rather uneasy on the ears soundtrack and the incomplete and sometimes funny dialogues may seem like a deliberate nonsense at times. To what end is anybody’s guess but it seems to be some sort of a satire on mythology and superstitions, probably as unbelievable and strange as the characters themselves. Or as the poster says, to take you on an acid trip.

The dialogues only add to the bizarreness of it all. Sample these
“Aatankari tadpole mendhak banne se inkar kar diya tha”
 “Rocket kaun udaa raha tha?”… “Roos aur America.”
The songs are the best part of the film, be it “Babloo Babylon se, Babli telephone se” or “Rana Tigrina” or “Meri Jaan A-A-A”, with lyrics by Kuku aka Kamal Awaroop and music by Rajat Dholakia. Amongst the actors, Anita Kanwar as Phoolkumari,is a delight to watch, her voice wickedly gleeful in her voiceovers.

It is best left to you to waddle through Om Dar Ba Dar and decide whether it strikes gold or diamonds in experimental cinema or gobar (cowdung).Or a googly.

Friday, 17 January 2014


The camera follows a cop in a long slow shot of a filthy urinal corridor.

Cut to a tall man and a starkly made up woman undressing, their expressions, matter of fact.
A couple of similar cuts later, the shot is as sleazily erotic as it can get.

 A woman’s legs are seen, thrown up apart, her moans loud. A cameraman bends over her, trying to get as close an angle as possible. Another man, (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), leans in, holding up a flashlight.

The scene cuts again to the cop and a man with a cash filled briefcase in the urinal. The man happens to be Nawaz’s brother.

Miss Lovely, which premiered at 2012 Cannes film festival, is full of such images. The sounds are even more explicit. Especially, the whirl of a film reel being played out in old, dilapidated cinema halls. The dialogues are far and few. The dimly lit, handheld shots, stretch most times. This could have been a documentary on C grade cinema, which is what the director, Ashim Ahluwalia, had set out to make, initially.

C grade films have been part of the history of Indian cinema after the 70s until Internet porn took over. So far, one has only been a witness to seedy posters on building walls in Mumbai. Miss Lovely attempts to expose the murky, unknown world, behind the ‘dirty’ scenes.

Miss Lovely begins with a title soundtrack of the 80s and freezes for a second on a close up of a woman’s red contact lensed eyes. A horror film is playing in a small theatre.The screen goes blank for a few seconds. Audience protest sounds are heard. Soon a woman in red lingerie is seen. The protests are replaced with complete silence.

Sonu Duggal’s (Nawazuddin) voiceover tells us how he regrets having sold that first print of a blue film for his brother, Vicky (Anil George). He wants to direct a romantic film called Miss Lovely, starring a young, innocent Pinky, he is head over heels in love with. “Tum ek din star banogi ,” he tells her. The oldest promise of tinsel town. The hitch is, his brother also has his dirty eyes on her, for a different reason.  Vicky’s business has just taken off, with his first “bhayankar adult film” titled ‘Beauty Parlour’. In his words the film’s impact will be “do ghante mein do hazaar jhatke”. Dressed in shiny, printed, satin shirts, surrounded by aspiring ‘adult’ film heroines at premiers overflowing with liquor, Vicky is drunk on his newfound power.

The story, here onwards, tries to be a dark and disturbing tale of double cross and disillusionment. However, it fails to hold and is not half as intense as the premise. The focus remains on the making of blue films, half naked bodies, the murky atmosphere, reminiscent of Madhur Bhandarkar’s Chandni Bar. The screenplay stretches and the abrupt editing, takes away any possibility of the viewer’s involvement with the characters.

Nawazuddin tries to be as authentic as possible but somehow, does not make the required impact. Anil George, who plays his brother, is excellent in the way he slips into his character.

The actor to watch out for brilliant versatility is Niharika Singh who plays Miss Lovely. Her best expressions are glimpsed in the only song in the film, which is incidentally a Nazia Hassan song, a delight from the 80s treatment of the film.

The set and costume designs as well as the textured cinematography by Mohanan, are noteworthy in their detailing and authenticity. Another achievement is in Ahluwallia having managed to get the film passed through the censor board.

Miss Lovely, has its flaws but makes up by being a raw, uncomfortable watch and above all, an ugly truth.

Friday, 10 January 2014


When the tapori, hot blooded, Arshad Warsi questions the older, romantic Naseeruddin Shah, in Ishqiya,“ Tumhara ishq, ishq aur hamara ishq, sex” bringing up the age old, quintessential boundaries between love and lust, it seems the dialogues and characterization couldn’t be better. But Dedh Ishqiya is one sequel where a similar sequence defines the seven stages of love with even better lines. “Ishq ke saat mukaam hote hain - dilkash, uns, mohabbat, akeedat, ibaadat aur junoon..”The seventh stage is best unrevealed here.

 The story of two foul mouthed thieves, one old, one young, in the rustic Uttar Pradesh hinterland; willing to die for the same woman whose filthy tongue could make them sound like school boys; brought both the debut director, Abhishek Choubey and the sexy Vidya Balan to notice in Ishqiya.

Dedh Ishqiya continues in the same vein, this time with two women, the gorgeous,Madhuri Dixit Nene and the voluptuous Huma Qureshi who made quite a splash with Gangs of Wasseypur.

Dedh Ishqiya stays true to its prequel in every way but has its downside too. There is (Babban)Arshad as usual in trouble, standing in his own half dug grave, narrating a joke desperately to save his life. His missing partner and rascal of an uncle,Khalu (Naseer) meanwhile, who has turned poet and set his heart on wooing and winning over the beautiful Begum Para(Madhuri) with his poetry and shayari. He has a tough rival: Vijay Raaz,the “nakli nawab” who makes the kidnapped real nawab (Manoj Pahwa),  write poetry at gun point so that he can impress the beautiful begum. Begum’s closest confidante, Huma, has devious plans up her Lucknowi sleeves, for which she seduces the ever-willing Arshad. Watch out for wonderful use of torchlight in a dark and dusty library.

Though Madhuri is well cast here as the aging and widowed Begum in search of a Nawaab, as compared to her previous debacle, Aaja Nachle, her character and performance don’t move beyond her lustrous beauty. The crackling chemistry that both Naseer and Arshad had with Vidya, is lacking here, both with Madhuri and Huma.

However, the rest of the film revolving around the love hate relationship between Naseer and Arshad and new characters, Vijay Raaz and Manoj Pahwa; more than make up for the film’s minor flaws in the second half. Producer, and writer, Vishal Bhardawaj’s dialogues and  two most amusing scenes involving Vijay Raaz, take the otherwise predictable story two notches up. One scene involves Naseeruddin, Arshad and Vijay Raaz and a bunch of goons standing fixed, aiming guns at each other throughout the night. Watch the film just to see how this scene ends and have your best laugh out loud moment. Another scene brilliantly enacted by  Vijay Raaz and Manoj Pahwa, is a hilarious take on Nawaabs, Sonia Gandhi’s Italian connection and the meaning of DNA.

The poetry, the music and the lyrics bring alive the old world charm of Nawaabi gatherings and romantic era gone by. Gulzaar’s words, Rekha Bhardwaj’s lilting voice,Vishal’s music and Madhuri’s dance to Begum Akhtar’s thumri “….dekha dekhi tanik ho jaaye..hamari atarya pe…” are a cinematic  treat for the ears and the eyes.

Arshad is at his best, both in his comic sense of timing and as a confused lover, especially when he delivers the lines..” Aaj zindagi mei pehli baar tai nahi kar paa raha hoon ki kya de raha hoon aur kya le raha hoon.”

Naseeruddin is great but overshadowed by the inimitable Vijay Raaz. Manoj Pahwa deserves a special mention for the best comic timing.

 Dedh Ishqiya charms in most parts, with its naughty humour, rich Urdu poetry and comraderie both amongst the men and the women.

Friday, 3 January 2014

Mr Joe B Carvalho: Lollypop Humour

Lollypop, strangely, has always been a filmmaker’s, favourite resort to corny and not so funny comedy. But, surprise, surprise, it is the lollypop in Mr Joe B Carvalho, which makes the most interesting debut at its slurpy best. All thanks to Javed Jaffrey and the writing by Mahesh Ramchandani. However, too soon, the humour goes dry and so does the film.

The premise holds some promise in the characters. The talented but unrecognized Arshad Warsi as a failure of a detective who loves his blind mom; the petite and charming Soha Ali Khan as a ‘dabangg’ cop who looks equally hot in a police uniform as well as a blue itsy bitsy bikini; and Javed Jaffery who is on a killing spree, dressed in a saree and a lollipop in his mouth.

The film, however, does not live up to its promise of comical detective caper. The story starts off well but goes into predictable zones, killing every effort at entertainment.

Joe Carvalho (Arshad) is hired by a rich dad (Shakti Kapoor) to follow his daughter who has apparently run away with an old bawarchi. Meanwhile, a killer, Carlos (Javed) is also hired by a jilted lover, to kill the daughter. Soha, the cop, is on a mission to catch Carlos. A comedy of errors follows as everyone mistakes Carvalho for Carlos. Caught between Soha’s furious gun (they also have a past together), Carlos’s knives and another bunch of goons, Carvalho ends up lost in his quest for the missing bride to be.

The characters with their quirks, extremely well played by each, could have been sufficient to drive the screenplay. But the cheesy lines simply fall flat at times, taking away the situational humour. Lines like “maut, potty aur Carlos kahin bhi aur kabhi bhi aa sakte hain” and such attempts at forced humour fail to provide any laughter.

Despite the flaws, there are a few upsides in the most unlikely areas, mainly Javed’s characterization. Javed’s lollypop has an interesting variation. He portrays a hilarious schizophrenic who has mental conversations with his mom, ‘Lolly’, and dad, ‘Pop’. ‘Lolly’ and ‘Pop’ keep having small, funny arguments in Javed’s mind, which he enacts with wonderful perfection.

If Javed’s acting takes the lollypop, it is the lyrics that take the cake in trite humour. Two songs in particular are actually fun in their silliness: Virag Misra’s “...Ringa Ringa Roses….” and Amitabh Bhattacharya’s lyrics in “Chumma Chaati …I love Saiyaan ji ki late night party... I hate, hate ...hate, hate Chumma Chaati.” (Watch out for Soha dressed in a cute number, doing a cabaret).

Debutante, Samir Tewari displays a fair amount of potential as director even though he fails to entertain in this film. Vijay Raaz could have been utilized better in his role. Himani Shivpuri and Ranjit are at their hamming best.

Arshad as always is charming in his over sincerity. Incidentally, his excellent dancing skills are also on display. After all, he started his career as dancer and choreographer way back in the 90s.

Javed Jaffrey is more than one up on his dad, Jagdeep’s comedy and timing. Soha Ali Khan is simply delightful in her bold new avatar of having fun beating up goons, turning into a cabaret dancer and smoothly slipping into a bikini.

Boring in most parts, watch the film only for Javed Jaffrey’s mono act involving ‘lolly’ and ‘pop’ and Soha Ali in electric blue bikini.