Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Saturday, 22 March 2014


Ankhon Dekhi is a simple film centred around a complex character. The simpler part works better at the apparent story level, the other is an overdose of talking, questioning and heavy duty, not too subtle philosophising.

The story is a slice of life portrayal of a pyjama clad common man who turns out to be the most uncommon man on the street. At one point he is seen holding up a placard that says: “Sab kuch yehin hai,aankhen khol kar dekho”. Something like the man we see in Mumbai at Juhu signal.

Likewise the film has an interesting treatment that outwardly maintains a setting and a world you see day in and day out. An overcrowded, small house in Old Delhi, where a joint family of two brothers and their grown up children live with with their everyday problems. The gentle, easy going narrative draws you into the family so well that you almost experience what the main character, calls his own life experience. There is no effort to over dramatise the story or rush the screenplay. It helps that the smooth camera work ( Rafey Mehmood ) and the production design (Meenal Aggarwal) lend an authenticity to the detailing of a simple household.

We see a close-knit family living together, fighting with each other and for each other. Middle-aged Bauji (Sanjay Mishra) has a daughter, Rita, who is seeing an unworthy lad; Ajju. Bauji’s wife (Seema Pahwa) and brother (Rajat Kapoor) are deeply upset and against the idea of letting Rita marry anyone who has no family credentials. The chaos in the house leads to an almost comic situation where Bauji’s entire kith and kin land up at poor Ajju’s house to beat him up.

We get a first glimpse into Bauji’s mild mannered approach to an otherwise potentially violent situation. We see along wih Bauji that Ajju is not so bad after all; leave alone dangerous for Rita, as he is made out to be.

This unlikely incident is a huge eye-opener for Bauji, literally. A rebellion of sorts takes over Bauji’s mind. He refuses to accept anything that he has not seen before with his own eyes; be it the notion whether a tiger growls or barks or whether the bath water feels cold or warm. He goes on to stretch his new found ‘aankhon dekhi’ life philosophy so far that it affects his relationship with his brother adversely. It is this part of the story that feels true to the emotions, more so, with a strong performance by writer- director-actor, Rajat Kapoor.
So far so good.

However, it is the very character of Bauji that keeps getting hammered in throughout the script, which gets tiresome and irritating after a while. His eccentricities and idiosyncracies, sudden changes from talking too much to going off on silent wars to gathering a fan following only to suddenly dismiss and disown everyone, amount to a character overkill. The background score is more of an intrusion at times. At one point, there is a random and unnecessary scene that shows a young boy talking non-stop for a couple of days. The silence that follows is a relief.The talk heavy and character crowded script gives the film a theatrical feel which jars now and then.

Yet, there are other moments, more in keeping with the apparent storyline that bring more credibility. Like the brief awkward moment the two brothers have when eating from separate roadside food stalls or when Bauji designs and redesigns his daughter’s wedding card only to end up upsetting her further.

Amongst the actors, Taranjeet as Kapoor’s wife and Maya Sarao as Bauji’s daughter, suit their parts to the hilt.

Overall, Ankhon Dekhi is like Bauji. Loving, quirky yet flawed and unsettling.

Friday, 21 March 2014


Screams Sunny Leone in a black garter set, tied to a chair.

This is a scene designed to work in one of the two “horex” ways. According to a character in Ragini MMS 2, a ‘horex’ film will either make a man want to run to his mother or want sex.

So, either it should titillate because that’s Sunny porn Leone screaming F words. Or it should horrify and scare you into choking on your popcorn. Because that is actually a ghost inside Leone, straining and struggling and writhing and growling on that chair. And it is no ordinary ghost. It is the chudail who killed Ragini’s lover in Ragini MMS and ‘possessed’ Ragini.
The same ghost is back. But this time it does not have the ‘horex’ effect Ragini MMS had. Despite the very sexy Leone and the title Ragini.

The original had worked decently enough, thanks to Ekta Kapoor’s genius of capitalizing on a true MMS scandal and the acting prowess of Rajkummar Rao.Pink handcuffs provided both some horror and humour too.
The sequel begins with a naked Sunny in a bathtub. She has just been introduced as playing herself in an upcoming film, Ragini MMS 2.The director, Rocks (Pravin Dabas, clichĂ©d) announces that the hitherto pornstar “Sunny saare film stars ki chutti kar degi”. So Sunny does the usual item number (catchy music) and definitely proves that she can give the hottest actresses a run for their underwear. When scared by spooky noises in the haunted house, she walks around in lovely lacy undies. When challenged to show her acting abilities, she moans and moves against a bed pole and enacts an orgasm to show how that requires some talent too.
Credit given, of course.

When she questions innocently, why all men think from their pants when it comes to her, the hero (Saahil Prem) of course, says, not all men. He is the writer who has scripted her film.

Sunny is pitted against some dim wits. There is her costar, (Karan Mehra, quite funny) who lusts after her. There is the silly wannabe (a very talented Sandhya Mridul) who screams variations of ‘bachao’ in the best possible way, moving effortlessly to ‘acting’acting to realistic acting. Her much publicized kiss with Leone is conducted with as much ease and as little sleaze. Ms Mridul has long deserved better than the leads and this time she makes the most of it.

There is also Divya Dutta who has the least embarrassing and the more conventional role of a psychiatrist who does unbelievable things like appearing in short dresses in a hospital and exorcising ghosts. She carries it off with aplomb.

As for the rest of the film, the typical sound effects, Marathi mumbles, flickering bulbs, sound of children crying, a wooden rattle and Ragini of Ragini MMS in a mental asylum; are supposed to give the spooks and the goose bumps. They simply drag, instead.

The song, “Chaar bottle vodka…”might give the youngsters some high moments on a dance floor.

Ragini MMS 2 leaves behind the much better original and is all about the luscious Sunny Leone. For that, there is always the Internet.
For horror or even ‘horex’, there is always one and only master. 
Alfred Hitchcock.

Saturday, 15 March 2014


A stunningly shot interval point of Bewakoofiyaan is so good that it actually saves the rest of the film from being dismissed totally as a Yashraj popcorn entertainment.

Post interval, the film fails to live up to the promise of what could have been a meaningful and entertaining take on yuppy life of  malls and credit card relationships.

Yet, the film attracts for many reasons. Firstly, it’s writer, Habib Faisal. He has written some original and fine work like ‘Do Dooni Chaar”,”Band Baaza Baraat” and “Ishaqzaade”. It is no surprise then that Bewakoofiyan has a relevant and good storyline revolving around unemployment.

Secondly, the director, Nupur Asthana, who made her foray into direction with the popular series,  ”Hip Hip Hooray”, has made a fairly successful Yashraj produced film, Mujhse Fraandship Karoge”.

Thirdly, the pairing of Sonam Kapoor and Ayushmaan Khurrana is quite charming in the promos.

However, it is the pairing of Rishi Kapoor and Ayushmann, which ends up dominating the major part of the film. This is fun at times but tiresome when it gets repetitive.

The premise is fairly common. Mohit and Maira are in love. They enjoy the good life, comparing their credit card limits every time they make progress at work. But Maira’s dad, Sehgal (Rishi Kapoor) is tired of living the ordinary life of a Safari suit clad bureaucrat. Mohit’s salary is not good enough for his daughter Maira’s lifestyle. To make matters worse, Mohit loses his job. Along with his credit cards, he risks losing Maira more than ever. The two decide to fool Mr. uncool ‘Osama’ until Mohit gets another job.

This is where the primary hitch lies. The film sets out to explore the changing dynamics of the good lifestyle seeker Maira and the unemployed Mohit. But instead it settles on a caricaturish Kapoor and Ayushmann playing squash and hide and seek at Ayushmann’s office or Kapoor’s home.

Sonam Kapoor in a bikini, is a nice change from her usual self. She has improved in the acting department too but dithers in crucial moments.

Rishi Kapoor seems to be a Habib Faisal favourite. So much so that his role is overstretched. His tyrant of a dad,’Osama’ act is mostly loud and over the top.

Raghu Dixit’s music, especially the title song and Ayushmann’s performance full of comic and poignant variations, make Bewakoofiyan a charming watch.

Friday, 7 March 2014


When the original Gulabi Gang leader, Sampat Pal took Anubhav Sinha’s film, Gulaab Gang to court, the makers said  that the film is not based on her. That’s quite true. Only the title is similar minus an ‘I’. Plus the pink saree is a 6-yard sham.

Rest is Bollywood bunkum as unbelievable as a politician’s election speech.

The film is a disgusting mish mash of pink sarees, awkward fight scenes with warrior women using laathi, sickles and axes, loud, dramatic dialoguebaazi cashing in shamelessly on to two yesteryear, ravishing Yash Chopra heroines.

When Rajjo(Madhuri Dixit) was a little girl, nothing could drag her away from the Madhopur village school and her books. Not even her mother’s relentless beatings. She grows up to be a leader of a gang of women who fight for the helpless. These include a victim of domestic violence (Tannishta Chatterjee, suitably natural) who is converted into becoming a ‘gulaabi’.
When the village collector shuts down the electricity until he is paid a bribe, the gang of women round up his office and lock him up inside until the electricity is back. It is another matter that Rajjo is not shown as Rajjo, the feisty and crude gang leader but as the sexy and sometimes  dignified Madhuri Dixit who dances around bonfires in a pink cotton sari and low back blouse with her gang of manicured women. Even when she teaches school kids, they want to recite ek do teen, to which she gives that knowing, secretive smile of the young ‘Tezaab’ girl who stole millions of hearts with her dance to a numerical song.

Thankfully, things get better the moment, her opponent; Sumitra Devi (Juhi Chawla) walks in and how. Her lips constantly curved in a half manipulative, half sweet smile, she arrives at the village to gather votes. In one well orchestrated scene in the otherwise badly directed film, a defining moment of Rajjo’s power over Sumitra’s is shown nicely when Sumitra stands with folded hands, waiting for cheers from the crowd who are silent for a moment until Rajjo walks past and they start cheering for her.

Juhi shines in her moment of no glory. Every time she is on screen, her impeccable dialogue delivery is a delightful surprise, especially when she starts on a honey dripping tone with “prem ka matlab samajhte hain aap?” and then snarls,”GHANTA samajhte hain.”If only she had cut down on her lip chewing in an attempt to look malicious.

Madhuri manages to hold her own when she has her moments, very much in keeping with Prakash Jha school of dialogues. She pulls off lines like “sangathan main shakti hai, akele main aapki phat ti hai” like a pro. However, she is made to run like a wild hunter and jump off vehicle tops with an axe in hand and a killer look on her face a la Goddess Durga . It is a marvel that she agreed to do it.

Much more fabulous actor power is seen amongst the gang of women like Divya Jagdale, Tannishtha   Chatterjee, Priyanka Bose who obviously relish their meaty roles. Ms Dixit could have borrowed some tips on body language from them.

While the film is rightfully as violent in places, it turns downright gross when Juhi Chawla orders a woman staffer to lift her sari so that a man has to crawl through. Is this the producer and director’s idea of women empowerment?

What could have been a hot pink drama of woman power amongst the casting coup of the year, unfortunately, is a dirty pink embarrassment, soiled by very bad direction by Soumik Sen.

Celebrating Women’s Day with Gulaab Gang is not recommended at all.


She is a simple, innocent bride-to-be, dressed in a loose, beige hand knit cardigan and churidar kurta, getting her mehendi done. Her thoughts during her mehendi ceremony are also simple……”Mummy ne saree nahin pehni…yeh Chintu kahaan hai,phone pe meri photo lena chahiye,Facebook ke liye…parson meri first night hai…dar lag raha hai…”She is, of course, a virgin.

Her fiancĂ© has been calling her urgently to meet her at a coffee shop. She walks up to his table, coy and demure and dainty and starts talking, her words as rapid and simple as her thoughts….’aap wait nahin kar sakte ..”He cuts her abruptly and tells her he can’t marry her. She looks blank and dumbfounded. Then there is disbelief. Then, denial. As the truth hits home, tears start welling up, her voice starts trembling. Over the years, he has moved on from being a small town man to a man of the world, ever since he has been to London. ”Hamara status match nahin hota…. we will be friends ya…”he says casually. She runs out, weeping and lost. Runs back again, lost for words. All she can think of is how it may give her father a heart attack. That he should speak to her parents. Back home, she locks herself in her room for a night.

In the morning she announces she wants to go on her honeymoon alone. After all, her tickets are booked for Paris.

In his second film after Chillar Party, the director, Vikas Bahl has his story and script, so well centered around the protagonist, Rani ,that right from scene one, he has the audience rooting for her, engaging with her, crying with her, laughing with her at her silly Santa Banta jokes and even applauding her when she does the heroic thing at the right moment.

In some ways, reminiscent of English Vinglish and a helpless Sridevi in Paris, Queen takes Rani on a trip to Paris and Amsterdam, forces her to live by herself and come on her own. Like she says at one point in a drunken state (the best drunken performance on screen for a long time) to her new,hot and bold friend, Vijaylaxmi,”sab kuch akele kar rahi hoon, akee gunde se fight kar rahi hoon, akele Eiffel tower dekh rah hoon…” She has just saved herself from being mugged in a dark alley, by holding on to her bag, struggling against a big guy, rolling over with her bag, straddling it with her thighs but simply not letting go. The heroic deed, done most unheroically, has the audience clapping. Especially when she tells her Vijaylaxmi,”ab woh kabhi Dilliwaalon se panga nahin lega.”The lines may play to the gallery but they work like a charm.

Kangana has many, many clap worthy moments throughout. Watch how she stands in drunken pride as she says,”maine kabhi koi galat kaam nahin kiya,” or when she innocently says,”main Vijay se zyada good looking hoon…itna life kharab ho gaya..”Soon she moves from self-pity to determination. In a beautifully shot close up, we see the look of wild defiance in her yes as opens up her simple braid and lets loose on the dance floor.

Another scene stealing moment comes when the camera is placed strategically in front of her and a “cute’ French restaurant owner challenges her if Indians kiss better than the French, Her facial acrobatics are hilarious as she mentally braces herself for her first kiss.

From time to time you are reminded she is a virgin having the best time on her ‘honeymoon’. The way she thinks aloud, ’meri bag mein condom hai’ (because Vijaylaxmi has put some in her bag), the way she picks up sex toys at a shop as gifts for her family without realising what they are, the way she jumps up in fright in her hotel room on her first night there, at the sounds of loud lovemaking from the next room, the way she wears her bra underneath the covers in the presence of a man; would otherwise have appeared like going overboard if not for Kangana’s smooth and easy performance.

Rajkummar Rao makes an impact despite very little screen time. Lisa Haydon as the hot Vijay Laxmi suits the part.

Every bit of fabulous performance from all comes from the writing alone. Kangana, incidentally is credited for additional dialogue.

Queen marks a significant turning point in women centric films in its honest and entertaining treatment.

 It is all about how Rani is Kangana sans makeup and Kangana is Rani.
If Shahrukh is King Khan, Kangana is Queen Ranaut.

More power to ‘her’ cinema.