Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 27 June 2014


(Star rating:2 stars)

Bottomline:Too many villains and plots spoil the kill.

Rakesh Mahadkar (Riteish Deshmukh) loves his wife, Sulu (Aamna Sharif) immensely. She is beautiful. And she drives him crazy. Literally.
Like any middle class housewife, she is a bit of a nag and a sucker for gifts. The fact that her husband is aseedha saada, good for nothing man who can barely afford to pay Rs 125 for auto rickshaw; doesn’t help much. So she bombards him endlessly with insults and taunts. He in turn tries to please her with more gifts and trinkets. Sometimes it’s an anklet. Sometimes it’s a necklace. Only, he hasn’t bought them. He has just wrenched them off the women he tortures and kills with a screwdriver.
Twisted but interesting, so far. Unfortunately, that’s the only track that carries the entire film through. This is a film, which has been widely marketed as a love story of a villain. This is both true and false; depending on whose story you follow. If it’s that of the heroine who insists on calling her hero ‘ae villain’, there is major disappointment in store. Unless you like seeing the most clich├ęd character, the sweetest, nicest girl whose aim in life is to help the needy. Think Gajni. Think Asin. Here, it is Aisha (Shraddha Kapoor). She loves keeping a wish list diary. Butterflies and snowflakes are a part of her dream. So is kidnapping lovers and getting them married. She draws smiley faces and cracks jokes to hide her own sad story. Not that it matters. A miracle changes that into a happy story ever after. So Miss Smiley and her ‘villain’ goon hero, Guru (Siddharth Malhotra) have nothing to worry about, do they? Apparently they do. The boring love story, rescued by Mithoon and Ankit Tiwari’s melodious music; finally gets interesting. The real villain’s (Riteish) own twisted love story comes in the way.
In a screenplay that uses several flashbacks and more twists and characters, all playing ‘villain’ to one another; it’s the tight edit that holds the film together. The violent revenge saga between Siddharth and Riteish lacks the punch of a deadly face-off. (Incidentally, the poster is rip off of the John Travolta film.) Some ridiculous moments involve Siddharth jabbing a needle into Riteish’s chest to bring him back from the dead. The plot turns around more than one man’s revenge and a messy chase wrecks all hell on screen.
While the director, Mohit Suri tries to repeat Aashiqui 2 with the music and Shraddha’s charm; Guru and Aisha’s love story just does not appeal to the heart. More so, with Siddharth’s solo, monotonous, grumpy look. The real deal in acting, comes from the minor characters, the women who fall victims, particularly Riteish’s boss who mocks him. For some amusement and Riteish’s psycho character explanation, there is also the weirdo friend, Kamaal R Khan.
Riteish Deshmukh is the savior and the hero. His mild, gentle manner, the lover’s sincerity and the vulnerability in his body language changing to steely murderous, is a delight to watch. Aamna Sharif as his nagging wife, steals the show. The two together, make this otherwise twisted love story, somewhat tolerable.
Thanks to Ek Villain, Riteish Deshmukh is the newfound Amol Palekar. Someone who says “I love you” in the deadliest way possible.

(This has first appeared in

Friday, 20 June 2014


(STAR RATING: A half for Riteish Deshmukh)
Bottom line: Beware. Dogs may take offence.
Dear Saif,
I love your shakal. Really. I love the way you achieved that endearing naive look in Dil Chahta Hai.I love the way you said the whacky lines, “ya to yeh dosti gehri hai ya phir yeh photo 3D hai.” Every repeated viewing continues to evoke the same kind of laughter as the first time in 2001.
I really wanted to laugh for your sake in Humshakals.Yes, the film with a Hindi title that pretends to be English with the ‘s’ added to it. After all, there were three of you. When you are Ashok Singhania, the millionaire, you do look the part, with your charming Nawabi presence. More so when you get into the magnificent red Ferrari while calling yourself a struggler in stand-up comedy. Reminds me of your writer and director, Sajid Khan who seems to have been making his moolah despite struggling to be slapstick funny in all his past movies.
When Khan dedicates Humshakals to Kishore Kumar, Peter Sellers and Jim Carrey, I suppose his intentions are all in good faith. Maybe he relates to your character who knows that the audience boos away his bad and sad jokes but continues bravely for the ‘passion’. And he is certainly as lucky as Ashok because he always gets away with it. Just like that sole pretty girl (Tamannah) who laughs and claps; there is always that section of audience simply dying to laugh. Their own lives must be pretty tragic. So much so that they don’t mind coughing up hard earned money to sit through an asylum circus.
Just what was that slapping scene between, you, Riteish Deshmukh, Ram Kapoor and Satish Shah, all about? Was it a definition of ‘slapstick comedy’? Did you ask Sajid? And the scene where your look-a-like with five-year-old mind plays with the machine wires next to your wealthy father lying in coma and calls it video game? Maybe you were told that this is a father–son story and the villain, Mamaji (Ram Kapoor) would wrong you by sending you to a mental asylum after turning you and your loyal friend, Riteish into dogs. Do you really believe that is even remotely funny? Esha Gupta, playing the doctor, certainly must have thought so, since she was quite sincere in constantly offering you both a big bone.
For that matter, did you ask yourself why you even agreed to act in this film? Didn’t you just miss the humour inDil Chahta Hai? Or even a rather silly, over the top act with Shah Rukh Khan in “Kal Ho Na Ho”? Your perfect sense of comic timing was most visible in “Main Khiladi Tu Anadi”. It could have been the same with a fine actor like Riteish Deshmukh who plays Kumar to your Ashok.The two of you could have done an “Angoor” like Sanjeev Kumar and Deven Verma, given your talent. Unfortunately, you did not have Shakespeare as writer and Gulzar as director. You had someone whose Himmatwala could actually make Jeetendra’s Himmatwala more tolerable. Guess he seemed to have realized that, considering he was sporting enough to incorporate that ‘torture’ scene. The one in which Satish Shah as the sadistic asylum warden makes you watch ‘Sajid Khan’s Himmatwala’ as a form of punishment he calls ‘torture’.
So on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a torture did you go through when you donned a swimsuit, a wig, high heels and waxed your legs? Or when you had to bark and run like a dog and roll around on a conference table for what seemed like an eternity? Or when you had to jump and scream in kid voice, “Hum paagal nahin hain,hamara dimag kharab hai”?
You have said in your interviews that you wanted to ‘experiment’. That was awfully brave of you, indeed. Because judging from your choice of scripts ranging from Omkara (your Langda Tyagi was the best experiment ever with that unruly, rustic characterization) to Being Cyrus (the coolest negative role ever) to my all time favourite, Ek Hasina Thi; Humshakals might have been a tough decision. But then, which actor would not be tempted by a triple role. Even if one of them is effeminate and downright boring. Plus there is your wonderful co-actor Riteish who is a natural at making an ass or a dog of himself. Did he also think that lathering maska all over Ram’s face was a great gag?
And if that level of retard humour wasn’t enough, it got worse with Ram lookalike in the asylum, getting murderous fits over a sneeze. The lollypop act must have been a cakewalk for him as it has been done to death. He can be forgiven for lapping up these kind of roles. Bipasha Basu seems to have had second thoughts, though. After all, she got reduced to a few Bengali words and some short skirts. Those claws must be itching to scratch some eyes out.
I would much rather you have a blast like you did, as the golden haired Boris in Go, Goa, Gone. When you sang and danced with Tamannah to “Mujhe apni bana le caller tune”, tapping one hand on another, what were you thinking? Didn’t you just miss your act in Agent Vinod’s “pyaar ki pungi”? That was so you, cute and comic.
Since your three faces didn’t make Sajid’s film any more tolerable than all the past films, I sincerely look forward to seeing your original shakal back on screen soon. The lovable, funny, earnest, sincere and cool Saif Ali Khan.
With apologies,
Your well-wisher.

Friday, 13 June 2014


The electronic media has become a really bad joke. And it’s not just about ‘THE NATION WANTS TO KNOW.’ and our daily circus on news channels. Every second Hindi film repeats the same old version of a television journalist who is either a bitch or insensitive or plain stupid. The dialogues are the same, the coverage is no different. “Kaisa feel ho raha hai…” has been hammered out to death.
It’s no different in Fugly, which essentially revolves around four young friends fighting a corrupt cop, but takes the easy way out through ridiculous reportage.
A Honey Singh song starts off the film with the title track that goes,”yeh fugly fugly kya hai?” The vocabulary lesson around this unusual word continues for the next two plus hours. The song’s lyrics “baap ke paison pe koodna,sadak ke kone pe mootna,377 hatna ya Jessica Lal ki ghatna…”sets the tone for a film out to send a social message.
The film begins on a note that tries its best to be shocking and sensational. It could easily be a beginning from any of Vishesh Films. The hero, Dev (Mohit Marwah) gets off his bike at India Gate. He picks up a kerosene can and stylishly walks up to a point where he pours it all over himself and attempts to burn himself alive. Most conveniently, a reporter and a TV camera happen to be around. Dev is rushed off to a hospital but not without a TV reporter who is around to tell his story to the world.
The mighty villain who has driven him to this self immolation act is a cop, Chautala (Jimmy Sheirgill) who lives by his bottle and hungers for power.
Dev, Gaurav (Vijendra Singh, Olympic boxer), Aditya (Arif Lamba) and Devi (Kiara Advani) are the best of chaddi buddies who have grown up with individual dreams.
Devi is molested by a creepy grocer (Praveen Singh Sisodia, brilliant performance). Apparently, things haven’t changed much since ‘Mother India’ days where Nargis’s character was constantly subjected to leery propositions by the neighbourhood Lala. An act of retribution by Devi and her friends, leads them into deep trouble with Chautala and eventually…no surprises here…an entire dirty political system.
Actor turned director, Kabir Sadanand’s previous film was also based on social issues. Fugly too takes up current concerns like molestation and police corruption but ends up being a rehash of everything seen before on screen. The amateurish characterization supposed to be representative of the youth, takes away from the forceful plot Fugly could have been.
The foursome with all their film and family connections, do little to engage as actors. Kiera Advani as Devi is a prettier version of Esha Deol. Ashok Kumar and Saeed Jaffery are some of the names in her list of lineage. Mohit Marwah is Anil Kapoor’s nephew and Arjun Kapoor’s cousin. Both along with Vijendra and Lamba, just about make the cut. Jimmy Sheirgill with his powerful badass act, helps lift the film a notch or two. Sisodia as the dirty Nanu packs a fine punch in a small role.
Some of the numbers might get the young burning the dance floors, particularly, “Dhup Chik”. There is a actually a song called “Good in Bed”, unintentionally entertaining in its picturisation too.
Produced by Grazing Goat Pictures-Akshay Kumar and Ashwini Yardi’s production house,Fugly despite its flaws, stands some chance at popularity with all its marketing hype, Akshay and Salman Khan promos and youth centric tone.
At the story level, Fugly tries hard to be a Rang de Basanti. Sadly, the impact is missing.

Thursday, 5 June 2014


(This has first appeared in
In Aurangabad, a proud father who spends most of his time performing pujas, bare torsoed and clad in bright pink dhoti, calls his daughter ‘hamara product’ who ‘has to be perfect’. Perfect here is all about being a staunch “Hindu’ who can take up a gun and kill in defense of her religion if required. The daughter, Prachi Trivedi chokes on tears of gratitude because he has not killed his girl child like thousands do. He has only burnt her foot with an iron rod, once as a child to teach her a lesson in being truthful. Today she proudly trains young girls at the Durga Vahini camp, the women’s wing of a Hindu nationalist organization in India- the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Prachi’s father is not the only ‘perfect product’ maker. In more posh surroundings of a five star hotel in the city of dreams, Mumbai, Sabira Merchant, a diction trainer, says with conviction that Miss India training camp is like a beauty “factory that makes girls into the perfect modern Indian woman.” Another authoritarian figure bends over a young girl and declares the pretty face to be imperfect and non symmetrical. Dr Jamuna Pai, dermatologist, towers over her, pokes at her chin with a Botox injection. When the girl protests, the skin expert hired by the Miss India pageant organisers, declares with disgusting authority that she will inject the Botox even if “I have to strap you down”. We soon see a blurred face being administered the painful treatment. All because these girls have been told by the beauty business and competitions across the world that one crown will change their lives. As Ruhi Singh, one of the contestants, puts it, her parents will be proud and not feel she is a “waste”. For her winning the contest is her ticket to freedom.
Canadian filmmaker, Nisha Pahuja’s documentary The World Before Her addresses all this and more by following two women from different worlds. One at a Miss India boot camp that follows the western ‘modern’ outlook. Another at a Durga Vahini training camp that is not only anti western culture but also anti Christian and anti Muslim. On the surface, these are two Indias. Only to reveal they are just mirrors.
Ruhi Singh from Jaipur, is a simple pretty girl who tries her luck at becoming Miss India to change her fortunes. Prachi is a more tomboyish girl in Aurangabad who has attended 42 Durga Vahini camps and says she only lives for “Hinduism”.
While tracking the journeys these two young women take in the parallel worlds, the film also showcases a former Miss India winner, Pooja Chopra. We see in a moving interview by her mother how her decision not to abort Pooja at the cost of breaking her marriage, has eventually given birth to a successful and beautiful role model like her. Perhaps the only story that shows a beauty pageant with an upside to it. The rest of the track covering the contestants’ preparation shows Sabira Merchant lecturing the girls and revealing how she advises them to go with the ‘new world’ instead of the old because that’s the only way to keep up with the times. In less kinder coverage, we see a woman guiding a girl’s body posture and asks if hurts. The girl says ‘yes’ and the mentor shoot back, “it looks fab.” Another one has a male coach telling the girls to stand with “boobs on, butts out”. The lack of dignity of it all does make one of them, Ankita Shorey, question, “at what cost?”
Treading slowly and surely into the two seemingly opposite worlds, the film does a hard hitting, thought provoking job of questioning what is modern, what is traditional and what is indeed culture. At one point, it even juxtaposes one world against the other and shows how Prachi reacts to the beauty pageants and the so called western culture.
The film has deservedly won the best documentary feature at the Tribeca film festival 2012.You are left with disturbing visuals of young girls in villages, tying orange dupattas around the waist, tucking in a knife, putting tikkas on their foreheads like little warriors, holding up a gun or a sword and chanting patriotic or religious sentiments.
In the other not so different world, the camera follows girls being paraded in bikinis and yards of cloth over their heads, so that just their legs are seen and judged, irrespective of discomfort or suffocation.
The glaring and chilling unspoken truth that speaks volumes through these visuals is that each of the girls in both the worlds, believes that she is doing it out of her own choice. None is aware of the actual brainwashing by the unseen larger and scarier forces of politics and commerce. All in the name of religion and beauty.
And if the visuals are not enough, these words that shape so many young lives, continue to haunt:
“Girls should be married by 18. By the time they are 25, they become so strong willed, you cannot tame them.” Aparna Ramteerthkar, social activist.
“My mom walked over my father because he didn’t want a second girl child. I was that second girl child.” Pooja Chopra, Miss india, 2009.
“He (father) let me live when others kill their daughters.”Prachi Trivedi.
I hate Gandhi.” Prachi Trivedi.
The World Before Her is a documentary that deserves to be a blockbuster and seen by each of you. Because it’s your world. Called India.