Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 29 August 2014


(Star rating:3)

Emraan Hashmi said in a recent interview that Raja Natwarlal is a family film with kisses. He is right. He kisses his heroine, Humaima only thrice. These are short, sweet kisses; far removed from the passionate sizzling lip locks he is known for. Nevertheless, Emraan proves he is still a king and prince charming combined when it comes to what he does best.
Now that’s out of the way, one can focus on Emraan as Raja Natwarlal, the conman in the film. He is named after Mithilesh Kumar Srivastava, the legendary Natwarlal, who had ‘sold’ the Taj Mahal, Red Fort, Rashtrapati Bhavan and an entire parliament.
Cast well by Jannat director, Kunal Deshmukh, Emraan plays Raja, a small time street-smartcrook in love with a dance bar girl (Pakistani actor, Humaima Malik). When he pull off a heist, his collar up action is defined by a crude underwear tug; a mannerism quickly forgotten in the rest of the film. Raja’s partner in crime is an older and genial big brother figure, Raghav (Deepak Tijori).
They cook up their small con jobs on Raghav’s dining table while loving wife (Prachi Shah) serves food and a small son studies diligently. Raja’s greed for a bigger heist costs Raghav his life. Raja’s own life is in danger. The money they had stolen, belongs to a Cape Town based deadly don and cricket fanatic, Vardha Yadav (Kay Kay Menon). In a bid to take revenge over Raghav’s death, Raja turns to ex-conman from Dharamshala, Yogi (Paresh Rawal). Yogi who has a personal axe to grind, decides to mentor Raja into becoming a king conmaster, bigger than the real Natwarlal.
Here both the story and the pace falter. A lengthy portion is taken up by Yogi’s gyaan(making a cigarette roll on its own) and his personal and unconvincing subplot. This takes away from Raja’s own challenges and doesn’t quite bring out the king-size hero he is supposed to be.
With Vardha’s entry, the second half makes up for the slow beginning. Yogi’s big idea is to sell an entire fake cricket team worth Rs 100 crore to Vardha. A parallel track involving a couple of corrupt policemen and Vardha’s hitman in pursuit of Raja, manage to create some tension. Some hasty screenplay moves though, lead to location switches between Cape Town and Mumbai appear like hopping between coffee shops in the same lane.
The last 20 minutes, shot in slick and smooth sequences, involving a crew of fake pest control team and false auctions, pack in the real entertainment punch. Kay Kay’s eventual act during the climax have shades of Manoj Bajpai’s mad and memorable performance in Special 26.You wish there were more humorous moments like Kay Kay’s confusion over Yogi’s nationality.
Paresh Rawal has not just lost weight but also some of his earlier charisma. Occasionally, one glimpses a sharp familiar glint in his eyes. Humaima as Emraan’s lady love tries hard but lacks sex appeal and screen presence. Emraan’s mainstay in his previous films, the music, also fails to lend either melody or tempo. Deepak Tijori and Prachi Shah are cast well as a pleasant couple you end up sympathizing with.
Raja Natwarlal like its title, could have been a king-size con film. But the otherwise talented pawn sized Emraan’s sincerity along with decent direction by Deshmukh, makes the film a fun watch.

Friday, 22 August 2014


She is as cool as cucumber and as sweet as shrikhand. But rub her the wrong way and she declares she can be a “rat, a dog or a tigress”. Thankfully, there are no growls or roars or references to Maa Chandi. After all, she and the film are in very capable hands. There is a sensitive man directing this Mardaani: Pradeep Sarkar, director ofParineeta.
When we first see Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji), her face is seen in a well-lit shot. She is dressed in a simple saree and wears a neat plait. She could be mistaken for a middle class housewife. Then she walks. An upright, quick walk. This lady means business. She is Senior Inspector, crime branch, out to get a criminal in a buildingchawl.
Her last frame is even better; that of water splashing off her face. The location is perfect, that of a hand pump. In another scene, when she is at a very low point, she makes a very brave and determined promise to her opponent on the phone. All in calm, measured tones. Here too, the camera lens show just her alone between two window frames; a beautifully designed shot. The deft cinematography(Artur Zurawski) and edit(Sanjib Dutta), along with Gopi Puthran’s almost tight though predictable script (with liberties) has Pradeep Sarkar’s craft written all over it. Above all, it is his mastery over emotions that make Mardaani a clear winner. This stands out most when a minor character, a criminal turned informer tells Shivani as she treats him to mutton, “main yeh sab us ladki ke liye kar raha hoon, khane ke liye nahin.”
When her boss rebukes Shivani, she jokes to her colleagues about taking his wife for shopping. You smile with her. When she smears cake all over the faces of her little niece and husband (Jisshu Sengupta, controlled),you laugh with her. When she feeds a teenager girl, Pyaari (Priyanka Sharma), from a NGO, you feel she cares. When she finds a vicious ‘gift’ at her doorstep, you feel as threatened. When she engages and spars with her arch and deadly rival, Karan aka Walt (Tahir Bhasin), you really root for her. When she curses occasionally, you applaud. Finally, when she emerges in full-on Bollywood action kept realistic by Dabangg standards, blood dripping at the corner of her mouth, you whole-heartedly cheer her on. The soundtrack of “main tumko nahin chorungi”.. adds to the much-needed woman’s redemption spirit.
The only let down is a poorly delivered, over lengthy speech. Except for the filmy one line bound to draw claps and whistles.. “aaja mard ban kar kitna upar chadta hai, dekhte hain.” Little wonder, Shivani’s mardaani character and her realistic fistfight minus Bollywood shenanigans, draws you in. Mardaani, as a film as whole as its emotions and actions at the right places.
The story and well-paced screenplay revolve around three central characters: Shivani, Pyari and Karan. Shivani has a special fondness for a street child, Pyari whom she had rescued once from the streets. Pyari now lives in a NGO shelter home. Shivani takes her out often, along with her little niece. One day, a sex trafficking gang kidnaps Pyari. The gang kingpin is a young and smooth-tongued Karan who likes calling himself ‘Walt’, after a crime series character. As Shivani tries to track down Pyari’s whereabouts, her fight against the system starts getting personal. Soon it becomes a game between the hunter and hunted. Karan is fascinated by Shivani’s hot pursuit. A cat and mouse game follows, making the drama entertaining and engrossing.
If ‘picture abhi baaki hai’ is Shah Rukh Khan’s memorable line from Om Shanti Om, for Rani, it could very well be, “ladai abhi baki hai’. Her home production banner, Yashraj, does not shy away from sensational scenes of skin show, in their portrayal of atrocities on young girls.
Newcomer, Tahir Raj Bhasin, keeps one on the edge with his portrayal of Walt like villain. Rani Mukerji strikes the right note in controlled intensity while playing a calm and collected, no nonsense cop.
Short of imagination at times, this Mardaani is cooler than Singham and total paisa wasool. Khoob ladi Rani Mukerji.

Thursday, 21 August 2014


Kanpur, once known as Manchester of the East, is a now a city left with dark nights saved by a few common thieves. Loha Singh is one of them.
Loha is a Katiyabaaz who is extremely proud of his profession. His medals for his outstanding skills are his burnt fingers, one of which is twisted. He revels in the fact that he climbs up an electricity pole, armed with a spanner and risks his life every time he uses ‘katiya’, an illegal hooked wire to steal electricity. “Chahe aandhi ya toofan aa jaye, keri katiya hil nahin sakti,”the half toothless man declares confidently. And indeed, his katiya provides illegal electricity to many of the 3 million people who survive on 15 hour-long power cuts. Enough to make him a hero.
There is a method in his robbery, Loha says. He just stops his breath while hanging between the live wires. His logic is simple. He is as good as dead while he holds his breath. So how would he possibly lose his life? Well, he is not just alive but also roaming free of any jail scare.
The short and unkempt dare devil not only boasts of his work but also has an opinion on everything. The best one is about politicians. These guys come every five years and beg with folded hands, he says. And the voting public allow themselves to be fooled (his own adjective or rather abuse is far less complimentary). The moment the politicians win, no one sees their face.
The national award-winning documentary highlights Loha’s points by showing a footage of Rahul Gandhi and Manmohan Singh making tall promises in their speeches.
But Loha’s real enemy is an IAS officer, Ritu Maheshwari, the Managing Director of KESCO, Kanpur’s power supply company. It’s fascinating to watch a solo woman ordering a battalion of men and threatening strong action against them. She is pitted against the residents who refuse to pay their electricity bills as well as a contesting MLA. A standoff between the lady with good intentions and the goon like MLA shows a really tough battle ahead of her. Like Loha, she too has been burnt. In the form of an effigy. But she doesn’t react. She knows she is burdened with a huge legacy of constant shortage of power supply, which her lone loss making company cannot solve. Ironically, she too is powerless.
In this city burning at 47 degrees, with the vicious cycle of politics and thefts at play, the only resort is prayer. Here transformers are worshipped with complete faith. You even see an old woman pray in desperation to God for only one thing: light.
The directors, Deepti Kakkar and Fahad Mustafa, treat this immensely powerful subject with subtle and sharp humour. The camera moves over Kanpur city crowded with thick wires across buildings. One particular shot of clothes hanging from the wires, sums up the city’s nonchalance and blasé attitude towards something so shocking. The entertainment quotient is made complete with a music tracks by the band, Indian Ocean.
Katiyabaaz deserves to make more noise than wire sparks in the film. Rightfully so.

Saturday, 16 August 2014


By now, it’s all too familiar. There is a moment towards the climax when a few cops just smile and tap their foreheads. No words required. It is the quintessential audience gratifying moment. Everyone, from the cops to the criminals to the audience knows what that means. It’s a trademark Singham gesture followed by his war cry of having lost it… “AATA MAAJHI SATAKLI..”
This honest policewalah with danda, Baji Rao Singham is serious. That makes him sexy. More so when he takes off his cop’s khakhi wardi and reveals an ordinary baniyan. The righteous anger in the eyes is cooler than Salman’s hairless six-pack wonder. The tension in the body is intense. The muscles are bigger. And when he loses that patience and lets out his Maratha war cry, he is Ajay Devgn, the sexy Singham. The accompanying theme soundtrack, “Singham….Singham..” makes doubly sure you are as charged as him and his band of baniyanboys.
Singham Returns’ maintains the USP of the original Singham, that is, the unity amongst cops. It starts by rolling off statistics on how in a city teeming with x crore population, there are only y ‘000 cops recruited to look after the city. This sets the tone for the grim and tough job on their hands.
No surprises in the plot here. Except that one politician is a good guy (Anupam Kher). The bad guy is a Babaji (Amole Gupte) who at public gatherings, wears white dhoti and at home, T-shirts sporting ‘Dope Chef’. Both run a coalition party. They meet and have a typical showdown, spouting lines heard a million times over. Result: Kher’s life is in danger.
Honest and sexy Singham is around to protect Kher. He can run, shoot, duck bullets like a model walking the ramp. We see him doing what he does best. He flies sideways into the screen, in slow motion, a gun in hand, blasting off every bad guy in sight. He blazes ahead, rifle in hand, braving bullet shots. Not one grazes him. He is, after all, the hero, “jisme hai dum, faqt Baji Rao Singham”.
Obviously, the director, Rohit Shetty, is taking no risks here. He sticks to ‘unite all cops’ formula and even adds more cop characters to cheer for. There is also an impoverished dead cop’s widow who is willing to wash utensils to make ends meet. Then, there is the bereaved mother so that sexy Singham can put his mighty hand on her head and say lines that cannot fail to touch the audience.. “AAI SHAPATH”. You just wish there was more of the Marathi element which gets relegated to brief parents’ scenes in a Maharashtra village.
The limelight in aamchi gaon, shines on Singham’s love interest, trying hard to be a Marathi mulgi (Kareena Kapoor). She makes kohl eyes at the Maratha man, frolics around in pretty long skirts and a wristful of silver bangles(nice styling) and follows him, driving an auto rickshaw. Certainly, Miss kohl eyed K deserves a better use of her unstoppable vivacious charm.
Now that the villains, the romance, guns, deafening dhishums, two Marathi dialogues and a marching band of boys in khakhi and banyans are in place, Rohit Shetty cannot go wrong.
No disappointments, no surprises. Faqt Baji Rao Ajay Devgn, the macho, sexy Singham.

Friday, 8 August 2014


Star rating: 3 stars
Bottom-line: ‘Oui’ (yes) to this delectable fare.
Sample this:
“Food is memory.”
Young Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal) has a divine gift. He can make a beetroot dish look like a work of the most artful French cuisine. He is a master of inventions. One of his concoctions includes something as bizarre as cauliflower ice cream. When it comes to a really special French pigeon truffle dish, his dear Papa’s sharpest opponent, a rival restaurant owner, Madam Mallory (Helen Mirren, who even masters her snobbish nose angle perfectly), has to acknowledge his genius with a reluctant, angry tilt of the chin. After all, all the most difficult and delicious dish has been mastered overnight by an Indian boy whose only training has come from his dear mother (Juhi Chawla in a cameo).
A box of her special Indian spices smell of his poignant childhood memories.
They also carry his future as he gets ready to take the hundred steps across from his Indian restaurant to the posh French one. Much to the anguish of his dear Papa (Om Puri). The affable and paunchy Puri brings in much humour to his forthright and sometimes downright shameless behavior in his attempt to bring customers to his humble dhaba like restaurant. Only when he plays the loud music to irritate the neighbouring mistress of subtle spices, one wishes for a better score from A.R.Rehman. Or perhaps it’s deliberate, in keeping with Madame Mallory’s lines that suggest it sounds more like a funeral instead of a wedding.. “the death of good taste”.
“The Hundred-Foot Journey” based on a novel by Richard C Morrais, could have turned into a classic and predictable conflict recipe cooked to ashes, between father and son. But the narrative flows easily and gently, much like the gentle whisking of spices and egg mixture.
The story effortlessly blends in business rivalry, comic clashes, a budding romance between both the young and the old couples and a most touching parental affection of both a parent and a mentor. There is a lovely lump in the throat moment when Om Puri switches from a short tempered tantrum to deep pride as he points out his son’s picture on the cover of a magazine and says, ”This is my son.”
You can see the loving and nurturing hands of both the director, Lasse Hallstrom (of Chocolat fame) and cinematographer, Linus Sandgren (American Hustle), in the way the lenses take in the simple frothiness of the making of an omelette. The visuals begin at a war like tone, showing rapid close ups of a chopping crescendo on the kitchen table, and gradually move on to silent and sensuous tasting of spoonfuls of mouthwatering dips by Hassan’s new friend, the prettiest chef in the making, Marguerite (Charlotte Le Bon).Her ‘Oui’ is the sweeter than any dessert.
Newcomer, Manish Dayal as Hassan, is like a raw mango with plenty of potential. Om Puri as the jovial but sharp Indian restaurateur, along with Helen Mirren are a delight to watch as they spar with effortless ease. The chemistry between Hassan and Charlotte does not quite match the older, seasoned actors.
From taking you up-close to the object of culinary delight, the camera constantly takes a sweeping but steady bird view of two lone and beautiful buildings facing one another across an empty stretch of long village road. It’s a picturesque, constant reminder of the long distance between cultures that can amount to the shortest hundred yards of love.
Reason enough to draw in producers like Steven Spielberg an Oprah Winfrey.
Go, walk that distance to see “The Hundred-Foot Journey”. Worth it, Oui.


(This has first appeared on
Akshay Kumar is first seen on screen as an obese guy with breasts, feeding a baby. Joke.
Akshay has a friend, Krushna Abhishek (claim to fame-Govinda’s nephew). Every line he utters, includes a celebrity’s name. Something like “I just Rajni-kant believe this.” Joke.
Akshay’s girlfriend, Tamannah looks rosy eyed at her love. A puppy eyed Golden Retriever looks back, returning the sentiment. Joke.
Tamannah’s father, Mithun Chakraborty, suggests she marry the dog. Because, all men are like dogs after marriage. Joke.
Akshay happens to be a poor man who wears classy, white linen. He finds out he has a rich dad somewhere and that he is D.N.A. (Daddy’s Nazayed Aulad). In effect, he is a bastard who decides to cash in on Rs 3000 crore left behind by the rich daddy who dies. Joke.
Akshay flies to Bangkok only to rich daddy has left all the filthy wealth to Entertainment. Joke.
Entertainment is a dog. Joke.
Johnny Lever is rich daddy’s lawyer. Joke.
Johnny Lever screams like a mad man every time somebody forgets his name: Habibullah. Joke.
Everyone calls him by another name. Joke.
Akshay and Krushna get a book on ways to kill by accident. The intention is to kill the dog. The dog reads the book. Joke.
Every time, they attempt to kill, Akshay ends up doing a painful headstand. Joke.
One day, Akshay gets an epiphany. A dog is better than a human being. So it’s better to be called a dog. If someone calls him a dog, it would be a compliment. Joke.
So guys, go complement Akshay Kumar and other jokers including Prakash Raj, Sonu Sood and Sajid –Farhad, the writer-director team.