Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 19 September 2014


There is a scene in Daawat-e-Ishq when the tapori 12th fail restaurant owner and wannabe groom, Tariq (Aditya Roy Kapur) walks into a five star hotel suite with a plate of Lucknowi seekh kebabs. The occupants, father (Anupam Kher) and the bride-to-be daughter, Sanya alias Gulrez (Parineeti Chopra), have been conducting interviews with prospective grooms. Sanya launches a tirade of angry protests against Tariq and picks up the phone to call the security. Tariq simply holds out a plate of the luscious kebabs in front of her. A long minute of silence follows as she picks up one and continues to take a bite after another bite of the Lucknowi delicacy.
This is Tariq’s power of ‘ishq’ in all its culinary glory.
A few scenes before this wondrous moment, Gulrez has just kicked out her last prospective groom and his family from her table. “Bloody vegetarian,” she screams as she denies them the burgers and cold drinks she and her father have just paid for. The family and the “English speaking” groom with American accent, had thrown the last straw in the dowry demand line up. They wanted the high court clerk and his shoe salesgirl daughter to pay up Rs 80 lakh in order to get her hitched.
The film opens well, in a middle class Hyderabad house. Booji (Anupam) leads a family up a few flight of stairs to his house. The first word the guest utters is, “kitna?” Booji earnestly tells them he can pay them Rs15 lakh as dowry for his daughter, Gullu. At some point, the guests leave or rather are thrown out by Gullu. No, not because she has any objection to her dad paying his life’s earnings but because the unsuitable boy cannot speak English. She is after all, a topper in her school. Besides, she is fairly independent, works as a sales girl at a footwear shop, rides a scooter and drops her father daily to work after he cooks and packs her dabba. Her dream is to have her own shoe design label in New York.
Gullu, after several humiliating experiences, decides to end the dowry drama by turning the tables and coming up with a plan. She ropes in her partner-in- crime, her reluctant father. An interesting con game begins in Lucknow but ends faster than you can say biryani. A beautifully choreographed title song at interval point promises a lot but fails to deliver in the second half. Quick, easy resolving of the story does not leave any room for conflict. This could have been an intense dowry cum love story flavoured with Hyderabadi and Lucknowi spices but ends up as neither.
Feisty female characters and funny lines are his forte and writer/director Habib Faisal (with story co-writer, Jyoti Kapoor) does not disappoint in that area, after Ishaqzaade. However, his major weakness of faltering in the second half of the screenplay, remains.
Both Aditya and Parineeti serve their best but dish out more fun than chemistry. A rushed up climax renders the duo forgettable by the time you leave the theatre.
Anupam Kher’s performance as a desperate and loving father helps in keeping one engaged and amused throughout.
Daawat-e-Ishq is like the kebab that melts at first bite but lacks enough meat. Good enough to taste. But not enough to raise a toast.


He thinks she is ‘aafat’. She thinks he is ‘khadoos’. That’s the starting point. The thinking continues. He thinks. She thinks. In voiceovers. They say the opposite. It doesn’t take much for them to have second thoughts. The hormones play Cupid. The oldest trick in Hindi movies is used here. She falls into his arms while reaching out for a book. (How original). Not that either of them read much.
One (Mili, Sonam Kapoor) is a physiotherapist, which is supposed to explain why only her upward pointing legs are seen on screen, more than once. The other is Prince Vikram Singh Rathore (Fawad Khan) who is too busy doing ‘business’. But since Shashank Ghosh’s Khoobsurat is a love story where sparks are supposed to fly between opposites, the two don’t care what they really think of each other. When the voiceover thoughts wear out their comic value (yes, there is some), the loud half Punju, thoughtless Mili blurts out to the silent, thoughtful handsome Prince, “mujhe gande khayal aa rahein hain.”
Would Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s vivacious Rekha have ever said this to the mild mannered Rakesh Roshan in the original Khoobsurat? A flutter of her lashes would have done the needful. Romance in those days didn’t boil down to mere attraction. Hormonal rush was created to heighten the moment. You could hear their hearts beating just by the virtue of the unspoken.
Any good love story makes you root for the lovers when the story gives meaning to that thing called love. In this case, it seems to be—opposites can attract and love can override the differences. But then the originalKhoobsurat wasn’t just a romance between two people. It was about a home which runs on rules and how a happy-go-lucky girl brings, love, joy and laughter to the entire family, including the hero. The memorable parts in the film were between this young lively girl (Rekha) and the iron lady of the house (Dina Pathak),which worked their beautiful magic.
Disney produced, Ghosh’s Khoobsurat is totally devoid of any subtlety either in character or presentation. A glossy presentation, grand Rajasthani locales displaying royal palatial surroundings and good looking actors, particularly our Pakistani hero playing a Rajput prince, do succeed in blinding you with the glitter, momentarily. But not long enough.
Every character is a caricature and every scene is a safe clichĂ©. Rani-Sa (Ratna Pathak) in a blunt cut wig with perfect greys, silk sarees, huge pearls; is more of a stereotype royal snob running a palace. Dina Pathak’s strict matriarch act was a far more superior portrayal of a household run by rules and more rules. So when Rekha and the rest of the family sang, “saare niyam tod do, niyam pe chalna chod do..”, it resonated and felt liberating. But when Sonam shakes her hips (she does dance well here) to lyrics like “maaro bum dole” or “bum mein dum hai”, it is anything but liberating.
When Mili is not romping around and dropping things, she is known to have helped the likes of Dhoni and Sehwag on the cricket fields. Her sports therapy is soon forgotten once she sets foot inside the royal place.
So we see Mili drinking wine and more wine, straight from the bottle. She drinks with the wheel chair ridden king whom she has come to treat. She drinks with the prince and keeps thinking how handsome he is. So do we. She drinks some more with another king who is the prince’s business rival. While wine and champagne flow easy, conversations between Mili and Vicku (she calls him that, yes) are limited to shopping and silver.
Rest of the time, she flashes toothpaste, sugar and honey coated smiles and he looks at her long bare legs. “Taad rahe ho?”she reacts. She shares every detail with her louder counterpart, her mom whom she calls Manju (Kirron Kher). The two skype about the handsome prince who happens to be engaged, by the way. The fiancĂ© (Aditi Rao) appears like an afterthought.
So while Manju and her daughter together wreck havoc in the boring household, little attention is paid to the real story of the disciplinarian royal mom. Ratna Pathak Shah does not go beyond a lift of the chin or the shoulders. Her husband (Aamir Raza) is a tad more fun to watch. Fawad who is outstanding in Pakistani serial, Zindagi Gulzar Hai, does little other than looking suitably dashing. It’s a Sonam Kapoor film all the way. Dressed in tight colorful pants, she prances around mostly and charms and engages though not convincingly enough to surpass her previous performances.
The original Khoobsurat remains like old wine, cherished more than ever. As for the remake, it’s bubbly and frothy. The high doesn’t last beyond the interval.

Friday, 12 September 2014


“Is he crazy or is he drunk?” Asks Rosy (Dimple Kapadia).
“Both”; pat comes the reply.
The dialogue, pretty much sums up three of the characters in Finding Fanny; Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah), Rosy and Pedro (Pankuj Kapur).
This is not surprising, considering it’s a Homi Adajania film. His fondness for quirky characters from Goa, was first seen in his debut film,” Being Cyrus”.
The plot was slick and the twist was cool. It was also a rare off beat film with a mainstream hero, Saif, playing the lead.
The elements are similar in Finding Fanny. There’s superstar Deepika Padukone playing an unlikely, country girl from Goa, Angie. The curiosity factor of seeing her star in an English film (there’s also a Hindi version) and play second fiddle to a motley cast of veteran actors, is enough to generate interest.
It is not often one gets to see a Hindi film heroine kill a hen, cook it and casually wipe her hands across a cat’s furry back. Or lie covered in a lacy bra, on the grass next to her lover, Savio (Arjun Kapoor), telling him that she hopes the sex will get better with time. It is another matter that one doesn’t understand what she saw in him. But that too doesn’t make any difference because this is predominantly Ferdie’s love story. In fact, the entire track between the younger couple is like Feni without the fizz.
In the quaint Goan village, Poccolim, everyone’s life is an open book. So much so, that when Ferdie (Naseeruddin Shah) cries and howls all night, the entire village wakes up. Ferdie is a postman who has never outgrown his choirboy life, dressed in white lacy and frilly long robe. He discovers, 46 years later, that his letter with a marriage proposal to Fanny (Anjali Patil) never got delivered. His tears of anguish over lost love and lost opportunities move Angie into organizing a road trip in the rustiest, old Dodge available.
The car belongs to a famous painter, Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) who also, like Ferdie is first seen, crying over the lack of inspiration or a muse. Anil Mehta’s camera work is at once artistic and funny in these introductory frames, particularly one which shows a blank canvas, with a red blurb of paint and the back of Pedro’s head. Mehta’s cinematography and a very slick edit plays a crucial role throughout, highlighting black humour involving a cat earlier and Pedro during a brake failure; two best moments in the film that make it worth a watch.
So five people and a cat set out in Pedro’s dirty blue car, to look for Ferdie’s love, Fanny. Pedro hopes to paint his big-bottomed muse, Rosy. Savio doesn’t need much convincing to drive them all. He has been in love with Angie all his life. The two have a past which involves his best friend, Ranveer Singh in a “short-lived appearance” as Angie’s groom who dies on his wedding day. As the film progresses, a few secrets come out. However, the buildup is as laid back as the sleepy village, for the revelations to have any dramatic effect.
The sequence that holds interest is a night of drunken merry, between Ferdie, Rosy and Pedro. The centre of attraction, predictably, is Rosy lying under a tree, her more than ample curves filling up the silver screen. Dimple’s performance here is sparkling and effortless while Naseeruddin and Pankuj flounder around.
All in all, it’s a trippy love ride with two lonely widows (the best mother-in-law and daughter-in-law dynamics), a jilted mechanic, an eccentric painter and a love lorn postman. Characters like these sound great on paper but the script has little else to offer. At times, the humour is forced, like Dimple’s skirt tearing as she bends, her prosthetic derriere being the camera’s idea of a joke.
The gorgeous middle-aged actress pulls it off with amazing alacrity and plays the grand widow of Goa to perfection. Deepika is all subtle sweetness and charm, displaying feistiness at the right moments. The women out shadow both Naseeruddin and Pankaj Kapur who are more theatrical in their comic acts. It’s remarkable however the way Naseeruddin makes his usual baritone, sound weak and frail in keeping with his character’s age. Arjun Kapoor remains ineffective and forgettable as the sulky lover.
Finding Fanny could have been a trippy ride but lacks sufficient adventure. It is only when the end credits roll that you might want to ‘shake your bootiya’.

Friday, 5 September 2014


Two things-Iodex and our national anthem-ruin whatever little involvement there is with the true life of boxing champion, Mary Kom. The former makes you see Priyanka Chopra switch from Manipuri, boxer woman, Mary, to Priyanka the model, wearing an off shoulder top, promoting the oldest balm around, Iodex. The latter forces you out of your seat to join the patriotic moment, in a bid to salute the spirit of five time world amateur boxing champion, Mary Kom.
The film, Mary Kom, is scattered with moments like these. Throughout, you switch between strong glimpses of the real and feisty Mary Kom in Priyanka’s performance and Priyanka, the star. When she talks and sometimes screams in frustration in Manipuri sounding Hindi, the emotions touch a deep chord. When she holds up her red-gloved hands and dons a red headgear, juts out her over full lips and throws punch after punch at her opponent in the boxing ring, it is the well-orchestrated scene that pulls you in and be part of the cheering crowd. When she suffers the deepest humiliation at the hands of a selection committee secretary, Sharmaji (her lone, slim, black suited back (wonderful dramatic shot), and somehow reminds you of the starry charisma of Shah Rukh Khan. You now root for Priyanka the star and actor, not Mary Kom, the champion and mother struggling to regain lost sports stardom.
As far as Biopic comparisons go, Mary Kom has a far more superior storytelling than Bhaag Milkha Bhaag. The entire credit here goes to the first time director, Omung Kumar and his writer, Saiwyn Qadras. Perhaps, also some to Sanjay Leela Bhansali, creative producer, for not influencing the film with his fantasy sets. The use of realistic local actors lend an authentic tone to the film. In terms of actual events and incidents, there is very little material to dramatise about Mary Kom. Her conflicts are those faced by every woman who wants to be an achiever; those of a daughter going against her father’s (Robin Das) will, a wife against her coach, Narjit Singh (Sunil Thapa), a mother against her innate motherhood challenges.
The film opens in a curfew hit Manipur. A heavily pregnant Mary is in the throes of labour while husband, Onler (Darshan Kumar, cute and believable) struggles to get her to a hospital amidst riots and police firings. The screenplay jars as it moves back and forth from Mary’s own childhood and her strong desire to learn boxing much against her father, a simple rice farmer. When she does move on to winning her first Gold despite a meager diet of Government sponsored ‘kela and chai’, it comes across, like a predictably orchestrated proud lump-in –the –throat moment when her father sits along with other villagers, in front of the TV, cheering her on.
The film moves on to Mary Kom’s marriage and motherhood affecting her career. There are dramatic and powerful moments thrown in, to bring out anti Manipur biases amongst selection committees. Priyanka is at her best here, frustration and anger writ in her face and voice. Scenes showing Priyanka as a mother, feeding two twin babies and fretting over their well being, are a little unconvincing and more amusing than anything else; particularly one where Priyanka is shown with one baby tied against each shoulder, at the back.
Just don’t go expecting to see the real Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom in Priyanka Chopra. Instead, enjoy an inspired story that deserves to be told. With Bollywood embellishments.


Picture this. A corrupt businessman calls his wife a trophy wife at a club. She smiles and pretends all is well. Soon they drive back. He drives drunk, she is at the edge and clearly unhappy. Later, she is in the kitchen, talking on the phone. She hangs up, turns around and freezes at the sight of two masked men with a gun and a knife. A car drives up the house backyard. A young man walks in, puts on romantic music, pours out two glasses of wine and walks to her bedroom. The door opens to reveal three masked faces, two of them holding one at a knife’s level. This is the first time when the newbie kidnappers realize; they have botched the job somewhat.

Later comes the bigger hurdle both they and the wife had not bargained for.
The wife, Mickey (Jennifer Aniston) is clueless of her husband’s wealth stashed away in secret bank accounts. She also doesn’t know that her husband, Dawson (Tim Robbins) is cavorting with his mistress, Melanie (Isla Fisher) while she is tied up in some hole with three unknown men. The third is a creepy, bearded fat man (Mark Boone Jr) who peeps through the bathroom hole every time she is inside. What she does to him, as a result, (signifying her character transition too), is a hilarious and gratifying moment in the film.
Soon the small time, fumbling first time kidnappers, Robbie (Yaslin Bey) and Louis (John Hawkes) realize Dawson may not cough up the ransom of one million dollars for his not so dear wife.
Those familiar with the crime novelist, Elmore Leonard’s work (out of Sight, Jackie Brown, Get Shorty) will enjoy Life of Crime, the latest adaptation of his novel, “The Switch”, set in Detroit of the Seventies.
The pace is leisurely. The tone is casual. The humour is ample, in small doses. The characters are convincingly real; a little wicked, a little human. The unlikely ones who capture an amusing shade of weakness and evil are Marshall (Will Forte), a spineless wannabe adulterer and Richard (Mark Boone), a pervert with Nazi fetish. Then there is Melanie, the mistress who takes the kidnappers’ threatening phone calls with the nonchalance of someone who answers mild pests from call centers.
The most disappointing parts unfortunately are the scenes involving Hawkes and Bey as harmless criminals. There is very little they do to keep the script either funny or tense. Jennifer Aniston, locked up in most parts, is fairly convincing and not too dramatic as the cute and ignorant wife with occasional nerves of steel.
By the time, the twist comes in the end, it is predictable yet perfect. Life of Crime is neither edgy nor laugh out loud funny. Nevertheless, very much enjoyable.