Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 31 October 2014


It does not matter if Super Nani is a film worth watching. It is a one-woman show with a true Bollywood rock star taking centre stage.
When Rekha with bowed head and timid tone, plays maid, nanny and doormat to an overbearing family that includes a complete non-actor like Randhir Kapoor, she deserves all the accolades, just for her complete submission to a ridiculous role, like a true, devoted actor.
When Rekha makes a comeback in her trademark long wavy, thick hair, big red bindi, sindoor, long sleeved blouses, flawless makeup that refuses to reveal a single aging line, she remains the most ‘khoobsurat’ diva on screen.
When Rekha transforms into a ‘modern’ woman, she could easily be the mistress of makeovers and stand as a shining example for all the housewives, moms and grandmoms who hold the thankless job of running a home.
When Rekha delivers the filmiest of dialogues in that ageless husky voice, exactly like the heroine she has always been, she could teach every actor including Big B, a thing or two. Her final roar,“ maano to hum kumkum jaise, na maano to hum raakh se” deserves the loudest clap for the most perfect modulation of the most theatrical 90’s “Beta” like lines.
When Rekha dons various stunning looks in larger than life characters that include Anarkali, she looks the most ravishing, when grime is strategically painted on her face, while playing Nargis’s Mother India and washing utensils. This is beauty at its best.
When Rekha enacts the inevitable scene that mentions her most favourite man, she once again plays up to her naughty and cute, famous obsession. Her “HAAIN” is better than AB style.
When Rekha plays the most unconvincing role in a film with an outdated , loud treatment, and yet carries it effortlessly on her dignified, beautiful shoulders, along with equally remarkable Sharman Joshi and Anupam Kher, you want to salute this humongously brave lady.
This Grand Young Lady deserves every award and salute, for her sheer, actor’s sizzling spirit and never say die, dazzling beauty.

Thursday, 30 October 2014


Murder mysteries are probably easier to solve than spouses who sleep next to you. “What are you thinking? What are you feeling?” These can be potent questions that haunt marriages made in hell.
The screenwriter, of “Gone Girl”, Gillian Flynn, who adapts from her own bestselling novel; clearly enjoys sinking her teeth into the unsolvable and drawing blood. So do you. Every single moment in this 145-minute thriller, keeps you glued, riveted, engrossed and fascinated.
When a married woman goes missing, it can work as a delicious edge of the seat thriller on two levels: a murder mystery as well as a mental trial of a husband and a wife. Is she dead? Did he kill her? The questions playing seesaw move on to deeper questions. Who was right? Who was the wronged one? And ultimately, the best one. Who wins?
Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck), a former freelance writer who runs a bar with his sister in Missourie, finds his wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike) missing on their fifth wedding anniversary. As the detectives start working on the case, Amy’s point of view is shown through her diary notes starting from the time she met Nick. The screenplay slips neatly into two sides: his and hers. The case soon becomes a media trial, with an entire township in Missouri turning into volunteers helping in the search of missing Amy.
He is seen initially, almost like a victim who was deeply unhappy in his marriage. He thinks she is “complicated”. His twin sister reads that as “bitch”.
She is seen as a gorgeous rich girl who has just met the love of her life. Her diary reveals that they were the best-married couple for the first two years. Soon, it is she who is the victim.
Drops of blood and random evidences throw up suspicions of her murder. The case is in full media glare by now. Amy is declared the real victim and Nick, the cheating husband who could well be the murderer.
A well placed, brilliantly shot and perfectly performed twist playing to the most compelling “cool girl” lines (reason enough to read the novel),takes the film into more than whodunit areas. The tension in the shifting narrative gets tauter, tighter and thicker. The characters get more and more layered. Obvious routes, explore dearlier in pulp novels, are taken, only to lead to better and more wicked places and “War of the Roses” territory.
A marriage bedroom and bathroom, are brilliantly used locations. The famous, Hitchcock’s Psycho shower scene, is turned around, like a sharp, freezing spray of cold-blooded water. This remarkable scene is as naked as it can get, both visually and symbolically, about marriages and ugly truths. David Fincher, known for “Seven” and “The Social Network”, is in his element here. Topped with a magical score, slickly shot and edited, the film smoothly captures the dark, the macabre and the unspoken.
The actors, especially Roasamund Hyke, play the perfect, mysterious victims, each. Hyke, deserving of an Oscar, reminds you of Sharon Stone’s aloof sexy presence in Basic Instinct. Affleck at his best keeps it subtle, ambiguous and appeals to the right emotions. Carry Coone as his concerned and loyal, twin sister and Kim Dickens, as the detective who plays fair, make the story believable.
Gone Girl is as delightfully wicked and beautifully packaged Hitchcockian and Sidney Sheldon pulp, as it can get. The more you chew on it, the more delicious are the bloody juices.


“This is the best job I’ve ever had.” A crew of five American soldiers fighting an entire battalion of Germans, keep repeating this to themselves, every time they fight tooth, nail, guns, bombs, cannons from the shell-dusty confines of their ‘home’-a war tank called ‘fury’.
Starring Brad Pitt, this World War II film takes a hard lined, gritty look at Allies relentlessly attacking and battling their way through Nazi Germany. Dirt, grime, scars and bullet marks define each of the five soldiers, led by ‘war daddy’ (Pitt) surviving through North African campaign. They are joined by a young, typist rookie; Norman (Logan Lerman) recruited 8 weeks back.
The raw war virgin is disgusted by the ruthless killings and refuses to participate. War daddy takes it upon himself to force the novice to take to a gun like his former typewriter. The clich├ęd yet likeable bonding and the transformation of the two (Pitt starts addressing him as ‘son’) along with the other three who curse, quote the Bible and joke around when not fighting, form the crux of the rest of the story.
A lovely, long sequence of a semi forced romance with violent undercurrents, between Norman and a German girl, aided by war daddy, serves as a perfect counterpart to the plot. A brief time at the piano is evocative of what peace looks like, even if it is illusional or temporary in the war ravaged country. This scene lifts the film above an average war film.
The story moves to an explosive climax where the motley crew stuck inside their sole weapon-the Sherman tank turned furnace-find themselves facing a 300 men German army. A small, silent interlude with just the rustle of leaves heightens the danger ahead, faced by the five-soldier family. Heroism and bravery mark this grand horrifying war film, written and directed by David Ayer. Action, horror of dead bodies and blood are smoothly balanced out by the underlying thick human emotion throughout the weary journey across the German countryside.
Those who enjoy war movies and Brad Pitt as a middle-aged war veteran, might want to sit through Fury. But the point remains typically Hollywood: Americans are good and Germans are bad. How much of that, one wants to buy, is a question of choice.

Monday, 27 October 2014


 “Theek se dekhyega,Shahrukh ke 10 pack abs hain.”says Nephew A, all of 13.

“Nahin, 8 pack hain.” Says Nephew B, all of 16.

Auntyji (me) stares hard at the subject of intense discussion.1…2..3.. she gets quickly distracted by the famous eyes. Those confident, intelligent eyes which know exactly which expression turns on millions of fans around the world. If only, oh if only, auntyji could also whistle like the rest of the ‘public’ in a theatre called Jeetendra in a small town called Bokaro Steel city, Jharkhand.

Point to be noted: 6 or 8 or 10,any pack abs do work. Even if they don’t belong to Salman Khan. For that matter, they work on Sonu Sood too. There… the loud whistles go again, one shriller than the other. Much to auntyji’s surprise and delight because she always had a soft corner for the actors with ‘character’ roles, the ones who move to fame and glory through sheer talent. His shirt automatically tears off those muscles at the mention of “maa”.

Another point to be noted.It’s all about mothers in Bollywood.Maa and cine-maa go hand in hand. Dabangg used both the tricks quite well: meri maa(who was killed),mera baap(who didn’t love me).

Time for the next whistle and whoop(W&W) round. No prizes for guessing. None other than the dimpled and sizzling Deepak Padukone has made her grand entry. Her star power seems to match King Khan’s, going by the whoop decibels. Soon, a long silence follows. There she is gyrating around a pole, dressed in her boldest and scantiest dance bar costume. The strategically placed camera on her long legs (interesting that the director is a woman and does not bother with subtlety) heightens the mood and excitement. The “public” is still quiet. So are the nephews. Is it shock or is it embarrassment? Their Chennai Express diva does not quite seem to fit the image of ‘good girl” heroine.

Suddenly, the whoops begin again. The Om Shanti Om girl is making eyes at the hero. His English is like Cupid’s arrow. Well, his eyes are certainly throwing enough love darts to make every female fan melt. At some point, the Marathi leggy girl pats him. His ass is on fire. Farah’s brand of romantic humour from ‘Main Hoon Na’, is working its magic again. The violinists have been replaced by fireworks.This is hot stuff. Whoops!

 One more round of whistles. OH, Abhishek Bachchan is doing a naagin dance. Auntyji looks at AB with new eyes and nods in approval. Yes, he can laugh at himself. That’s a smart boy.

Time for the loudest W&W. ‘Yeh mera India’:the patriotic sentiment, NEVER EVER, EVER EVER, NEVER EVER, fails to work. Subhash Ghai knew that. Farah Khan knows that. So what, if the song “ Indiawaale” is not all that foot tapping. It gets the whoops going. This time for the country. Even if it is at some silly dance competition against Korea and US amongst others.

India rocks. India works. India is the best. King Khan and queen of irreverence, Farah Khan know this emotion runs thick at the box office.Why bother with the plot?

It’s time the anti Bollywood critic in us, accepts it and enjoys it. It’s time to just have a blast. Like the rest of Bokaro and small town India.

Thursday, 2 October 2014


‘Chutzpah’is a fascinating word.It is discussed at length by Haider (Shahid Kapoor) in one of his rare,lighter moments. This comes as a huge relief as Shakespeare’s Hamlet is otherwise a brooding,philosophical character who is forever unsure, introspective, indecisive and passive.
You can have fun,even, when telling the world’s most famous tragedy,Hamlet, seen on screen the world over, at least a dozen times. You can even be poetic in poignancy.And you can display the most bizarre humour in the most unlikely scenario.That’s the director,Vishal Bhardwaj’s ‘chutzpah’.
So when a couple of grave diggers dig a grave in Kashmir’s snow-clad graveyard,they merrily sing, “aao na,ki jaan gayi…”. They beckon death yet Bhardwaj’s music is anything but ominous. The gravediggers lie down inside and say in jest to Haider, “come dig your own grave”. A perfect icy setting for cold and naked truths about death.Here,Haider picks up a skull and renders most casually one of the most famous Hamlet scenes. You are reminded, one of the writers is Shakespeare. The other two are Bhardwaj and Basharat Peer.
Soon when a dead body is brought into a snow clad graveyard and Haider (Shahid Kapoor) enquires,the gravediggers reply,matter of fact,“hoga koimurda”.The deadpan humour changes instantly to the most painful moment when Haider sees the dead body.A sudden turn of events leads to a most pulsating, tension filled sequence.Yet again,Bhardwaj cannot resist a light moment.The gravediggers sing a line again…’aao na’..this time beckoning the enemy in a shootout.
Death is clearly, not to be feared,but mocked at.
Haider, a third in Bhardwaj’s brave adaptations of Shakespearean tragedies, after Maqbool (Macbeth) and Omkara (Othello), is probably the most mellow among the three. Both the violence and the language,as compared to the first two films,are more subdued and subtle.If the abusive hinterland lingo in Omkaraor the Urdu infused dialogues in Maqbool,took centrestage in the writing, it is a marvel that there is more of poetry which flows like Kashmir’s river,Jhelum,in the third of the trilogy.
The gentle language and the deceptively mild tone of the film offset the volatile backdrop of the story: Kashmir in 1995.Haider is a student in Aligarh, born to a Kashmir based doctor who loves poetry.He comes to Kashmir in search of his father who mysteriously disappears after the army capture him. When he sees his mother, Ghazala (Tabu, Gertrude) singing and laughing with his father’s brother (Kay Kay Menon, Claudius), he sets off, tormented, alone to find his father. His childhood girlfriend, Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor, Ophelia) who keeps a diary of poems he has written to her,is his only support.However,her father
and brother oppose their liaison.
There are so many strong threads running through the basic Hamlet plot and Kashmir’s history that the weaving at times leaves a few holes.So we see Hamlet’s initial broodiness transform into a level of madness in Haider who starts looking the part with his shaved head, clownish headgear, enigmatic mannerisms and weird antics.Kashmir’s inherent issues come forth in his mad speeches. The best use of the line “to be or not to be’ is seen in a larger political context.Haider and other Kashmiris including “half widows” stand in protest against the militancy, waiting to hear about their missing relatives. The slogan cry is , “hum hai ke hum nahin”.
However,the Kashmiri issue ends up as too light a backdrop as Haider’s complicated relationship with his mother (integral to Hamlet) takes over the entire plot.While this is used brilliantly to change Hamlet’s ending,it would have been really powerful, had the message sent out finally,been built up throughout the screenplay.
Bhardwaj’s casting as usual is impeccable and each actor slips into their Kashmiri skin and most complicated minds seen on screen.Tabu reigns like a queen of cinema,a scale of emotions mapping her intense face and wrapping you into her complex and contradicting world of deceit and loyalty.There is immense sensitivity and poignancy in the way she and Shahid become a couple and a mother and son at once.The sexual tension between the two somehow easily moves into a painful,unabiding protective love of a mother and son, made most poignant in a particular telephone scene between the two.
Shahid Kapoor essays the mad and the sane Hamlet, the jealous and possessive son and vulnerable lover,with unaffected and controlled ease.Shraddha more than matches him and Tabu in their histrionics and delivers a remarkably real performance as the innocent Kashmiri girl willing to do anything for love.Her Arshia is far more winsome than Hamlet’s Ophelia.
Both Kay Kay Menon and his characterization disappoints as he is made more human than needed. Irrfan Khan as Roohdar (King Hamlet partly)is an interesting adaptation to the original and in keeping with the Kashmiri backdrop. He stays almost as invisible as ‘rooh’ or Hamlet’s ghost with his unassuming performance.A brief appearance with Tabu in the same frame is deeply reminiscent of the magnificent pair they makeon screen.
Bhardwaj’s music, Gulzar’s lyrics and Rekha Bhardwaj’s melodious voice well timed in the end, complete this timeless tragedy.
Haider is a riveting watch at best. “Main rahoon ke main nahin” will sit heavy on the heart for a while.