Talking Movies

Talking Movies
Talking movies

Friday, 27 February 2015


Nana Patekar at 64, has never looked more sexy, more at ease, lithe limbed and like his character, acted as deliciously eccentric.
Ab Tak Chappan 2 keeps both his trademark humour and tough as a nut encounter cop image alive along with the original events of the first film.
Earlier, Shimit Amin’s debut directorial, produced by Ram Gopal Verma, starring Nana, had made a great first unforgettable impression. So much so that Amin went on to direct the hugely successful Chak De India, soon after.
Considering the first film’s impact,the sequel made by another debut director, Aejaz Gulab and produced by Raju Chadda, is more faithful to the original as far as namesake sequels milking their brand values go.
Sadly, the story is as old and predictable as any Indian politician. Yet, what makes it entirely watchable is Nana himself.
There is a candid scene in which Nana’s immediate junior  (Ashutosh Rana), very much in keeping with similar inter department jealousy, earlier; shows him a newspaper picture in which Nana is in “focus” and the rest of the cop team “out of focus”. Nana tells him it barely matters and there is a heavy price to pay for his image too. Then he further ribs Rana adding casually that he is quite cable of shooting his own colleagues by mistake during a shootout. The words used are “thok diya”.
That’s Sadhu Agashe for you; he can play pranks like none other.
Going back to the price, Sadhu has paid it with the loss of his wife (Revathy), shot in front of him, in the prequel. The film touches upon his sadness and his deep guilt, right in the beginning, thus building a connect with the past story seen in the original.
The film opens to show how Sadhu has given up his cop’s life and lives a retired life in Goa with his young son as self-punishment. He goes fishing in the mornings, cooks his prize catch later, plays marbles with street kids and peels fresh coconuts like a pro. His son plays the piano at home and the two reminisce over the dead wife’s (Revathy) beautiful poems.
It’s a tranquil life on the surface. Like still waters with undercurrents running deep. Until, a home minister decides to throw a stone in the lovely Goa waters and create life threatening ripples once again in his life by getting him back on a new assignment to wipe out two warring gangsters: one of whom is Raj Zutshi.
Zutshi is in hiding, abroad and runs his mafia from his wheel chair. He keeps calling up Nana and the two have such friendly banter that it makes the hidden menace from the past, even more thrilling.
So far, so good. The characters are well established, with humour, with some nice lines and of course, Nana’s characteristic honesty mixed with eccentricity. Like fish in coconut gravy.
As soon as Sadhu is back in action, the film takes on a roller coaster speed of twists and turns, fights and murders. The scenes have some realistic cop-victim chases in locales like boats and tabelas. Nana, strong as a coconut tree, on the run, with his gun, and a few high jumps, is better than Salman Khan and Akshay Kumar put together. Without their pelvic thrusts and filmy stunts.
However, post interval, the treadmill pace of the film gets as predictable as the next day’s newspaper and the climax, when it comes, fails to have the impact, the original was famous for.
A motley of interesting supporting cast like Ashutosh Rana, Raj Zutshi, Gul Panag and Govind Namdeo (underused) make the story as believable as they can. Vikram Gokhale as a more central character fails to keep the tension going, which largely affects the downhill plot.
It is sad, that Nana Patekar, just like his character, is dismissive of his powerful talent. Or perhaps the commercial film Industry is. He could so easily be on par with, if not better than overexposed Amitabh Bachchan.
Ab Tak Chappan 2 does a bad job with the plot but a great job of reminding you of true Nana rocking power.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


The opening statically shot scene of Badlapur doesn’t get better than this. Neither does the end.
You just wish that the film in between, had a more definitive momentum, thrill and tension; glimpsed only during a  fabulously executed, cold murder sequence with a hammer.
The director, Sriram Raghavan, has a penchant for anti-hero films. His first two films, Ek Haseena Thi, starring Saif Ali Khan in a negative role, and Johnny Gaddar, stood out for their uniquely wicked narratives. Badlapur is no different.
Badlapur, despite its common story of revenge, follows an interesting format, not explored often in Bollywood. There is ample humour to lighten up the film’s somber tone, with some good lines (Reference to Mumbai’s “Maratha Mandir’ is a case in point).
For starters, the villain, Laik (Nawazuddin Siddique) is actually funny. He is almost likeable and even has a lovely little love story. The more likeable he gets as the film progresses, the more unlikeable, the hero, Raghu (Varun Dhawan) gets.
Ditto with the actors but more on that, later.
Raghu is a white collared ad-man whose wife (Yami Gautam, powerful and brief) and child get brutally killed in a bank robbery chase. This part is so realistically shot, that it grips you with its shocking brutality.
Unfortunately, the film loosens its hold as it gets carried away with Laik’s shameless character and his funny antics, right till the interval. Nothing happens for a long while.
Then, all of a sudden, with the arrival of a cool and smooth Vinay Pathak, Badlapur, comes alive. With gusto and grit. This kind of uneven pacing takes away from the very raison d'ĂȘtre of the film.
Raghu, in the meanwhile, suddenly and inexplicably, transforms from a regular common guy, into a revenge seeking, violent man who will not stop at even screwing a prostitute (Huma Qureshi), Laik’s love interest.
In fact, it is his interactions with women that are at once fascinating and disgusting. And there are two more: an NGO activist, (Divya Dutta) and Koko (Radhika Apte) the wife of Laik’s crime partner.
Radhika Apte, known in Marathi cinema, is an unsuspecting scene stealer of Badlapur. In a riveting performance, she shows how she can take off her clothes on screen and yet bring out only a feeling of abject desperation of her character.
While, with scenes like these, Raghu’s ugly and ruthless face of revenge, comes forth; the empathy factor for his personal grief over his wife’s death for 15 long years, locked in a room in a fictitious place called Badlapur, declines steadily.
Varun Dhawan’s complete lack of intensity doesn’t help much either. His beard is not enough to cover his youthful and expressionless face. There is simply no trace of anger or pain in his eyes or body language.
Little wonder, then that Badlapur remains unintentionally, Nawazuddin’s film. He steals both the thunder and the laughs and even a tear in a small moment with Huma. A 70s style background music score accompanying his release from jail, is like a brownie bonus.
By the time Badlapur ends, it does succeed in reminding you of Shakespeare’s:
 “Murder’s out of tune
And sweet revenge grows harsh.” 


Wild begins fairly well. We see a vast, wide, rough, mountainous terrain and hear a woman’s loud, heavy panting. A heavy, booted foot lands on the edge of a rock. The woman (Reese Witherspoon) collapses with a loud groan of pain and relief.
Her shoulder length blonde hair is straight and scraggly. Her sweaty skin looks as sun beaten as a dry leaf. Her simple Tee shirt and shorts reveal a strong and not so sexy body. Basically, very normal, very human and very unstarry and un‘Legally Blonde’. She takes off her shoes. The sight of a broken, bleeding toenail makes one wince as much in pain as her.
Then, a shoe falls off the rock. And you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop throughout the movie, in a way more original than any thousand-mile trek. Actually, a real documented trek by a regular trekker, might be more interesting and adventurous than this lone glorification of the healing of a single woman’s pain.
Wild goes on and on about how much pain there is in Cheryl’s life caused by her mother’s death and divorce. Interspersed with too many flashbacks of childhood and growing up, without much detail on her marriage; the two hour introspective narrative, similar to Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, grips only during mundane struggles with a huge haversack and tents and small gas stoves.
Based on the writer, Cheryl Strayed’s memoir, the film, written by Nick Hornby, is a lone woman’s journey of healing and a slice of modern feminism.
Cheryl has grown up with an abusive father and a strong cancer stricken mother (Laura Dern) who brings her up along with her brother, with much love and lots of dance and music in the kitchen to keep her spirits up. But Cheryl’s own inner strength comes to the forth only after she numbs herself with heroin filled days and nights of hook-ups with strangers. She decides to finally take charge and move on by venturing into the wild, unknown Pacific trail from south California to Oregano.
Throughout the slow and painful trudge, her slim shoulders bent with a huge and heavy, blue haversack; metaphorically carry the painful baggage of her deep sorrow of the past.
However, every flashback seems contrived and the pain more artificial. The only thing that looks real is Witherspoon’s own looks and performance.
Perhaps, the 1100-mile hike may be worth it for her nomination to the Oscars after her phenomenal Walk The Line.
But it’s not reason enough for the audiences to enjoy Wild.

Friday, 13 February 2015


Question: How is the film?
Answer: Slow.
Question: If it’s a romantic thriller, how can it be slow?
Answer: It tries to be romantic and it tries to be mysterious. Actually, it tries really hard. Then it becomes a trying experience to figure out what it’s trying to say.
Question: How is Ranbir Kapoor?
Answer: He is there but not there.
Question: Is it a guest appearance?
Answer: No. It’s been credited as a “dynamic appearance”.
Question: Meaning?
Answer: He is there throughout but not really there.
Question: Why did he do the film?
Answer: Because the writer and director, Vikramjit Singh, is his childhood friend.
Question: What’s Roy about?
Answer: A filmmaker, Kabir (Arjun Rampal) announces his third film, “Gun part 3”, inspired by a real, faceless thief who is never caught (Ranbir). The only hitch is that Kabir doesn’t have a story or a script. So he wears a hat, sits at his old world typewriter, wipes a fish bowl, pets his dog every night and waits for inspiration to strike. One day, he sets his eyes on Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez) at a swimming pool in a swanky hotel in Malaysia. Kabir has finally got his muse. But Ayesha is not so amused.
Question: And Roy?
Answer: Oh, at first, he is seen as a thief hiding in the bushes. Then he is seen romancing Ayesha who looks both hot and mysterious in a bright red lipstick. Then he disappears. Then he is totally forgotten until he reappears. I guess that’s what “dynamic appearance” means.
Question: Ayesha falls in love with a thief instead of the sexy Kabir?
Answer: Oh, that’s not Ayesha. That’s her look alike, a very close lookalike actress inspired by Ayesha. She is Tia.
Question: So it’s the story of Ranbir and Tia?
Answer: No, Tia is inspired by Ayesha in Kabir’s life.
Question: So is it Kabir’s story?
Answer: Yes.
Question: How is he?
Answer: He looks sexy in the swimming pool but ridiculous in a hat in front of the typewriter.
Question: How is his acting?
Answer: His looks are distr-acting.
Question: How is Jacqueline as Ayesha?
Answer: She looks hot too. She even breaks into a ballet on the beach. Very graceful. Don’t ask about her acting. She is not here for that, anyway.
Question: Is she a dancer?
Answer: No she is a small time filmmaker whose film “Malay Diaries” wins an award at a film festival. But she tells Kabir that she always wanted to do ballet.
Question: So what happens to the thief?
Answer: What thief? Oh, Roy flits from playing the character in Kabir’s film to himself. He steals paintings in the film as well as within the film. When the two merge, is anybody’s guess. The idea of the two ‘Roys’ was interesting but it ends up about two Jacquelines: one who feeds horses and the other who has a tattoo on the neck.
Question: So is the film about both Kabir and Roy?
Answer: I don’t know really. In the film the characters keep saying, “ sawaal ek hi rehte hain. Bas,jawab badalte rehte hain.” That sounded like a good line but am not sure what they were asking each other. Pretty much like the questions here. They would also talk in the same manner. Every single dialogue was preceded by long thoughtful pauses; as if they were about to say something deep.
Question: Do they?
Answer: There are some good lines. Spoken by good-looking people in stunningly shot locales. Only, no one knows why they are doing whatever they are doing.
Question: If everyone was so clueless, how did they do the film?
Answer: Even the filmmaker in the film doesn’t know. At one point Kabir’s colleague, Shehnaz Patel says, ”Thank God it’s over.”And Kabir replies, ”yeh film ban kaise gayi?”
Now, if only one could have an answer to that.

Friday, 6 February 2015


Amitabh Sinha (Amitabh Bachchan)’s loyal caretaker calls him “Jahanpanah”. It’s not explained why and how the royal looking alcoholic relic is addressed thus. But the title does suit him to the J.
Therein lies writer and director, R Balki’s own filmmaking arrogance and diehard faith in his one and only legendary hero of Hindi cinema.
Shamitabh is the Cheeni Kum and Paa director’s most creative, original and indulgent tribute to Amitabh Bachchan and his famous baritone.
Amitabh Bachchan has been unfailingly loved for the amazing way he uses his voice, especially in drunken scenes. What can be better than to give him a character that epitomizes both? Balki knows that, uses it with a sharp writing wit and also shows exactly how well he also knows Bachchan’s each and every expression of arrogance and mocking humour that come across delightfully through the familiar glint in the eyes.
Bachchan is Amitabh Sinha, a 70 something alcoholic relic who lives in a graveyard. Only he looks more royal than anyone else, in mildly shabby white linen clothes and thick white straight locks on his forehead. Despite his tottering walk and penniless existence, Amitabh looks more larger than life than his character, Shahenshah. Little wonder then that he is called “Jahanpanah”; especially when he delivers a classic Mughal-e-Azam line. The impact is a delightful symphony to the ears that deserves a big applause.
Bachchan continues to play to the happy fan filled gallery with lines like, “yeh awaaz ek kutte ke muh se bhi bhi achchi lagegi” and “meri awaaz ka vajan isse (Dhanush) zyada hai”. We couldn’t agree more.
Yet it is the skinny “monkey faced” Dhanush as his assistant director, (Akshara) calls him; who makes the film quite endearing and watchable. Dhanush is Daanish, a mute and poor village boy who wants to be a superstar. He believes that all he needs is a voice. Not a six pack abs or a great face; but a voice. Miraculously, he finds a new medical technology that can help him get a voice through someone who will shadow him throughout his shoots. More miraculously, he finds none other than “God’s own voice” as Rekha puts it in a “special appearance”.
Once you adjust to all the unbelievable miracles, you start enjoying the hate relationship between Daanish and Amitabh and the size of ‘Sh” in Danish’s new name ‘Shamitabh”. The amusing play on the name symbolizing each one’s ego and a most aptly dramatized version of ‘what’s in a name’, follows.
Akshara plays a tireless mediator between the two. Why she helps Danish at all in the first place, is rather unconvincing and the real spoiler in the story and screenplay. Her cute looks, unglamorous and earnest debut is delightfully winsome, though.
A melodramatic turn of events towards the end, dampens the experience, but not enough to bother too much.
Dhanush carries off his role, non-existential looks and lack of voice and lines, so well that he stands shoulder to taller AB shoulder, with great pizzaz and charm.
If Cheeni Kum made Amitabh Bachchan undeniably sexy at 60, Shamitabh succeeds in making him the coolest 70 plus actor who can arrest your attention, just sitting on a commode, singing.
Ilaiyaraaja’s catchy song “pidli si baatein..” is the best picturised, situational song that clubs both the movie’s characters and Hindi cinema’s make believe world, together, hilariously well.
Shamitabh is exactly like the song: as entertaining as it is unbelievable.