Movie Review: Padmaavat

Dropping the “i” from the title didn’t provide much relief to the Karni Sena am guessing,  but it certainly generated more buzz around an already buzzing hive of wasps and hornets.

But getting back to the movie- it’s epic! In its grandiosity, its conception and sadly, its mediocrity. And yet, it still works. And how!

IMHO despite being the eponymous character, Deepika doesn’t have as much screen time as one would think. She occupies screen time in dialogues uttered by other characters and hers is a stiff upper lip that Brits may kill for. She runs and glides along wearing a steely resolve and heavy ghaghras and looks pretty. She is stoic in the face of widowhood, childish and raw in the face of love and courtship and soppy in the arms of her husband at times. But hey..I didn’t live all those years ago..who am I judge how Rajput women conducted themselves. Maybe I should ask the Karni Sena *taps chin ponderingly*

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Shahid Kapoor- he’s a hunk with a body that’s made to be flaunted and the kolh-rimmed eyes are HOT! But in the role of the honor-bound Rawal who is the upholder of values, traditions and legacy of the clan, he falls short. He isn’t believable after a point. You keep waiting for him to finish speaking so Ranveer gets to repartee. And repartee him good!

Ranveer Singh- the mainstay. The obsession, the mockery, the clowning around and the utter disdain for anything beyond his own hedonistic pleasure is brought to life by this man. It’s highly dramatic, that’s true, but the other male leads in Bollywood (barring Aamir Khan) don’t really have the acting chops to pull off this kind of lunacy and bullheadedness on-screen.

Jim Sarbh- with his sly gestures and words (and good looks) the character of Malik Kafur is quite entertainingly portrayed by this Parsi hunk. Now I want to see Death in the Gunj as well to see how he tackles different roles.

i-like-people-who-dont-fear-death-laughing-colours-trying-29371441I have wanted to see the movie for a while now. Just held myself back because watching in a movie hall meant no fast forwarding of songs I didn’t want to sit through. Lo and behold! Amazon came to the rescue. Since I’d visited Chittorgarh town and fort eons ago; watching a dramatized version of what may have happened there, with dollops of creative licenses taken with the lives of the original characters had pinged my curious nerve a few times.

Am glad I gave into the impulse to watch it because it is entertaining. It’s longish, it’s slow, it’s got bits that didn’t need to make the final cut- like the Bin Te Dil song. It’s a good peppy song but to devote screen time to it wasn’t entirely the best call. It’d already been established that in the movie Khilji was a womanizer and took his pleasures where he could find them. It was just more time of seeing Malik Kafur (Jim Sarbh) lust after Khilji while still doing his hedonistic bidding.

So what does recommend this movie? The scale on which things have been conceptualized and carried is quite a lot to take in when you see how movies are used to being made in India. The acting isn’t the worst part of it either. It sticks to what is required- drama, drama and more drama. It’s not just grand, it’s grandiose but it does evoke interest, curiosity and a feeling of paisa wasool. So go on and stream it…it’s worth one bowl of popcorn.

 

Movie Review: Pari

Image result for pari movie poster

This movie is Prosit Roy’s love affair with the older parts of Calcutta, the bits that make it stand apart from every other city in India. It is strangely enough, also an ode to the nail cutter and umbrellas. Never has the humble implement of hand and foot hygiene received so much spotlight neither, for that matter, has so much water fallen on the city of Calcutta.

I fully expect the sales of nail cutters and umbrellas to go through the roof post people watching the movie.

The devil is invoked. He of the run-of -the-mill horned-head fame and blood thirst, comes (excuse the pun) and impregnates women (poor, low-income…take your pick) whose gestation period lasts for all of one month (the only bright spot in the movie) and then a belly button-less and umbilical cord-less child comes forth into the world. Their goal? To increase the progeny of their father. But all banality aside, the Devil needs his flesh and blood to aid in eventual world domination. The world domination bit isn’t referred to but why be the Devil if you can’t rule over the world, am I right?

That in a nutshell is Pari. The tagline claims that it’s not a fairy tale but fairy tales are replete with angst-ridden, unhappy characters who utter curses as easily as they breathe.

So why is this movie not a write-off? Because the cinematography sets the tone and mood of the entire movie without having to resort to cheap gimmicks of blood and gore to live up the “horror” genre.

The by-lanes of Calcutta, the moss-laden walls, the sooty shutters and a slightly sleepy, lethargic ambience lull you into the story only to be jarred from the calm and into the world of the preternatural. Compared to RGV’s Bhoot and movies of it’s ilk, Pari doesn’t rely on a sudden loud noise which has you clutching your heart in fear.

Anushka Sharma’s vulnerability makes you wish the bad juju doesn’t catch up with her and gulp her down. This movie is Anushka’s vehicle but she has to work at being creepy and you feel sorry for her plight. She can be de-glam but she still has to nail being ferocious.

The rest of the cast is passable with Mansi Multani (Kalapori) and Rajat Kapoor standing out for their respective roles. They are by turns creepy, scary and the chief ingredients needed to bring in a bit of shiveriness to an otherwise droll “horror” movie. Kapoor with his fake eye, stoic and almost amused-countenance is a true reflection on how normal people can become evangelical and take on a mantle of evil themselves under the guise of the greater good.

The role of the crone playing Kaali Pori (Mansi Multani) has been enacted well with her entry coming in sporadically to scare the life out of Anushka. That and her sing song voice while she plays the conduit for the demon is well portrayed.

The male lead-Parambrata and Ritabhari (Piyali) do justice to their roles with the former playing a person with values and morals but still dragging his feet throughout life and becoming proactive when you least expect him to. He seems confused through most of the movie and even his repentance at the end seems to fall flat.

But all this dissection aside- kudos to Anushka for not going the expected path of KJo-type movies alone. She can emote and emote well.

Pari is all about her. But I give it half a thumbs-up because a horror movie shouldn’t just be about pathos…it should be a bit jarring. Pari fails to do that.

Movie Review: Tridev

After a looooooooooong time I turned the telly on last Sunday in a rush thinking I’d missed out on the Oscars and found Tridev was playing.

Released in 1989 and a blockbuster by the yardstick prevalent back in the day; the movie is a laugh and minute even during the scenes which are supposed to be very high on the emotional quotient.

Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Sunny Deol, Amrish Puri, Anupam Kher and a plethora of other chamaktey sitaarey (shining stars) of the era come together to make a 2 hour plus movie which is replete with the all the symbols of the 80s; and therefore was a total trip down nostalgia alley for me.

These are the tropes in the movies of the 80s and early 90s that I remember vividly-

  • Minimum 3-4 outfit changes for the female lead in the course of a song.
  • Each outfit quite outlandish and fairly garish and gaudy.
  • Villains are OTT evil and had to have a trademark evil laughter. Said trademark had to occur with each evil soliloquy.
  • Women are props. Used to pretty up a scene or as lures to get the male lead to come and duke it out with the bad guy. Women also need to sing during their captivity.
  • The police always arrive after everything ends and essentially are clean-up crews.
  • The back-up dancers are drab-faced people who end up dancing either like they are on meth or are stoned and never vary from either of these two extremes.
  • There is *always* love at first sight.
  • Love is expressed via song. At Least twice. First time: Initial expression. Second time: Reiteration.
  • The fight sequence is totally of comic book proportions without the blurbs spelling out the KAPOWS.
  • Each time anyone gets hit, they fly through the air a la The Matrix and the resulting sound effect is LOUD!
  • There is no anti-hero: there is black or white.
  • There is a weird depiction of a jungle tribe replete with loin cloths, tiger-striped clothing and jungle drums.
  • The jungle tribe utters inane stuff like Jinga Lala Boom etc.
  • Party scenes are usually where everyone is standing still like statues and one person moving about tipsy and singing an alcohol-related song.
  • Patriotism is also OTT.
  • The level and diction of the spoken Hindi is far superior than that spoken these days.
  • The music is catchy and unashamedly borrowed (bits and pieces) from dance hits famous overseas.

Since the advance in special effects hadn’t happened to the extent it has nowadays, things looked made-up and really clichéd but still entertained in a way many movies of today don’t.

While I may have laughed at Sunny Deol’s “angst” at finding his dead father, Amrish Puri’s Bhujang-avatar or even Sangeeta Bijlani’s determination to find her dead brother’s killer by becoming a gangster’s moll; the fact remains is that those movies entertain!

Oye oye!

Image courtesy- madaboutmoviez.wordpress.com

 

Movie Review: Diwale

 

It’s not the worst movie I’ve ever seen and neither will it be. Am sure I’m fated to see much, much worse.

But Dilwale was a bit loose compared to the usual Rohit Shetty fare IMHO.

And while it makes zero since to critique an out and out potboiler from Bollywood, one must undertake meaningless things in life. Why? No clue baap.

Alors!

Ok let’s start with the locales. Bulgaria? Check!! Made me want to see it once. Goa? Not so much. Not because I’ve been there before but Goa wasn’t showcased in the slightest bit. It could have been though.

Cast: SRK- you have to hand it to a guy who is 50 and manages to keep his body chiseled and hot. He hasn’t hulked up into a musclebound moron unlike some others I could mention but won’t but still. The man has *presence*. His crying scenes haven’t improved at all and he still comes across as utterly fake doing them but that jaw-clenched look of his still works. At least for me. He doesn’t smolder but he does does a sexy simmer 🙂

Kajol: I will NOT talk about the demise of the dusky skin and the near unibrow but will talk about the fact that she looked good. She is toned and does what she is supposed to do aka look in the clothes chosen for her and have good chemistry with her co-star. The dialogue delivery is fine. And let’s leave it at that.

Varun Dhawan: I had liked this guy in HSKD and thought that he could deliver consistently. But he really has very little to do in Dilwale. He doesn’t have a decent song filmed on him, neither does he have any really funny dialogues. And speaking of dialogues, VD was uttering his like he’s developmentally slow. Really.

Kriti Sanon: Why baap? They’d have been better off keeping a mannequin in her stead. Zero screen presence. Stiffness while moving around and emoting is probably she considers putting smiles in her chat texts.

Boman Irani: Wasted. Totally.

Johnny Lever: Belongs only on the so-called comedy shows on t.v. His act is hackneyed an doesn’t elicit as many laughs as a comedic role should.

Sanjay Mishra aka Oscar Bhai had some colorful and zany dialogues. I wonder what the writers smoked while writing his lines out. It really could come from those truly stoned. Not that I could vouch for something like that myself *wink wink*.

Kabir Bedi: looks plastic and barring his bassy voice brings zilch to the screen.

Vinod Khanna: is on for too little a time to make any impact.

SRK’s two goons: Did a remotely passable job of providing comic relief.

The music: Why Gerua? It is catchy but why gerua? But then again why hara or peela either so gerua gets the pass. So do Janam Janam and Daayre. But Manma Emotion Jaagey and Tukur Tukur should have been axed on the editing table without a thought. Brainless bits.

So, did I like it at all? Yes I did. Liked it. Slightly. Liked the lead pair’s chemistry. Really liked the cars they used. Didn’t mind the locales and I wasn’t tempted to walk out midway. That and the cheesy popcorn and the funny company made it a painless one-time watch. Twice would be painful.

 

 

Movie Review: Welcome Back…Erm Don’t

Yup, that’s right. Welcome Back should have at rider attached to it- DON’T!
Where the first movie wasn’t a shoo-in for the comedy of the year award, it was still entertaining and doesn’t fail to elicit chuckles on reruns on tv. But the sequel has a couple of things which make it one of the main contenders for MOST LUDICROUS MOVIE OF THE YEAR. And here they are in no particular order:
1) Shruti Haasan– can’t speak Hindi. Sounds like she’s majorly distressed when she does. Very limited range of emotions. She was more believable in her AC ads. A pretty prop. Period.

2) John Abraham– should stick to promoting Mens’ grooming products. From Jism to Saaya to this movie, he has progressively gotten more wooden, unintentionally deadpan and extremely unfunny. That the man has also got more ripped and has a fantastic “V” should have zero bearing on his acting abilities. His screen presence is mainly felt once he takes his clothes off. The stunt where he ran on the backs of the camels was kinda sad. One felt for the camels. Really.

3) Dimple Kapadia– Finding Fanny, Dil Chahata Hai were roles she could do something with and she did. This movie showcased amply and repeatedly that she cannot emote the light hearted stuff and her comic timing is non-existent.

4) Naseeruddin Shah– Now this was the major head scratcher. I know Bollywood pays more than art house movies and theater but one would think that after decades in the business NS would be able to pick and choose his roles rather than be in a dead end movie which tickles you into laughing rather than evoking it.

5) Ankita Shrivastava- Oh Lord. Slut central. Nothing great to look at. Exposed everything that she had to and still couldn’t get anywhere. Has a great career playing a bar dancer or one of those skimpily-clad dancers who jiggle their booties at the drop of a pin. Emoting? What emoting? Incidentally this young lady’s Wikipedia page lists her as the “most promising Indian actress” yada yada yada. Boy are we in trouble if that load of tripe is even marginally true.

6) The OST. Lord. Boring. Boring. Boring. Barring the Tutti Bole Wedding Di track, none are foot-tappers let alone a good time for the ears. If anything, one wished to fast forward through the songs and the dance routines.

Shiney Ahuja and the people like Rajpal Yadav are wasted. The former because he has no career and pretty much might have to do anything that comes his way (despite being good looking and being able to actually act) even act like a “charsi launda”. And Rajpal Yadav because he is capable of so much more than being “bajaoed like a ghanta” while playing the fool.
This is the kind of movie that forcibly makes you laugh with its predictable punchlines and the antics of Parel Rawal, Nana Patekar and Anil Kapoor. The latter not so much as before.
I wanted a movie that was a no brainer and I got it. Just goes to show, be careful what you wish for. One just wishes that none of the case survived the last scene (in the movie world and not the real one) and nip all thoughts of another sequel in the bud!

The scene at the graveyard was just mind-boggling. I mean it just made one wonder why Aneez Bazmee would direct a movie that had an Antakshari match between a so-called ghost and two mobsters. And one had to wonder at Shruti Haasan and her endless parade of hiiigh heels.

There are moments though, Anil Kapoor grumbling about having to dig a hole in a graveyard in Dubai whereas in India there would have been open ditches galore for dumping a body!

I will say this though, get stoned and maybe, just maybe this movie might be a laugh riot. If not, welcome to stale dialogues, lavish sets and loads of money spent on Humvees, Lamborghinis and massive chandeliers and the mother of all dust storms of all things. I mean, welcome back!

Just Because

This is a post just because. Just because someone did something that benefited them in no particular way but added happiness to my day.

Just because someone took a little bit of trouble so I could do something non-critical and non-urgent and insignificant to everyone else but relevant and significant for me.

Just because.

And these are the things that you remember. And this is how red-letter days get made.