A Run-of-the-mill Trip
What happens when you have a drug dealer, a stripper, a slacker and a vagabond group together for a road trip intended to smuggle weed across the border? If your name is Rawson Marshall Thurber, you take this unlikely group and try to make a slacker-stoner-roadtrip comedy that contains gags that are all too common and scenarios that have been recycled over and over, but still, you make it work. Starring Jennifer Aniston and Jason Sudeikis, ‘We’re the Millers’ is a gross-out bone-tickler about four nobodys who smuggle massive amounts of weed into the States while playing make-believe with everyone else that they are a regular All-American family.
Small time drug peddler David Clark(Sudeikis) is in hot waters when he gets robbed of his stash of drugs and money that he owes to his boss, a powerful drug lord. The boss (Helms) forces David to take up a smuggling job in Mexico in order to call it even for the unrecovered money. So he devises a ruse to con the border-patrol by hiring stripper-neighbour Rose(Aniston), runaway hobo Casey(Roberts) and his clueless awkward teenage neighbour Kenny and convinces them to pose as ‘the Miller family’ while they take a trip to Mexico and back in a recreational vehicle. What follows is a laughathon where this dysfunctional family goes through a series of sticky situations where their lids are in danger of getting blown off. Their efforts to keep their identities hidden but still come off as different beings from each other is what this film is all about.
Coming from the writers of ‘Wedding Crashers’ and ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’, this is another R rated movie, filled to the brim with crude humour. But all of it is done so competently that even jokes about an 18 year-old kid performing fellatio on a corrupt cop is deemed laughable. Although the movie has its drawbacks, with the unbelievable characters or the unconvincing plot, it succeeds in keeping the viewer giggling. The humour in this film is intended to offend the conservatives and make fun of all things considered a cliche. This is where it fails because after a certain period in the story, the plot becomes exactly that. What starts as a promising project ends up in a familiar, predictable and an uninventive product.
Jason Sudeikis is hands-down the best character in the film. He is portrayed as a greedy selfish peddler but plays the part of a seemingly loving father very well too. His pairing with Aniston clicks and together they are a joy to watch. It is great to see Aniston playing a role far removed from the ‘Rachel’ tag that she always has been bestowed with. Bringing the rear are Will Poulter and Emma Roberts. Poulter plays the next-door innocent kid who’s coming of age and Roberts plays a character akin to her role in ‘Wild Child’. Ed Helms plays the boss but his character is largely wasted, thanks to a weak script. Nick Offerman and Kathryn Hahn play minor roles as an accompanying touring family.
We’re the Millers is a one-time watch if you do not have an aversion to dirty comedy. No moment in the movie is dull and you will split your sides laughing as wave after wave of funny dialogue sweep over you, but in hindsight, it is all about Rachel swinging from a pole a ‘La-Barb-Wire’ really.
My Rating: 6/10
The flow of the movie. Never a dull moment.
Jennifer Aniston’s coming out of the Rachel mold.
Nick Offerman’s ‘Ron Swanson’ moustache and meander.
Unconvincing characters and unbelievable plot.
More sloppy than silly gags, like the ‘weed baby’.
Yippee-kai-yuck, Oh Father!
Die Hard(1988) was one of the first films that I actually bought off the shelf with my pocket money when I was a wee lad. An original crystal case containing two CD-ROMs and a Summer Movie Guide featuring the best movies of the year. It all started with officer John McLane(Bruce Willis), with his gung-ho attitude and procured machine guns, fighting his way through Nakatomi building killing bad guys along the way to the ultimate showdown with the poshest German in history, Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). Since then, four more movies have been made, each one a grislier abomination of the original that had endeared millions of us to root for the underdog cop fighting evil almost single-handedly against all odds.
A Good Day To Die Hard takes place in Russia, where ‘Detective’ McLane travels to Moscow to unite with his son, Jack, who is in trouble with the law there. Little does he know that his son’s arrest has a connection with whistle-blower Yuri Komarov(Sebastian Koch) who is about to undergo a trial. Now Yuri has damaging evidence against Chagarin, a powerful government official and is attacked by his henchmen in the courtroom, only to be saved by the disgruntled father-son duo who constantly engage in acerbic dialogue. As it turns out, the acorn does not fall far from the tree as Jack McLane(Jai Courtney) is revealed to be a CIA undercover operative searching for the evidence against Chagarin. And Yuri has the key to it. The onus of protecting him and the good ol’ American way lies on the McLanes through a plethora of car-chases, gunfights, helicopter crashes and general badassery.
The film starts with a bang, and I mean, a BANG! Insane car-chase scenes with trucks toppling and concrete being smashed like a bowl of eggs, it seems as if the filmmakers picked up the action right where they left off in the fourth movie. The first 20 minutes are enough to awe the viewer with awesome explosions and incredible CGI. Unfortunately, neither the story nor the characters have enough intensity to be deemed plausible or indeed, to be taken seriously at all.
Bruce Willis’s character is less of the John McLane we know and more like Mr. Church from The Expendables. The man is simply invulnerable! What happened to the guy who bled in agony due to a small shard of glass? McLane is much older, yet somehow much tougher, apathetic and unbeatable throughout the film. The adventure through Russia seems a bit too easy for him to be true. He hardly looks like the underdog we would like to root and pray for. Of course, he is now accompanied by his equally tough son which makes matters all the more easier. Jai Courtney is McLane Jr and a troubled problem-child. He is adequate in his role but that is the best he could offer in a script that is so childish and unimaginative. The cast is supported by Sebastian Koch as Yuri and Yuliya Snigir as his daughter.
Director John Moore has outdone himself after Max Payne and created a movie that relies more on in-your-face action instead of something as essential as screenplay or common sense. The film lacked character, style, or more appropriately, the cowboy pizzazz that each and every earlier part in the series boasted of. It rides only on the aura of John McLane created decades ago and if we are lucky, he just might submit his badge, gun and start a real, trouble-free vacation after all.
My Rating: 3/10
Great car chase sequences. Good CGI.
The stained white shirt is back.
Only 97 minutes long.
Overuse of the words “I’m on vacation” and “Jesus”.
John McLane is a supporting character.
Pretty much everything else.
Kanni, Katti, Kisht aur Cricket
It rarely happens that a movie grabs your attention with its opening scenes, solely on the basis of its naivety. The scene set 10 years down show a number of young prodigies excelling in their individual disciplines. And all of them look like actual talents. Talk about practicing what you preach – “A talent comes by sparsely and needs to be nurtured and promoted”. Ishan adds the “…at any cost”.
Set in Gujarat of 2000, 3 friends set out to shape their destinies as history plays spoilsport. Leader and dreamer Ishan (Sushant Singh Rajput), who in his own words was once the” world best cricketer in Belrampur” but has been a disappointment since owing to his impulsive and undiplomatic attitude. Omi is the local priest’s son, and Ishan’s biggest fan. He is the kind of guy who cannot think for himself, but ultimately ends up doing more than the guide. And the 3rd is Govind, the lead in the book mandatorily named after Lord Krishna, who is shrewd and selfish in his plans, but his selfless enough to carry his friends in his ambitions without whom his own ventures can never be kickstarted. The fillum is about how they encounter Ali who can hit any ball (tennis or leather, real or CGI) outside the ground and train him. Other prominent characters are Ali’s dad, Ishan’s sister Vidya (Amrita Puri) who has a daring affair with her brother’s best friend, and Omi’s Bittu Mama.
There is one scene in the film, when India vs Australia Kolkata 2001 is revisited. After India has won a sure shot lost match, Ishan and Omi who haven’t talked for some time after a fight, run towards each other from their houses, look at each other disgustingly and hug it out. This was after Ishan tries to celebrate it with Govind and Omi tries to do it alone. We know the group is of 3 and all but here we find just how much they are in love with each other. You almost wish Abhishek Kapoor and his team of writers had not tweaked the ending. Are they fucking sadists??? Do they get pleasure when we people cry???? Why??
And that solitary tear would not have been possible without the 3 leads. Their chemistry is better than my college professor’s chemistry. But then that’s not saying much. Amit Sadh, who we see after a long time, gives a truly internalised performance, not having many dialogues and still charming with his ever ready enthusiasm for fun with friends, but scaring the bejesus with one look in the latter portions. Raj Kumar Yadav is dependable as ever, and makes sure there are little stammers, little twitches to make his character subtly awkward. Plus his breakdown in the pre-interval scene is simply brilliant. And now ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you Sushant Singh Rajput, a future superstar. It is his performance that binds the whole film together. We believe he is hurt by Ali’s retalitation. We believe he wants to make Ali a superstar. And we believe when he believes. Amrita Puri is good as the always on the phone Vidya, who doesn’t hesitate from touching her Bhailu’s friend to indicate her interest, but she comes off irritating in some scenes. A special mention of Manav Kaul as Bittoo Mama (who I personally visualised as a older, bulkier man with a thicker moustache while reading the book, but this works as well) who is the financial agent in the 1st half and agent of chaos in 2nd half.
This is such a finely crafted film that you rarely notice how playful the cinematography by Anay Goswami is, with its earthern colors (which is day by day becoming the ‘go to’ shade to show depth), or how melodious or heart thumping the BGM is. A special mention to the sound editor, whoever that guy is, for not using too much of music in the exciting scenes. It would have overcrowded those scenes already brimming with awesomeness and diluted the impact. And what to say about Amit Trivedi and Swanand Kirkire. Both are in a league of their own in their respective fields. Only 3 songs, all in the 1st half, each one better than the previous. But yeah, Manja is my personal favourite. And it’s generously, yet judiciously used in the film, more than once.
Which brings me to the question – Does Abhishek Kapoor have the best ear in music in Bollywood? We all know about his previous endeavour Rock On, which worked solely on the basis of not only its chartbusting songs, but also the way they were used. A similar taste is visible here as well. Hell even Aryan had good songs.
Now 3 Mistakes of My Life is my favourite Chetan Bhagat book. But that’s like saying Housefull 2 is my favorite Sajid Khan movie. So basically, Abhishek Kapoor had a very loud book in his hands, full of episodes and lacking any thread. He turns it into a subtle, coming of age tale, dabbled in poignant humour. And then they say Superman isn’t real. What has this world come to Maaaaaaaan!!
But that doesn’t mean the film is without faults. It takes too long to set up a real conflict and our attention has begun to be impatient by then. The conversations between the 3 in the 1st half seem a little hollow and incomplete. This is one problem I had with Rock On as well. Another problem is some dialogues were indecipherable. Also, all the characters would be talking in Hindi and then get this sudden urge to utter a phrase or two in Gujarati, and heavy one at that, and I will lose all the flow where the conversation was headed.
But all this is nitpicking really. This is that rare Hindi movie which strives for perfection and almost manages. You get that lost feeling when the credits roll. You feel as if your best friend has just been placed in another city and now you are left alone. You do feel Kaipoche’d.
My Rating :- 9/10
No individual Fats and Slims for this movie. It is too bloody well amalgamated.
Tale of Two Witties
The film begins with a flash forward. Akshay Kumar and Anupam Kher interview a female candidate and they talk casually about uprooting corruption from the country. The scene is acted out very sincerely by the 3 actors. But there is still that underlying sense of humour in that scene. Something about ‘saath me ukhaadege na Sir’. The tone is set and you are glued.
This is what separates the new offering by Neeraj ‘A Wednesday’ Pandey that checks into the theatres this Friday. The cop scenes (both real and fake), in their essence are worthy enough to find themselves in the best of cop movies made in India. But all of it is done with the biggest of tongues in the biggest of cheeks making it a heist movie as entertaining as Ocean’s 11 and still succeeding in making a serious comment on the general public’s fear of anything ‘official’.
It tells the story of a gang of 4 colourful men(Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Rajesh Sharma, Kishor Kadam), all from different demographics of India. Once in a while, they assemble to conduct faux raids posing as CBI officers on the biggest of politicians and businessmen simply using their audacity and attitude. Just think about the 1st meeting at Surya International between Sethi Sahab and Vijendarr in Khosla ka Ghosla and extrapolate it for 2.5 hours. They enter, they excavate, they exit.
All is hunky dory and the gang is all set to conduct a raid one last time, a big one at that to go out with a bang. However, unbeknownst to them, the real CBI, headed by the upright cop Waseem Khan(Manoj Bajpai), is on their tail.
Now I am one of those people who are not the biggest of fans of A Wednesday. If you remove the end 20 minutes, the movie is average at best, only elevated by the performances. It was technically unpolished, had unnecessary subplots including Electric Baba and too many clichés and too much of Deepal Shaw. The writer-director has identified those faults and corrected most of them in this one. The screenplay is strikingly original with well etched characters and has the wackiest sense of humour I have seen in a long time. When the gang is pulling Anupam Kher’s leg for the long line of children he has conceived, he innocently replies “Hamaare samay me TV nahi hua karta tha”.
Which brings me to Anupam Kher. Three things I take from movies last year was Barfi’s beauty, Argo’s thrill and the scene in Silver Linings Playbook when Anupam Kher says [NSFW!!!!] “Cocksuckerrr”. Here he plays a highly virile man who is confident when in disguise but a nervous wreck otherwise. He is also the adopted father to the group strategist Ajju (Akshay Kumar), who travels by plane and has the best of apparel to conveniently look the very definition of a filmy hero. And it is the chemistry between the two and the way they play to each other that is the biggest strength of the film, with Kher’s nuanced jumpiness playing a perfect foil to Kumar’s natural charm and his new found downplay. The other two have hardly 4 lines and just made to stand in. One of them is in fact the highly talented Rajesh Sharma and he is wasted in a role that in a more fair parallel universe would be fulfilled by someone like Abhishek Bachchan. Manoj Bajpai shines as usual except in the very climax where he has the last laugh and still doesn’t. Jimmy Sheirgill (with an extra ‘i’) plays the wronged cop determined to track down the gang, and who initially brings the entire charade to notice.
Most of the performances are perfect and the setting is brilliant with the Vespas and the Marutis running on the deserted looking roads. And the background score, which runs almost continuously throughout the film, is impressive enough to not irritate despite its incessantness.
If the movie falters somewhere seriously, it’s the obligatory love angle between Akshay Kumar and Kajal Agarwal. She is even worse than Deepal Shaw to be honest and can’t look good to save her life. Plus, the use of Croma for background was too obvious and it was too distracting in some scenes. Plus, the ending is a little too imaginative. Unlike the Dhoom series or most other movies of this genre, our loyalty lies with people on both sides of the law this time. I wanted the gang to escape, but also wanted Manoj Bajpai to emerge victorious. I felt this could have been used to draw a better ending.
Despite its flaws, the movie is the finest cop movie to have come out of India since Ab Tak Chappan, if I can call it one. Do watch it. You may not love it as much as I did, but you will come out entertained.
My Rating :- 8/10
The gang’s first raid and the places win which money is found at the politician’s house. Reminded me of the headlines of those times. “Mashoor abhineta ke ghar ke bathroom ki tiles ke neeche se 5 lakh rupay baraamad”.
The chase scene in Connaught Place.
The way the group contacts each other after the robberies, when they are relaxing in their hometowns.
The auditions montage.
The songs, especially the one with Neeru Bajwa.
Akshay Kumar’s wardrobe.
Why didn’t Waseem Khan keep some members of his team guarding the chest?
How did the minister in the 1st raid not know a single real cop??? He would have at least known the Commissioner of his area, no?
The film is 15 minutes too long, mostly due to all the walking towards the camera scenes. Even Badmaash Company had less of them.
Dil Hai Chota Sa, Choti Si Bhaashaa
English Vinglish, in which we see Sridevi after a gap of 15 years as an undervalued mother and homemaker, wins you over in the very 1st five minutes as we see Shashi (Sridevi), trying to sit down with her morning cup of coffee but unable to enjoy it as one by one her family members wake up and ask for breakfast. This is a scene that plays in most of our homes every morning. Breakfast table lights up at her expense when she mispronounces a word and even her flourishing small scale Laddu business is not enough to gain some respect from her self-centred, albeit loving husband or her teenage daughter who is visibly embarrassed of her. Shashi however takes it all in her stride for the sake of her family, never really trying to learn English or getting out of her comfort zone in any way. Things however change when she has to relocate to Manhattan for a month in order to attend her niece’s wedding, with her family set to join her after 3 weeks. Barely managing, she is handed a rude reality check when insulted at her inability in ordering a meagre lunch for herself at a cafe and instinctively decides to enrol for an English Speaking class where she meets a pot pourri of various nationals all eager to learn English. And how she not only learns another language but in the process learns to respect herself forms the rest of this coming-of-age tale if I may call it one.
The movie is written and directed by debutante Gauri Shinde, wife of prolific ad filmmaker and movie maker Balki. It’s pretty apparent the movie is made by a woman. And that is its biggest strength. She doesn’t show a single character in the movie to be negative and even though her hero is Shashi, even then she doesn’t refrain from showing that even she can be a nag sometimes. The biggest twist in the climax comes when a plate of Laddus is accidentally soiled and even when a European dude falls for her, there are no moral boundaries to be maintained as Shashi herself says that she doesn’t need an intermediate love but simply respect from her family. Things really are that simple in this movie.
And the simplicity is maintained in all the technical departments as well. No snazzy camerawork. No crazy editing. Even Manhattan looks simple in this one. At the risk of coming across a little gay, I will still like to mention the incredible sarees worn by Sridevi throughout the movie. And some of them I can swear are from my mother’s wardrobe.
I haven’t really watched a lot of Sridevi movies in my life. But I have seen the usual suspects like Mr. India, Chaalbaaz, Roop ki Rani Choro ka Raja and Judaai. And each one had a very loud Sridevi character in it. So I was really surprised in those scenes where Shashi is insulted by her daughter or husband and bears it all silently. After all, it is all supposed to be “in good humour”. Plus she is her usual best in the funny scenes. So there was already Vidya Balan (Kahaani) and Priyanka Chopra (Barfi) who were favourites for the year end award, and now you have Sridevi who is leaps ahead of either of them. Adil Hussain plays her husband who loves her in the middle class, arranged marriage kinda love, but is regularly disrespectful to the point of belittling her side business. He hits all the right notes without really taking away any limelight from Sridevi’s central performance. Other actors are mostly unknown except for Amitabh Bachchan who has a cameo as a co-traveller. Each of them is impeccable.
This movie is not so much about a language as about stepping out of your comfort zone. Sridevi’s fear of English could be my mother’s fear of escalators or naani’s fear of technology. Yet they all do share a certain wariness of English. But why? Have we really become so impressed by all things American that we have forgotten our own cultural greatness? Why is it that the French or the Germans are so proud of their mother tongue, yet we consider a failure at speaking proper English a failure in life? After her triumphant attempt at learning English when Sridevi is on the return flight to India, the airhostess asks them if they need newspapers. Her husband asks for a New York Times. Sridevi, asks for NYT too (in proper English), then changes her mind and asks for a Hindi newspaper instead. It is just another language after all. English Vinglish hi to hai!
My Rating – 7/10
The Fats : -
The entire conversation between Shashi and Her daughter’s English teacher was very well designed. The use of language and gradual transition from Hindi to English by the teacher was very well done.
Amitabh Bachchan’s cameo was a hoot, especially when he strong arms the custom officer at the end of his part. Hilarious!
The way Shashi’s to-be-wed niece was pulling her fiancé’s leg all the time about various customs a groom has to follow in an Indian wedding was so cheeky and warm.
Sridevi’s speech at the wedding showed us what we speak is more important than how it is said. And her speech was full of wise words gained from experience.
The Slims : -
Sweets and Sweethearts
In this age of South-Indian remakes and romantic movies a million miles away from anything related to the heart, you can’t help but fall in love with a movie like Barfi! which teaches us the importance of that unexplainable, irrational and downright-stupid feeling that fills our heart with warmth one in a lifetime for someone else without expecting anything in return.
Murphy (Ranbir Kapoor), or Barfi!, as he calls himself, is a street smart, deaf and mute boy living in Darjeeling with his chauffeur father. He does odd jobs to help his father and passes the remaining time trying to be a nuisance to everyone, but eventually succeeding in leaving a smile on their faces. He falls for already engaged new bee Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz), and presents his heart on a platter for her. Shruti too loves him back, but ultimately rejects him for her more socially suitable fiancé. Distressed and dejected, he has hardened up from that playful lad to a serious man. Soon, however he walks into Jhilmil’s life, the autistic girl he was childhood friends with. And thus begins one of the greatest love stories ever told.
Let me do away with the technical credits first. The first thing that is constantly on our minds while watching it is how gorgeous the film looks! Ravi Varman’s playful use of reflections and glares is perfect for an innocent movie like Barfi! And brilliantly aiding him is Pritam with his magical box of soulful, melodious tunes which instantly take you to your childhood trips with Mummy Papa to those magical kingdoms in the clouds known as hill-stations. Editing is crisp in certain segments, especially in the songs, but the film does end up being a tad too long.
The movie is made by Anurag Basu, whose recent movies include the brilliantly volatile Life in a Metro and the passable Kites. And by made, I mean, not only written and directed by, but created by. He creates a complete new idiom for story-telling, in which the world is constantly scenic with a soothing melody lighting up the background. That is exactly how being in Barfi’s deaf mind must feel like. And he brings such poignancy to this world of love and betrayal, that by the end, you can’t really imagine a single frame of the movie less perfect than it already is.
Almost at par with Anurag Basu is Ranbir Kapoor, who can rightly be called the best actor India has right now, not just because of his acting arsenal, but that guy can literally do everything demanded from an actor. He creates a completely fresh, wholesome character in Barfi! and fills him with nice little touches like his high-pitched squeals, his almost forced smile even when distressed and his fake reluctance with a sheepish grin while accepting applause after he has just gate crashed a high society dance party and coloured it in his paints. Just watch out for a scene in which he vents out his anger and discomfort on Shruti after she rejects him. Rock On DUDE!
And complimenting him perfectly is Priyanka Chopra as the autistic Jhilmil. I hated Priyanka Chopra before this. Once upon a time, she was my fav actress and I really respected her for trying her best in everything. But after Kaminey, she had that arrogant air about herself in everything she did, something similar to what SRK carries. Now she has won me back with this armors down, almost naked performance without any inhibitions about how she looks or carries herself. And she comes off cute too. Playing Veronica to Jhilmil’s Betty is Shruti played gracefully by Ileana D’Cruz, and she brings along that dignity which almost feels uncomfortable in this triangle when pitted against Jhilmil’s awkwardness. The standout amongst the supporting cast are Saurabh Shukla as the Closeau-esque cop forever on Barfi’s chase and Akash Khurana as Barfi’s lovable dad. All others are competent too, and that the film spans almost half a century without ever feeling clunky speaks for the cast’s competence.
Barfi! is the kind of movie that will charm you with its beauty, make you cry by the bucketfuls and make you laugh harder than you must have in years. But most importantly, it will allow you to leave the theatre with that smile on your face which you only had while watching Tom and Jerry as a child.
My Rating – 9/10
Picture Shuru……Ho Gayi Picture Shuru…..! J
How Barfi’s broken handwriting actually looks decorative when inscribed on a utensil.
The respect with which the director treated his audiences, so evident from the scene in which Barfi mistakenly assumes’ Foolish’ as ‘Police’.
The End Credits have to be THE cutest 5 minutes about love at par with UP’s Carl and Ellie’s love story.
The fact that shots shown from Jhilmil’s upside down point of view are always more beautiful than any other thing in the movie.
The Friendship Test.
The picturization of the songs, so warm and fuzzy.
The scene in which Barfi covers Jhilmil’s legs when a co-passenger is staring at them, and offers to show his own legs instead.
The entire last 10 minutes of to and fro between the 3 parallel time frames.
I seriously can go on…
Homages are okay, but the 2 scenes lifted from The Notebook really disappointed me.
How could they even think of casting Katrina Kaif as Shruti before she left the project citing date problems??? Thank God!
Too Many Guns On The Wall
First of all, this is NOT a review. These are just thoughts collected over a period of watching and re-watching Anurag Kashyap’s Wasseypur movies and pouring them out for the readers. Some might agree, some might agree to disagree. The article is mind bogglingly late but we are lazy pillocks not to watch and review them right after they released. Better late than never! Some thoughts from the movies:
There is a scene in the 2nd chapter of the Gangs of Wasseypur movies in which Sultan Qureshi and his minions attack Faisal Khan’s house in the middle of the night. The family is gathered around the television watching Kyunki Saans Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi on television, when the crass opening music of the soap is replaced by the sweet melody of bullets fired mindlessly. Faisal commands his family to stay put in an inner room and tries to escape amidst bullets, up the stairs, across a crevice to the next house, down the stairs and outside to the alley. The camera follows him in this 10 minute single take scene expertly conveying the adrenaline rush in such times. But as you think about it, you realise that there was simply no reason at all for Faisal to leave his family in such a calamitous situation. What exactly did he achieve by coming out of the house next door? Also, Anurag Kashyap should know that his true fans will catch every folly of his. Then why did he have to unnecessarily create that 10 minute single take scene when it was clearly visible there were convenient, evenly spaced dark spaces to allow for camera breaks and still maintain a sense of continuity, a gimmick implemented by Hitchcock in “Rope” which the filmmaker himself confessed was a mistake to start with?
That is what the problem is with the entire film in fact. The film, while brilliant in its execution, has an unnecessary ambition to be epic and this very ambition leads to its downfall.
Now I know hardly anything about Dhanbad. And Wasseypur, before watching the film, I thought was a fictional place like Gotham or Hogwarts. Hence I can’t really comment if it is ‘realistic’ or not. But when I usually go for a movie that declares itself to be realistic, I just want it to be subtle and characters to guide their actions truthfully. If I feel a character should have used a swear word, it shouldn’t be the censor certificate or the ambition of 8 Cr more that should be stopping him/her. Otherwise I don’t really care about the abuses or the violence. They for me just do what action set pieces do in a good action film: they should tell me about the character’s frame of mind at that moment and keep me interested and entertained. And GoW 1 succeeded in that aspect for me. Every time Manoj Bajpai’s brilliant Sardar Khan did anything redemptive, it always belonged to the Keh Ke Loonga genre. Hence I could enjoy the sight of him and Asghar chopping away. But in the 2nd film, the action from a Tarantino film was replaced by that of Ek Tha Tiger. Alright I apologize; I did exaggerate but you get the gist. I could never fathom how Sultan Qureshi and Shamshad Khan were so thick that an assassination attempt on the latter could make Sultan break the first rule of Mafia and kill his sister and a Khan Widow! That, I believe is the moment I was convinced the yardstick I carried to measure this film will be left unused at the long end. For me it lost the realistic tag it carried there itself. Also I did not believe Faisal for a moment when he broke down in front of his wife in the dark of the night. It looked like a scene which was just meant to outline the character’s guilt and innocence, and Faisal was such a kickass character without it.
There is a very important theory about theatre by Russian playwright Anton Chekhov which can be expanded to films. Known as the Chekhov Gun, it states “One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” It illustrates the importance of foreshadowing in any story. But it also states that you should not introduce any element into the story if it is not important to the tale. And I found many a things to be of such a stature in this life-inspired epic. There are many a characters which are quite wasteful really in the scheme of things, specifically side characters like Shamshad and Iqlaq, the accountant. And I really wouldn’t have minded them so much, but Kashyap in a rare attempt at pizzazz, introduced them too with a montage like Guy Ritchie usually introduces his characters with, and this turned them into probable game-changers. Also I could not really understand why Iqlaq really needed to have a motivation or a backstory explaining his actions in the pre-climax. I personally feel money would have been a big enough motivation. This just jumbled up things unnecessarily and diverted my overused attention from this anyways complicated tale.
One thing I loved about the movie was how Bollywood was an important motivation for most of its heroes. I was literally out of breath while watching the scene in which Faisal tries to impress Mohsina with a combination of Amitabh Bachchan and Rajnikanth inspired shenanigans, I was laughing that hard. Movies and other art forms do play a role in moulding our decisions. Anybody saying otherwise is a fool. In that aspect, this is sort of the anti-Goodfellas. And it is inspired in so many ways by Godfather. But it sort of tries to live up to all the homages. Take that chase scene between Shamshad and Definite for example. It starts off brilliantly when Definite’s ‘katta’ refuses to fire. And it’s all good until Anurag Kashyap decided that his Black Friday chase scene is so awesome that this film couldn’t do without playing by that standard. So in a really weird and stupid scene, both of them are standing at the same petrol pump, waiting for their turn to have their fills in to their chariots of fire.
To conclude it in a nutshell, the Wasseypur movies are masterpieces in their own right. A step ahead for Bollywood, but they do come with their fair share of flaws. And what is a critic without some smug criticism? How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct?
Bonny and Bourne Born for Love
So it’s that time of the year again. What people the world around call Eid, we Indians call it annual Salman Khan blockbuster day. 3 years back it was Wanted, which officially shut up Salman’s detractors and turned them into his die-hard fans, Dabanng the next year which showed what can be achieved with a moustache and a really sacrificial shirt that rips itself for her master’s gain and Bodyguard last year which was a pain in the ass really for audiences and ushers alike. This year it’s Ek Tha Tiger, a first time fling between Salman and Yash Raj and a return to screen of a pair who share the same feelings for each other that I share with my running shoes, we hate each other but still try to be nice to the other one for the sake of each other’s maintenance.
Ek Tha Tiger is the story of Tiger obviously who falls for an unreachable in the course of an observation mission in Dublin. But being a spy, it is not possible for him to have an honest relationship with anyone really. He is a naive one though. Soon they are in love and he goes rogue. The agency, scared for its secrets, starts a game of cat and mouse which makes up for the rest of the fillum.
Now a Salman Khan film is just a Salman Khan film and nobody else’s. Hence to expect a story or a good direction or good dialogues here is really like expecting Sachin to retire soon or Rohit Sharma to make some sort of physical contact with ball. ETT however does try to have a story, however skimpy and even a sense of direction. Dialogues are otherwise pretty mundane, but some of them do make you laugh solely because of puny way in which Salman Khan or even Girish Karnad mouth them, being ‘mard’ and all. The screenplay however is as illogical as the existence of Suresh Kalmadi. All the toughened up spies pursuing the flighted love birds act like Johnny Bravo on steroids and one of them is particularly irritating and calling Katrina Kaif’s Zoya ‘baby’ on every occasion when he really should have shot her at the first chance instead.
Katrina Kaif, who has a much meatier role than expected for a heroine in any Khan movie really looks beautiful. Now after so many years I am so used to her that I really am not able to judge her acting skills unless she is irritating and asking for an admonition. She is not irritating here. And Salman Khan is Tiger. It is one of his better ‘roles’ in recent years and he is required to make us forget about ‘the’ Salman Khan for some time. And he succeeds too. Somewhat. Plus he looks great and ensures that the whistles and applause keep the mood lively in the auditorium.
The music is bad. If asked to, I will not be able to hum even one song from the soundtrack. The background music also fails in conveying the tension of the action scenes. The cinematography really is the best thing about the entire movie apart from the stunts, but then they failed to work for me at a visceral level as the doubles chosen were simply too obviously ‘doubles’.
The film is not Best Film material. But it is enjoyable. And some scenes kick ass.
My rating - 5/10
The Fats :
The entire opening scene was very well done. Especially the cigarettes one.
The use of slo-mo: neither too much like Rohit Shetty films where even Abhishek Bachchan slows down time nor too less.
Katrina’s make up under false identity.
It was just the right amount of over-the-top action.
The scene in the climax when Tiger rescues Zoya and she is still handcuffed and hence sitting in the backseat made it look like they are eloping on a horse.
The scene in which they barge into an old couple’s house was hilarious.
Either implement logic, or don’t use it at all. Why take this middle road?
Why did Zoya not inform Tiger about their destination? Wasn’t it dumb on her part to not take Tiger into confidence?
Bad execution of Blue screen and morphing.
PS: The above written 700 or so words don’t matter. It is a Sallu film. You will be watching it anyways. It’s only human.
Deh-shay! Deh-shay! Bah Sah Rah! Bah Sah Rah!
"If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal… you become something else entirely. A legend, Mr. Wayne, a legend!" - Ra’s al Ghul.
And a legend he does become. First of all, this review will be full of spoilers. I’ve waited for 3 days so that everyone would get a fair chance to see the movie before the cat is let out of the bag. So if there is anyone who has been too busy to watch the amazing spectacle that His Nolan-ness has created, read no further, or be ready to let the cat swing its paws and sucker punch you right across the face!
To fully realize the potential of The Dark Knight Rises and understand all the hype, one must consider it mandatory to watch the first two Batman movies. Every part of the setting, story-line and character development is based on the previous installments. Having established that, I’d like to add that this movie is a proper superhero movie, unlike the previous installments. Christopher Nolan’s Batman is set in a realistic environment with actions that are believable and technology that is possible, the villains being probable and the consequences, very much possible. This movie fades the line between realistic and possible in such a beautiful way that it leaves the audience awestruck and bemused over how Nolan managed to recreate some of the best moments from the comics and still not insult their intelligence.
The film begins eight years after the happenings of The Dark Knight when Batman takes blame for the death of Gotham’s hope-turned-rogue-turned-martyr Harvey Dent, goes into a self-imposed superhero exile. All this time, Bruce Wayne(Christian Bale) is the epitome of loneliness, a La Howard Hughes. Facing a personal crisis as he blames himself for Rachel Dawes’ (Maggie Gyllenhall/Katie Holmes) death, becomes a mere shadow of the crime-fighting superhero he once was. Meanwhile, a megalomaniac terrorist called Bane(Tom Hardy) is on the loose, jumping planes, abducting scientists and the usual super-villain badass-ery. Bane wrecks havoc in the city as he forces an economic shutdown of Gotham. Meanwhile, jewel-thief Selina Kyle aka Catwoman(Anne Hathaway) breaks into Wayne Manor and does a messy stealing job as she leaves traces for Batman to track her down. It is then revealed that she cunningly *SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS* but then regrets it immediately. His financial turmoil and the impending disaster on Gotham that is Bane convinces Bruce Wayne to don the mask, cape and suit and veer out to set things right. What follows is an epic tale of finding a ray of hope in a sea of despair. And it is only to be seen, neither heard nor told. Or maybe I’ll tell you the ending straight away. But then I intend to live on this planet for a long time.
Christopher Nolan pulls out all the stops in what has already become one of the greatest superhero movies ever to deliver a final, grandiose and behemoth hurrah to Batmaniacs worldwide. But this might also be his least thought out movie. There are many plot holes and questionable points in the film but they do not deter the brilliance of the whole enchilada in any way. The ending is pretty open-ended and is left for the audience to contemplate upon. The editing and screenplay is a bit dodgy as there are abrupt changes from one situation to another without full explanation for the former. Although, the whole story eventually fits like a jigsaw puzzle as moment after jaw-dropping moment of delectable cinematography, crisp acting, proficient direction and Hans Zimmer’s incredible music gush past with the collected will to satisfy the hunger of celluloid lovers worldwide.
Christian Bale gives one of the most powerful performances of his life as he portrays Batman at his lowest point, hoping to rise from the ashes of the fallen hero. Tom Hardy plays the indomitable Bane and does he impress or what! He breaks the very spirit of Batman and is impressively expressive with just his eyes and body language, with the mask covering his mouth. Comparisons with Heath Ledger’s joker will always haunt him but he makes up for a great villain all the same. Anne Hathaway is the Catwoman and she is subtle, naughty and the femme fatale that Michelle Pfeiffer would be proud of. Some of her dialogues are corny but that can be passed in a movie of this magnitude. Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a businesswoman who helps stabilize Wayne Enterprises. Cotillard is charming in her role and she has more to offer than previously envisioned. Morgan Freeman plays the genius scientist Lucius Fox who provides Batman all his badass gadgetry and makes him more than a martial arts expert. Michael Caine is Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s butler. Caine delivers a fantastic performance by playing the man of wisdom. His eyes, the humanity in them, the quiver in his voice as he helplessly watches his master’s world falter, is flawlessly executed. Brilliant actor! Gary Oldman reprises his role as the incorruptible Commissioner Gordon, who feels guilty for hiding Harvey dent’s true nature from the public is as good as he always is. But the honours for the acting chops must go to Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He plays John Blake, a Gotham City Cop and one of the few ones who believe in Batman’s innocence. He suits the role and plays the hero without the cape, becoming a perfect ally for the solitary operating Batman. Other actors are Cillian Murphy(Scarecrow/Jonathan Crane) and Liam Neeson(Ra’s al Ghul) who make short appearences followed by cheers from the audience.
The Dark Knight Rises is more than a movie. It is the end of an era. An era which started when the superhero world was distraught with cheesy comic heroes directed with a pin-hole vision. It is safe to say that Nolan has revolutionized the genre single-handed and our only hope as fans of comic book heroes is that he continues to do so.
My Rating - 8/10
A Cock’s Tale
In a recent national magazine feature, 6 legends from various field were asked to name their rightful scion. One of those rightful legends was Yash Chopra. And his answer was Imtiaz Ali. And I cannot agree more. All his films till now, be it the doe-eyed Socha na Tha or the passionate, tragic Rockstar, have been Mint-o Fresh. Cocktail which is written by him and has his stamp all over it, unluckily is a lollipop with an expired core which starts caramel and rum, but rots smoothly just as you begin to enjoy it.
Meera (Diana Penty <3),lands at the Heathrow, lost and helpless, only to bump into Veronica (Deepika Padukone), the party girl who is a rich bitch in her own words. Veronica, turned on by her simplicity, lets her stay in her apartment. Soon they are best buddies and the apartment turns into a ‘home’. On one of their night outs, Veronica picks up Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) cos she likes his harum-scarum nature. He moves into their apartment and now has the perfect life where Meera cooks for him and Veronica puts him to sleep every night. Things get complicated however when Gautam and Meera fall in love despite hating each other initially. And from here, the rum and caramel begin to fade.
Cocktail is directed by Homi Adajania, whose last film was the brilliantly twisted Being Cyrus, released way back in 2006. (That’s 8 years back, when Deepika and Diana weren’t even adults and Saif was just about to suffer Chest pains the following year.) He is a competent director, no qualms about that. He keeps the things lively in the 1st half, and the 3 characters seem to be having genuine fun in each other’s company. He also doesn’t succumb to dumbing down things for the audience. But he loses his grip on the film completely in the 2nd half when the script asks for a more serious atmosphere. There are just too many songs, and too much of them at that. And each one of them is neatly divided by situatuin and mood. So there will be one song emoting loss of friendship amidst a montage of all 3 of them crying separately. Then there will be another just 5 minutes later telling us about how dull and complicated their life has become. Another problem I had with the movie was it suffered from a terrible Love Aaj Kal hangover. Saif playing a stud, London, distance making lovers realize their feelings, flying back to India for the climactic proposal, and the proposal entirely made up of a defining moment in the couple’s life (Breakup in LAK and first meeting in Cocktail). And Meera!
Now let’s begin with Saif first because he is the oldest. HE IS TOO OLD TO PLAY THIS PART AND IS IT NOT ENOUGH THAT HE IS WITH KAREENA THAT HE ALSO GETS TO KISS DIANA PENTY IN THIS MOVIE WHO IS MORE THAN ONE PUBERTY YOUNGER THAN HIM? Apart from the above, he is quite good actually, but nothing unseen of him. I genuinely enjoyed his acting in the scene on the beach where he is trying to cheer Meera with a mock conversation. Diana Penty looks gorgeous and carries herself with a quiet dignity. Her expressions do need a little oiling though. Dimple Kapadia as Gautam’s mother is hilarious and has a terrific chemistry with Boman Irani who plays her brother.
So there is Imtiaz Ali, Homi Adajania, Dimple Kapadia, and Saif Ali Khan among the cast and crew. But still who owns this film? It’s Deepika! And she owns it so much that she deserves an entire new paragraph just for herself. She is bitchy, has got rid of that awful accent and even tries to carry the film in the last hour. And this time, she finally let her beautiful eyes do the talking. And her ass too!
Cocktail isn’t the best romantic comedy of the year. That still is Ekk Main aur Ekk Tu. But it comes pretty close only to lose the race in climax where EMAET had its nitro boosters on and this one has a flat tyre. I still found it immensely watchable and likeable. But I expected a stronger kick out of this one.
My Rating 6/10
All the nightclub scenes, especially the one where Veronica finds herself alone despite the crowd. Very, very superb piece of Cinematography and Editing.
The ‘conversation’ after the complication between the trio was straight to the point and actually funny.
There was a slo-mo scene in which Deepika shatters a mirror in a washroom with her mobile phone. It was fucking awesome.
There was no chemisrty whatsoever between Saif and Diana.
So Saif is having a good time with Veronica until he realizes he wants someone to cook and clean for him and falls in love with Diana instead. Is that really love?
The characters were too uni-dimensional. Stud, bitch, girl-next-door, Mother, Mama.