Saturday, February 23, 2008

Jodhaa Akbar

Rating : 7/10
Running Time : 213 mts
Release Date : 15th Feb ‘08
Director : Ashutosh Gowariker ; Writer : Haider Ali ; Music : A R Rahman
Starring : Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ila Arun, Suhasini Mulay, Sonu Sood and Punam Sinha.

Viewers of this film will be forced to make a choice.

They will either choose to be swept away by the wonderful visual imagery of this period drama, the awesome scale of it all, the undeniable charisma of the two leading stars, the very solid performances of all the character actors. They can soak in the authenticity, the clothes, the jewellery and the elaborate sets, and even the formal language, the relaxed pace and the overall ambience.

Or they can choose to focus on the lack of a powerful, stirring storyline (a la Lagaan), they can focus on the length and the fact that its more a series of sub plots which comprise the film without a truly unifying plot, they can complain about the lack of a great climax or the fact that there are periods during the film when you can look around the hall and wonder what everyone else is thinking. They can complain even about the formal language, the relaxed pace and the overall ambience.

I think it totally depends on your perspective, the mood you go in with, the degree of the expectations etc. As for me, as my rating suggests, I'm more in the former camp than the latter (I was actually at sixes and sevens between giving it a 6 or 7 and then decided to be generous). I enjoyed the way the it does wrap you up in its atmosphere and transport you into another era. I also acutely felt the lack of a great ending / a single focal point in the film and was disappointed that Ashutosh was not able to bring it all together like the cricket match in his earlier film.

The movie is about a Muslim prince entering into a alliance with a unwilling Rajput princess due to political expediency and then charting how their relationship develops, the court intrigues, the foibles of that era etc. The clear highlights were the performances of the leading pair, both easily fitting into that era, changing their walk, language and mannerisms to suit their characters. If you want to see how not to do it, you can observe Abhishek in the remake of Umrao Jaan, where he seemed to mouth the dialogue without believing in the lines or their meaning and his walk still retained the jauntiness of the twenty-first century rather than the stateliness of another era.

The other notable features were the sequence involving Hrithik practising sword-fighting in front of Aishwarya's room (made interesting when he realises she's watching), the fight with the elephant and two magnificient songs, one 'Khwaja mere Khwaja' because of its simplicity and spiritual picturisation and the other, 'Azeem-o-shaan Shahenshah' because of its scale, choreography and grandeur.

In this film when you walk out, you do it with no great emotional change or no provacative thoughts mulling around your head. So in that respect it is a 'time-pass' film. However, it is a beautiful experience, enjoyable for those who relish this kind of thing and its made all the more magical by the presence of Hrithik and Aishwarya, who, according to me, continue to be the best looking screen couple in the world.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Rating : 3/10
Running Time : 100 Minutes
Release Date : 8th Feb ‘08
Director : Rajat Kapoor ; Writer : Rajat Kapoor and Saurabh Shukla ; Music : Sagar Desai
Starring : Ranvir Shorey, Naseerudin Shah, Neha Dhupia, Vinay Pathak, Saurabh Shukla

I think the rating would probably be 7/10 for the first half and 1/10 for the second…

It starts off as a kind of comic ‘Don’ (or Don on skates, to be more precise) and then…,well I’m not quite sure what happens next really except to say that it crashes and burns. The 20 minute ride back home at 1am in Pune was actually more interesting than the second half (thanks to the amazingly narrow exit at the Inox car park, two idiots in Indica’s who felt the desperate need to race each other and a very lazy autodriver who, from my left lane, felt the sudden, inexplicable yet compelling urge to u-turn)

We shouldn’t take anything away from the first half where Ranvir, Vinay and Brijendra Kala combine spectacularly to provide us a barrelful of laughs. Ranvir is excellent throughout the movie and hopefully this movie can help him appear in more meaningful roles vs the comic cameos so far. Neha Dhupia confidently struts her stuff (pun intended, she has potential, this girl). Naseer is good and the whole thing is brilliantly set up. Which is why the events of the second half are absolutely baffling – I really struggled to stay awake, my wife actually managed a gentle snore and even when we returned home, despite a debate, we couldn’t be sure exactly what had happened. It was like a football match where two sides go hammer and tongs at each other in the first half for a 3-3 halftime scoreline and then replace their strikers and decide back-passing to their respective goalies is the best form of offense for the whole of the second half. Baffling, absolutely baffling, the mysteries of day to day life continue to confound, I tell you…

I’d complained in the previous review (of Sunday) about how the director couldn’t make up his mind whether he wanted to make a comedy or a thriller. Imagine the complication when the director here decides to make a comedy – thriller cum romantic movie ? I’ve known a lot of successful comedy –thrillers (48 Hours, Stakeout, Beverly Hills Cop spring to mind) and even more romantic comedies or rom-coms as they’re affectionately called (When Harry Met Sally, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pretty Woman all were great to watch) but I struggle to name one which successfully spans all three genres…And I’d been so looking forward to this one ! What a pity….