Monday, November 17, 2008
Rating : 7/10
Running Time : 145 Minutes
Release Date : 14th Nov 2008
Director & Writer : Tarun Mansukhani; Music : Vishal-Shekhar
Starring : Abhishek Bachchan, Priyanka Chopra, John Abraham, Sushmita Mukherjee, Boman Irani, Bobby Deol, Kirron Kher
When you’re laughing so hard (and I mean really hard) in the first hour or so, half of it is due to some brilliant ones (like Abhishek’s response when Kunal (John Abraham) asks him how he knew his name) and the other half is as you watch the movie take you further in the realm of gay and straight sexual jokes than you ever thought it possible in mainstream Bollywood. And you laugh so hard that you’re willing to forgive the predictability of the plot, the slight overacting, the clichéd ‘gay’ mannerisms shown and the slightly stretched ending.
The story is simple – two straight men (John and Abhishek) have to pretend to be gay to get an apartment on rent in Miami. They share the flat with the landlady’s niece, Priyanka, and the rest of the movie deals with how their relationship with her develops. The story is kept briskly moving in terms of the different sub plots and cameos, such as the delightfully over the top Sushmita Mukherjee as the landlady, the whole thing about Priyanka’s work life and Kirron Kher playing an exaggerated Punjabi mom once again (isn’t she bored of playing this role ? She does it well but isn't she too talented to be stuck playing the same role…?).
The people who really make the movie come alive are Abhishek and Priyanka. Abhishek is at his expressive best, and even though his gay mannerisms are a bit too obvious, you forgive him as he brings a certain energy and vibrance to his role. He has now put together an impressive array of roles in his CV – from Yuva to Sarkar to Dus / Dhoom and now this. Priyanka, trust me on this one, has never looked hotter. I could probably write a page just on her, with maybe a paragraph just on her opening shot where the camera begins with a close-up of her lips and then lovingly caresses other body parts, totally inappropriately for a movie releasing on Children’s Day. The amazing thing is, on a recent flight I was watching parts of Drona, and you almost can't believe it’s the same pair in that film and this – what a change a good director and well-written roles make….
John alternates between his lost-puppy and his naughty-hunk look, seems content to play second fiddle to the smaller B. Boman Irani is a bit too la-di-dah in his gay avatar, I don’t really know if he and the Javier immigration guy were necessary at all. Sushmita provides one of the abiding memories of the film with her Marilyn Monroe photoshoot, and Bobby is a bit too straight (pun intended), too flat and a bit too love-sick in an otherwise mad movie.
The songs are brilliant – really get you going, feet tapping, heart racing and I’m sure I will hear nothing else on the radio stations / discotheques for the next month. The jokes, though, are what really set the movie apart. Such as when Abhishek is asked by this American guy what made him become a nurse or the whole theory about Gabbar being gay or the ‘aur bum ki baat ?’ Freudian slip or even the performance of ‘beedi jalaye le’. There are plenty of moments which stand out for their sheer humour – and its of a slightly more elevated level vs say a Golmaal Returns – not necessarily slapstick.
The best moments are when the three of them are together, especially in the first half, when they’re upto some madcap caper or another. The pace does drop a bit in the second half but at the end of the day, it’s a gay film which makes you feel precisely that – very very gay…though of course in another sense…
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Rating : 8/10
Running Time : 106 Minutes
Release Date : 7th Nov 2008 (India)
Director : Marc Forster; Writers : Paul Haggis, Neil Purvis, Robert Wade; Music : David Arnold
Starring : Daniel Craig, Olga Kurylenko, Judi Dench, Mathieu Amalric, Gemma Arterton, Giancarlo Giannini
Right from the beautifully done opening sequence by MK12 where sensuous female forms merge in and out of sand dunes, its almost as if someone took a look at the last Bond film (Casino Royale) and then decided to dial everything up a notch. The plot was much better, the women more stunning, the jokes funnier, there were more action sequences with several heart stopping moments and the one liners dripped with sarcasm.
There is a mysterious group, undefined, not truly known to MI6, which is indulging in activities which don’t totally make sense to M and her cohorts, Bond included. Fronted by Mathieu Almaric, they seem to be doing a mix of sponsoring philanthropic activities and the occasional revolution. The CIA, using the expediency that characterized the Bush administration, decides that they can sleep with this group, in return for (of course) their pound of flesh. So now, as expected, its up to Bond to save the world once more, at times even without the backing of the British government.
Dull moments, that is those where your heartbeat is under 100 beats per second, are almost on ration as a car chase in a quarry soon becomes another parkour like sequence on the rooftops of the very picturesque Sienna which in turn swiftly converts into a fight sequence and later on a boat chase in Bolivia. And all this within the first half hour.
Olga Kurylenko and Gemma Arterton provide the eye candy extremely ably. And Daniel Craig – I think I’ll have to take back my comments on him (and agree with what Rohit said in the comments section of Casino Royale) as he really has grown quite beautifully into the part, replacing the suave-ness of the Brosnan era with a very hard, physical Bond, who doesn’t mind killing a lot of people and getting all bruised and cut up.
The difficult thing about Bond movies is that you know how its going to end. The trick remains on how you can make the journey there interesting. And while they stretched the realms of credibility a bit too much with this ending for me, this one works beautifully in making the journey one of the most action packed ones in recent memory.
Rating : 5/10
Running Time : ~120 Minutes
Release Date : 7th Nov 2008
Director & Writer : Saurabh Kabra; Music : Chirantan Bhatt
Starring : Sanjay Dutt, Aashish Chowdhury, Urmila Matondkar, Arjun Rampal, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Neha Uberoi, Manoj Joshi
The film yo-yo’s between being good and mediocre and kind of settles for average. Nice moments like Sanjay struggling to open a bottle of champagne (its funny if you know the man and his experience in the area of alcohol) and some well built storylines are lost in the midst of some forced dialogue and a preachy ending.
Arjun Rampal is a DJ / Casanova and the last of the big spenders, using every conceivable credit card to spend on women, including a very skimpy (pun intended) appearance by Malaika Arora Khan. Aashish Chowdhury plays a man who gets married to Neha Uberoi on loans – one for the car, another for the laptop and a third for the honeymoon. Kulbhushan Kharbanda is a very middle class father who takes a loan to pay for a slightly profligate & big dreaming son’s studies abroad. And Urmila is a widow who takes a loan to convert her husbands suicide into a murder to be able to collect on insurance. All these people are now passed onto ‘Good Recovery Agency’, headed by Sanjay Dutt, which specializes in the strong arm method of loan recovery. Sanjay has political ambitions though, and some advice he’s given changes the way he chooses to collect in these cases.
There are some nice laughs scattered through the film – the supporting cast (like Manoj Joshi and Snehal Dabhi) around Sanjay in his recovery agency provide the bulk of them, with names like ‘Decent’ and ‘Central’ amongst others. The variety of ringtones, the different recovery tactics all help with the amusement. The movie begins a bit flat but then picks up nicely, with each story developed till it makes sense. I found most of the songs a distraction, though, and pace dropped distinctly in the second half with the ending a bit ‘fake’, everything tied up too neatly and too quickly. Sanjay acted well, as always, though looked overweight (this was his first film after his prison stint).
As the storylines unfold, you do wonder if really there are more and more Indians falling into the ‘live on credit’ trap. I hope not, I hope we’re smarter and the frugality that is drilled into us right from the moment we are born, triumphs and prevents us from having too much fun if its on loan….
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Rating : 6/10
Running Time : 160 Minutes
Release Date : 29th Oct 2008
Director & Co-Writer : Madhur Bhandarkar; Writers : Ajay Monga, Anuradha Tiwari; Music : Salim-Sulaiman
Starring : Priyanka Chopra, Kangana Ranaut, Mugdha Godse, Raj Babbar, Arbaaz Khan, Kitu Gidwani, Sameer Soni and Arjan Bajwa
The film is a nice peek into the highly insular and very artificial world of fashion in India (and probably the world). The world of air kisses, tight deadlines, anorexic models, show stoppers and diva designers. All this compounded of course by extreme bitchiness, back-biting and jealousies. While it does a good job of communicating the high adrenalin rush you get from watching a good fashion show (just like in any other live performing art), it unfortunately shows too much of the negatives to make the film a truly pleasurable watch.
It shows, through rose-tinted glasses, the struggle of Priyanka Chopra to become a model (it cant be that bad though when you’re spending your struggling days in Café Coffee Day) and then shows how her rise to supermodel status is accompanied by a similar rise in her super-bitchiness and arrogance, and a parallel fall from grace of another model (Kangana Raut).
You watch the film with a degree of morbid satisfaction – just wondering how bad its going to get, hoping Priyanka’s character will finally see sense or someone will be able to spank some into her. There are some good performances – Priyanka’s, who looks good as always, Kangana, in yet another portrayal of a manic depressive alcoholic (can somebody please give her another role ?) and some lovely cameo’s by Kitu Gidwani, Arbaaz, Mugdha Godse, Sameer Soni and Arjan Bajwa. I really liked the dresses shown as well – quite beautiful and very vibrant colours and different materials and even the shows themselves were well choreographed with stunning backdrops. And the music / songs were nice, not interfering with the movie but enhancing it.
I really wish Madhur Bhandarkar had injected some more moments of humour (for example, in one scene, the models discover ‘made in Bangkok’ tags on the dresses of a major designer about to do a show), dwelt more on the positives (maybe more of Priyanka’s joy at the accessibility of the finer things in life) or even found a better ending / some twist as its too predictable right now. The film is actually uncomfortable to watch and depressing vs being interesting / uplifting and surely that cant be right ?
In the spirit of the festive season, the movie provides a visual depiction of not one but two age-old morals, the types we grew up being told by parents, teachers and all others around us. The first is ‘All that glitters is not gold’ and the other is ‘Pride hath a fall’. Wish someone had drilled that into Priyanka’s or Kangana’s characters as well.