Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tees Maar Khan

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 24th December, 2010
Time : 135 minutes
Director : Farah Khan; Writer : Shirish Kunder; Music : Vishal – Shekhar & Shirish Kunder (background & title track)
Starring : Akshay Kumar, Katrina Kaif, Akshaye Khanna, Arya Babbar

There are three great moments in the film. First, I loved the opening credits (quite innovative) and funky with the title track playing in the background. Second were the end credits, with Farah Khan continuing her tradition of filming everyone during the roll, right from the lightboy to herself. Third was Sheila ki Jawani. Watching Katrina pulsate and groove on the big screen, with her dresses slung impossibly low (even lower than Shilpa Shetty’s sarees), was something special. The rest of the film was terrible.

The story is pure nonsense. A great con-man, played by Akshay Kumar (we’re never given any proof of his exploits apart from a very very silly airplane caper) is hired by the evil Siamese twins (Raghu & his twin brother) to recover their loot from the cops (the most bumbling kind you’ll ever see) who are transporting all 10,000 kgs via train. Apparently Akshay is the only guy who can do this. He concocts a truly artrocious, hare-brained scheme, enlists the support of a famous actor (Akshaye Khanna), who has an Oscar fetish, and a whole village of idiots to try to steal back the treasure. Will he succeed ? What will the evil brothers do ? Don’t hold your breath, it aint worth it…

Akshay over acted, tried too hard and was too loud in keeping with the general tenor of the film. Katrina, playing Askhay’s girlfriend and a wannabe item girl, was very good, both in terms of looks and performance, playing the bimbette to perfection. Akshaye demonstrated once more why he is a fantastic actor, wish we saw more of him and in better roles.

The jokes & even the capers are silly, crass and crude. Tawaif’s, dumb cops, lipstick marks, loud, almost fluorescent clothes. The only time the jokes are funny is when they’re the insider industry jokes and most of them are against SRK. His angst at missing out on Slumdog, the craving for an Oscar, the six packs. But sadly these moments are far and few in between.

This film is another of those where I’m left full of regret at what could’ve been. What a platform this film had built in terms of excitement, hype and music. It had brought the audiences flocking back to the screens. Alas, its life is likely to be even shorter than Shelia’s now infamous Jawani…

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Band Baaja Baaraat

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 10th December, 2010
Time : 140 minutes
Director : Maneesh Sharma; Writer : Habib Faisal; Music : Salim Sulaiman
Starring : Anushka, Ranveer

Chai main dooba hua biscuit ho gaya
Main to ainvey ainvey ainvey ainvey lut gaya

This film has its heart in the right place, captures the essence of Delhi (the dhinchak Janakpuri part) and the event that brings out the most flashy, gregarious part of Punjabi’s, the weddings. The story is interesting in the first half, meanders and becomes too predictable in the second but still makes a nice film overall.

Anushka wants to open up a wedding planning business, has a tight deadline as her family wants her to get married and so has no time for love or other such niceties. Through a twist of fate and thanks to his Saharanpur relatives, she takes on Ranveer as a partner. They split various departments, resolve to never fall in love (jahan vyapar wahan na karo pyar, bread pakode ki kasam) and set up a roaring business. Around the interval they kiss. They then spend the next half then dealing with the ramifications & figuring out what to do.

I liked the freshness of the lead pair, seemed to make it more real. While they acted well, there were moments where they did seem to be hamming it a bit but they looked fine together. And the assorted ensemble cast does a fine job. Whether it’s the brother who reminds Ranveer when he’s threatening suicide that no one ever died jumping from the first floor or the rich kids from Sainik farms who want roses showered on a revolving stage after the jaimala or Anushka’s mom who has a single-minded focus on getting her daughter married or the decorater & caterer who soon form the backbone of ‘Shaadi Mubaarak’, the best wedding planners in town.

The music is nice, some songs stretch a bit but again nothing too bad. It doesn’t get too serious at any time, keeps going at a decent pace, some crisis or other at a wedding keeping us & the lead pair occupied. The writing is what makes the film stand out the most – lingo like ‘kaand’, ‘ganne chusiyo’, ‘speed le, gyaan na de’ or even the ‘shit bolti hai to bhi lagta hai FM baj raha hai’ and things like The Delhi university setting, the lousy hostel food, the wedding crashing, the U-Specials, brought back memories of a forgotten era.

I like the attempt behind this movie, using a hero & heroine who almost look like the girl & boy next door, a script that has some authentic lingo thrown in and direction / camera-work that captures the uniqueness of Delhi. Just for that alone its worth a watch.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 3rd December, 2010
Time : 160 minutes
Director, Co-Writer : Ashutosh Gowarikar; Co-writer : (Based on the book ‘Do and Die’ by Manini Chatterjee) Raoul V Randolf; Music : Sohail Sen
Starring : Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Sikander Kher, Vishaka Dutta, Mahinder Singh, Shreyas Pandit, Samrat Mukherjee, Feroz Wahid Khan

Disclaimer 1 : Nothing I’m writing here is any reflection on the actual people involved in the Chittagong uprising. I’ve not read the book nor am acquainted with the facts of this chapter in our freedom struggle. I hold in deep awe and respect each freedom fighter. All my comments are based completely on the movie & its characters, not the real martyrs.

Disclaimer 2 : In most freedom fight movies that I see, even Lagaan, my blood reaches boiling point extremely easily. First, by watching the atrocities heaped upon us by the British. Second, watching how easily we were duped and deceived by them. And third, watching Indians (including soldiers) carry out their cruel bidding – independence could’ve been far more easily obtained if no Indian had chosen to work for them. Obviously, then, this is not my favourite genre as its very hard to appreciate a film where you watch most of the film in silent rage.

This film is about an uprising that happened in Chittagong in 1930 where a group of people, led by a teacher (Abhishek Bachchan), tried to seize control of the town and send a message to the British. In this effort some teenagers (as young as thirteen, fourteen year olds) also took part as did a couple of women.

The first half moves along at a nice clip, is edited well, has some nice Q&A when the revolutionary recruitment drive is being carried out, some nice moments of humour. The second half, which deals with the actual attempt and its fallout, stretches and meanders and completely ruins the cinematic experience. You’re not sure at all of the true impact of what they were trying, of the significance of the attempt and its consequences.

A lot of questions remain unanswered, some key characters remain under developed. Abhishek, for example, why did he choose to go against Mahatma Gandhi’s decree of non-violence ? What was his logic and how come he got so many people to join him without any debate or discussion ? Also, based on the events as they turned out, he came across as a very poor leader – his planning had some obvious flaws (some extremely glaring ones), when in trouble he never seemed to be able to come up with the answers and had to rely constantly on the sacrifice of those around him and there was never any back up plan. He was hardly inspiring, he had no special gifts or talents that he brought to the fore. Similarly, all the other senior revolutionaries and the characters portrayed by Deepika and Vishaka, came across as unthinking, blind follow-the-leader kind of people. Ready to lay down their life but not totally clear or questioning enough about the methods being adopted to achieve their objective

The acting performances were very good – from Abhishek to Deepika to each of the teenage boys to senior artistes alike , they all looked and felt the part of idealistic early twentieth century revolutionaries. However, apart from Abhishek’s role, all other roles are cameos. Music is ordinary. The feel, the sets and the atmosphere though is brilliantly done. You do feel transported to another era.

This story, to make it a more interesting film needed some fictionalising. Maybe beefing up the romance a bit, for example or adding some other dramatic points apart from the uprising itself. In its current form, the second half truly pulls the film down, making it an almost unwatchable experience.

Postscript : My son didn’t enjoy the movie so much (more for the bloodshed shown in the second half) but was sufficiently fired up by the movie to write a short essay about the British rule for his classwork and a short poem about the freedom struggle. A better made film could surely inspire a few thousand more like him.