Friday, August 31, 2012

Joker


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 31st August, 2012
Time : 105 minutes
Director & Writer : Shirish Kunder; Music : G.V. Prakash Kumar, Gaurav Dagaonkar
Starring : Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Shreyas, Darshan Jariwala, Minnisha Laamba, Alex O’ Nell

Switch off mind, detach before entering hall. Put remaining senses on ‘watching fable’ mode. Go with a group of kids, preferably under 10. And there is a chance you may enjoy it.



There is an American, the villain, named ‘Simon Goeback’. A discussion about mineral water project which occurs thrice. Shreyas speaks in gibberish throughout, which is funny only the first five minutes. And yes, there is an item number with the chirpy Chitrangdha.
Apart from that, there is little to recommend in the film. The plot, about a person who invents aliens to get his village some attention, is laughable, the acting ordinary, the character development sketchy and unidimensional, the songs barely bearable.

This would’ve been an interesting synopsis which lost its way as it became a full fledged script. Probably approved more at star level than story. And for that I’m dearly sorry….

Shirin Farhad Ki Toh Nikal Padi



Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 24th August, 2012
Time : 122 minutes
Director : Bela Bhansali Sehgal; Writer : Sanjay Leela Bhansali; Music : Jeet Ganguly
Starring : Boman Irani, Farah Khan, Daisy Irani, Shammi


Boman, a Parsi, is 45. Dominated by his loving mother. Cherished by his grand mom. Is sweet and honest, even explains the truth patiently to a prospective brides family when his mother exaggerates to get the rishta through. Is tired of people belittling his profession, that of a lingerie salesman, despite everyone having to wear underwear. Is hounded by some well-meaning relatives, who ask too many questions and try to run his life.



He gets a shot at romance when he meets and falls for Farah, another Parsi, whom he meets in his shop. She is feisty and straightforward, lives with her comatose father and unwed paternal aunt. She hits it off with Boman, both enjoy a few moments of romance.



But soon, thanks to a squabble regarding an ancient tank, Boman is forced to make a choice between Farah and his mom, while all the other usual Parsi suspects make brief eccentric appearances.



The movie is cute, well-acted, clich├ęd and predictable. It would’ve been interesting as a short story, but seems stretched as a feature, with the conflict being nothing more than a storm in a teacup, the resolution as obvious as the recipe for a boiled egg. The writing is good, but here the dialogue needed to overcome the threadbare story and the characters needed to be able to surprise you occasionally to ensure interest was maintained. Neither occurs and so the movie remains in the territory of watch, but only with a remote at hand…

Expendables 2


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 24th August, 2012
Time : 103 minutes
Director : Simon West; Writer : Richard Wenk, Sylvester Stallone; Music : Brian Tyler
Starring : Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarznegger, Bruce Willis, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, Dolph Lungdren, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Liam Hemsworth, Nan Yu


23,645 rounds of ammunition fired. 17 grenades. 56 bombs, missiles. 27 knives. 139 body count. 44 structures destroyed. And a story flimsy enough to accommodate all of that and the combined destructive talents of Stallone, Schwarznegger, Willis, Norris, Van Damme accompanied by the relatively newer lot of Statham, Jet Li et all.

This is an attempt to recreate Avengers without the capes. There are a few moments of repartee, which despite having a ‘forced’ feel about them, still make you smile. Inside jokes between the heavyweights, ribbing each other, only partly in jest, it seems. Action wise, apart from a fight sequence with Statham and his knives, surprisingly, there was nothing else, which stood out or put some innovative, creative thought on how to kill people / demolish buildings.
The problem with having so many characters is that there is no time to build them sufficiently, which is why everyone has a wafer thin, cardboard like quality about them. This is another one, to be watched only with a remote, preferably on mute…
PS : All above statistics are made up but should be in the ballpark vicinity

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ek Tha Tiger


Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 15th August, 2012
Time : 133 minutes
Director : Kabir Khan; Writers : Kabir Khan, Neelesh Mishra; Music : Sohail Sen and Sajid-Wajid
Starring : Salman Khan, Katrina Kaif, Girish Karnad, Ranvir Shorey, Roshan Seth, Gavie Chahal


This film creates a new genre. We’ve had mindless comedies, romantic comedies, action films. This one is a mindless romance, with a touch of action and lots of unintentional comedy. Missing is the slickness or tightness or the set piece sequences of action films. Missing is the emotional depth of earlier romantic YRF films, here it is literally like two songs and pyaar ho gaya. And most sadly, missing are the memorable, larger than life characters of several films from the same production house, giving us only shallow, cardboard cut-outs instead.





Nothing makes sense. Not Salman’s, a deadly RAW agent’s, mission, to find out what a professor is upto (surely there are easier ways of surveillance in todays era of satellite technology and phone taps ?). Not his finding Katrina there, as the professors housekeeper, who’s apparently had full access to his house for the last six months but spends most of her time dancing with her vacuum cleaner & choreographing plays. Not Salman’s falling for Katrina (didn’t really take much to make him fall for her). And then the inevitable discovery of who is who in reality and the equally inevitable drama that follows.

You’re left with several questions as you watch. If you were an agent on the run, would you behave as our friendly neighbourhood RAW man behaved, or would you show more discretion ? For example, if you were caught on CCTV (even mouthing the words ‘we need to run’), would you peacefully be watching a fight in an open square the next day ? Surely there would be some practical conversation with Katrina before taking some of the steps they take ? And perhaps some emotional conversations with her, before or after falling in love ? Everyone, though, RAW, ISI, our lead pair, behave as if they’re inhabiting planet dreamland.



Salman looks cool, though maybe a bit stiff and definitely overweight. Katrina looks gorgeous, none more so than while wearing a kilt during a song.
Some of the comic moments of the first half are good – Salman’s collecting milk amongst his neighbours comments, the DD / Zee joke, the hotel check in and even in the second half the small solution to the door with multiple locks, all bring smiles to the face but the meandering storyline quickly wipes it off. The visuals of the song ‘Banjara’ were good, wish the lyrics were as memorable.
No amount of fancy locations, super slo-mo action, A list leads can paper over the fundamental lack of a sensible story. I walked in expecting a slick action thriller. What I got was a mushy, senseless romance. Best to walk in with no expectations, then perhaps there is a chance it works for you.

Bourne Legacy


Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 10th August, 2012
Time : 132 minutes
Director : Tony Gilroy; Writers : Tony & Dan Gilroy, inspired by the characters created by Robert Ludlum; Music : James Newton Howard
Starring : Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton


Despite its slow, sedate, and, at times confusing start, the Bourne Legacy picks up nicely and leaves things finely balanced for its next installment.


Jeremy Renner is one of the agents from the program that produced Jason Bourne. The agency’s way of giving him a slap on the wrist is to make him freeze his ass off & duel with wolves by sending him to Alaska for special training. Edward Norton is the man who wants to shut the program down. And he cant have these special agents turning rogue so he feels he has no option but to terminate them. And the fact that the agency has been injecting the agents with viruses, designed to improve some of their skills, but for a short period making them dependent on chemicals / pills, makes his life easier. Or so he thinks.

Rachel Weisz is one of the biochemists at the drugs company helping the agency with the program. As she explains later, she is in it for the science, she has given up a lot in terms of research papers, publishing to be part of the program. And despite having met Jeremy thirteen times over the last year or so, he is known to her only as No 5.


The first thirty minutes or so, don’t feel like a Bourne film. Lots of conversations, men in suits and despite Jeremy battling the harsh elements in Alaska, there’s not much tension build up. Things pick nicely after that though and the story moves along at a fair clip after that.

Have always found Jeremy very likeable (The Avengers, MI4, Hurt Locker), shades of Daniel Craig about him. And he fits the role of an agent who likes to talk, likes human contact and is on the run. I found the hugely talented Ed Norton a bit disappointing, unable to impart any shades of grey to his character, coming off as a bit robotic. Rachel Weisz is cute and suits her character, as always.
I like the idea of Bourne growing out of the Ludlum books, the movie character kind of taking over and going to different places. Requires guts and imagination. Have always admired that about Hollywood. Am sure the second one will be better, look forward to it…

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Gangs of Wasseypur 2


Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 8th August, 2012
Time : 159 minutes
Director : Anurag Kashyap; Writers : Zeishan Quadri, Sachin Ladia, Akhilesh, Anurag Kashyap; Music : Sneha Khanwalkar
Starring : Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Zeishan Qadri, Huma Quereshi, Richa Chaddha, Reemma Sen, Piyush Mishra, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Raj Kumar Yadav, Aditya Kumar, Pankaj Tripathi, Satya Anand


Take any Hindi film action hero. Say, Salman Khan. This film has a greater body count than all of Salman’s films put together. It also has more bullets fired than all of war movies made in Hindi and more cuss words than, say, all of Vishal Bhardwaj’s films combined.
Now, if all the above doesn’t make you rule it out instantly, it also provides brilliant humour, some interesting characters and unforgettable moments.


The story is simple. After the murder of his father, its now Nawazuddin Siddiqui vs Tigmanshu Dhulia. Nawaz has his fathers henchmen, some new ones (an amiable man named Guddu) and his younger real brother, named Perpendicular (Aditya Kumar) and step brother, named Definite (Zeishan Qadri). Tigmanshu has his old army, along with his son (Satya Anand) and is again aided and abetted by the butcher, Pankaj Tripathi. Other characters who play interesting roles are Huma Quereshi, Nawaz’s love interest, Raj Kumar Yadav as a competing don, Reemma Sen, Nawaz’s step mom, who has a small but crucial role, Richa Chaddha who plays no mean part in instigating her son (Nawaz) to seek revenge and Piyush Mishra, who remains a silent spectator for most of the film.


This soundtrack this time has real bite, a funky psychedelic feel and there is an element of humour even in moments of tension leading to great scenes. A chase scene where, while watching over the target, there is an animated discussion on which vegetables he’s buying and why. The way Nawaz’s new acquisition, his pager, is celebrated. The way the booths are captured during elections. Yashpal’s bravura performance as funeral singer, his funky rendition of ‘Yaad teri aayegi’ complete with the finger count in the middle for the missing beat…


The dialogue is great as well. Whether it’s the ‘Bhai sahib, aaj din kaunsa hai’ from someone trying to make fun of Nawaz, or Richa’s earnest plea to her newly married son ‘Beta, ya so jao ya zameen pe gadda bicha lo’ or Nawaz’s ‘tum ko yaad karke hamare haath thak gaye hain’ for his wife, upon his release from prison or his wife’s classic ‘lungi mein’ when he asks her where he’s kept his pistol. There is a que sera sera approach to life, jokes are cracked even over dead bodies and in the grimmest of situations. Tigmanshu is no less, especially when trying to assess his son, he asks him which movie did he go to and on receiving the reply ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’, mournfully pats him on his cheek saying ‘Beta, tumse nahin hoga yeh’.
What I missed were the details. In its hurry to be an epic, spanning generations, we are given very brief inputs on what they actually do in business, what investments are they making (what do they do with all the money they earn, what new businesses do they enter), what are the characters actually like, their inner most thoughts, aspirations. Apart from one scene with Nawaz and Hema, we don’t really understand them as well. This makes it hard to understand the ‘why’ behind some of the actions, betrayals of our central characters.
Nawzuddin is brilliant, mesmeric in a great performance, hope to see more of him. Zeeshan and Huma were the other stand-outs in a film where the level of acting was uniformly high. Tigmanshu Dhulia continued to impress, seems to be equally good whether in front and behind the camera.
The violence, bullets, gore can be, and is, mind numbing. Despite that some of the characters stand out, some moments linger in your memory, some scenes touch you. You are thinking about the film the next day. You wouldn’t mind watching it again, though probably with a remote control in your hand….

Friday, August 03, 2012

Total Recall



Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 3rd August, 2012
Time : 115 minutes
Director : Len Wiseman; Writer : Kurt Wimmer, Mark Bomback, inspired by a short story, ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’ by Phillip. K. Dick; Music : Harry Gregson-Williams
Starring : Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, Bokeem Woodbine

They lost the plot somewhat, actually almost literally, in all the frenetic action sequences, the bullets flying, the fancy gizmos and high speed chase scenes.
In the future, where the world is divided into the rulers (United Federation of Britain) and the oppressed workers (The Colony), an ordinary worker (Colin), who yearns for better, decides to go to Rekall, a place which will guarantee him happy memories via a brain chemical implant. His world changes upside down as he discovers he can be a lethal killing machine, so can his hot wife (Kate) and things are definitely not what they seem to be.


They kept it reasonably tight till the halfway mark but then it just descended into a cacophony of gunfire, explosions and people yelling at each other.



One of the things, though, that intrigue me about futuristic movies is to have a look at the gadgets. They have a knack of becoming real in time to come. The fridge with the digital display, the ‘eyeballs’ into the room, the mannequins with lights and the phone implant into the palm were all fascinating in the ‘I want one of that’ kind of way.


The sets were impressive, the actors did what they could but it was all too fast and too furious. Never got a chance to really feel for anyone, for us to really care for the characters or their cause.

There is something timeless and philosophical though, about the basic premise. That of the Rulers vs the Oppressed. Masters vs Slaves. Many books and films have spoken of it and the way the have’s of today are constructing walls around themselves, you do wonder sometimes, if the have-not’s patience is wearing thin. Just for provoking that thought and our recall of the gentler, more amiable Arnold Schwarznegger version of 1990, this movie can be given some brownie points.