Friday, March 29, 2013


Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 29th March, 2013
Time : 150 minutes
Director & Writer : Sajid Khan; Music : Sajid-Wajid
Starring : Ajay Devgn, Tamannaah, Mahesh Manjrekar, Zarina Wahab, Paresh Rawal, Leena Jumani, Adhyayan Suman

Shortly into the movie, Zarina Wahab, in her Nirupa Roy like vengeful mother in white avatar says just killing isn’t enough. You must torture, make helpless, remove all hope. Sajid Khan does precisely all that with his audience, turning out a really trashy, silly remake of the ’83 film.

The movie features :
The supposedly villainous landlord, Mahesh Manjrekar, who comes across as a weak caricature and his arrogant daughter, Tamannaah.
Stupid dialogue
The wronged mother (Zarina), driven along with her daughter (Leena, hired only to weep) outside the village
A silly story, out of place in todays times
The hapless villagers
Tasteless jokes
The nasty Munim (Paresh Rawal), who along with his son (Adhyayan) tries to always be on the winning side.
The same old action sequences, only this time with cable
And an over the top, indestructible, tiger fighting, Tamannaah taming, force of nature hero, Ajay Devgn

Some jokes are funny but they are so far and few in between that they hardly provide any relief from the rest of the cacophonous film. There is an attempt at a couple of twists but they fall flat. The villain can get prize fighters from the city to fight with the hero, but hadn’t anyone ever heard of guns ? The movie, which could’ve been over and done with in possibly 45 minutes, meanders on, aimlessly for more than an hour more than that before coming to a merciful end.

Towards the dumb climax scene, in a classic throwback to the films of yore, Zarina turns towards the statue of the goddess and wails “Bas, ab aur zulm nahin, bas karo…”. My sentiments exactly but the movie still took another half hour to finish…

G I Joe : Retaliation

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 29th March, 2013
Time : 110 minutes
Director : John M Chu; Writers : Rhett Rheese, Paul Wernick; Music : Henry Jackman
Starring : Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan Pryce, DJ Cotrona, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Arnold Vosloo, Byung Hun-Lee, Elodie Yung, Ray Park, Ray Stevenson

As someone who hasn’t seen the previous instalments, I found the action slick but the plot confusing and somewhere along the line from almost non-existent to unintentionally laughable. Without a plausible story to string it together, the whole thing then just becomes a smorgasbord of biceps, bullets, brawn and bombs…

Cobra has a sinister plot to blow up / takeover the world. They kill most of the GI Joe’s. Now its up to the handful of survivors to fight an entire army, penetrate the President’s security even as he hosts a world leaders summit (nice to see India featuring there) and foil the dastardly plot.

Adrianne Palicki stands out, particularly in a red dress. The whole side plot of Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes and Jinx was confusing and possibly unnecessary to the main story. Dwayne Johnson, DJ, Bruce Willis all try their best to look serious as they fight with gay and foolish abandon.

Nothing here is meant to last longer than its cinematic length. Or carry any cerebral pretense. Just wish the story had half as much beef as some of its lead actors…

Friday, March 22, 2013

Django Unchained

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 22nd March, 2013
Time : 165 minutes
Director & Writer : Quentin Tarantino; Music : Mary Ramos, Quentin Tarantino, Ennio Morricone
Starring : Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo Di Caprio, Samuel L Jackson, Kerry Washington, Laura Cayouette

Classic Tarantino. Draw up some fascinating characters, infuse life into them, give them quirks that make them walk amongst us. Throw in a scintillating soundtrack. Awesome acting. Amazing action (imagine Kill Bill but in the Wild West). And wrap it all up against the backdrop of the years of the slave trade, just before the Civil War. Voila, you have a film that enchants and enthralls at the same time.

We can carp over details – its probably a bit longer than it needed to be. Its highly unlikely a real slave, like Jamie Foxx, could behave the way he did after years of servitude being drilled into him. Its unlikely that the unlikely team of Christoph Waltz, the German dentist cum bounty hunter and Jamie, get as far as they do with the ruthless plantation owner, Leonardo Di Caprio. But while watching you don’t feel so, it all comes across as very natural, and aided by the good doctor’s eccentricities, very enjoyable too.

Christopher Waltz, bounty hunter extraordinaire, doesn’t believe in slavery. And when he encounters Jamie Foxx, a slave with ‘sand in him’, who is useless to his masters, he is happy to partner with him in the true sense of the word. Offer him a cut of the money, let him pick his own clothes, train him and empower him. And then, after a profitable winter, help him in his quest to find his wife…

Jamie Foxx smoulders in his role, the strong, silent type but with a huge chip on his shoulder regarding his colour and status as freeman. Leo Caprio is believable as a plantation owner with his own ideas on what to do to relieve himself of boredom. Samuel L Jackson is great as Leo’s helper in chief. But its Christopher Waltz, as the trigger happy, smiling, suave, verbose, fashionable and quirky bounty hunter, who provides the soul to the film. Who breathes life and fun into a film that otherwise highlights the terrible times of slavery, a time when one race ruled over another just on the basis of skin colour and a perceived, erroneous notion of scientific superiority.

This is not a film you forget in a hurry. Be prepared for lots of bloodshed – in terms of body count its probably just shy of Kill Bill but not that far behind. Be prepared to be shaken up a little. Be ready for dialogue that bites (the bit about Alexander Dumas, the silent ‘D’ in Django, the Ku Klux Klan and the problem with the hoods, the knife edge exchanges between Waltz and Leo), all just make this film a wonderful cocktail of the sweet yet sour kind…and with a kick that makes sure the feeling lasts for some time to come.

Olympus Has Fallen

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 22nd March, 2013
Time : 120 minutes
Director : Antoine Fuqua; Writer : Creighton Rothenberger; Music : Trevor Morris
Starring : Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Richard Yun, Finley Jacobsen, Angela Bassett, Melissa Leo, Dylan McDermott, Radha Mitchell

This is basically Die Hard but located in the White House and with the jingoism of Independence Day / Armageddon, complete with the ‘God Bless America’ and USA being the centre of Earth kind of stuff…

Gerard Butler, top secret service agent, is banished from the White House because the President (a very spunky Aaron Eckhart) doesn’t want to be reminded of a tragedy that happened during his watch. He is special buddies with the President’s son, Finley and on very good terms with the Secret Service Director, Angela Bassett. Which makes it very convenient that he is there when terrorists invade and take control of the White House.

There can be a lot of probably valid questions raised on how easily the White House was taken over, the tepid response of the US military which meekly stands down when ordered to do so by the terrorists. The nature of the demands as well can be called into question, being eminently reversible.

It’s a feel good film at the end of the day, enlivened by some cameos like Melissa Leo, who doesn’t want her tombstone to read ‘She died without a fight’, and Morgan Freeman as the Speaker who becomes Acting President and does an admirable job of it despite the ‘let me handle it’ kind of pressure from Chief of Staff, Robert Forster.

The humour is decent but not outstanding, the action is slick, the movie bristling with tension, Richard Yun makes for a chilling villain and the film is a classic feel good action flick which is enjoyable to watch (keeping logic aside) but nothing, either action wise or character wise, really stays with you for too long after the end credits roll on the screen

Friday, March 15, 2013

Jolly LLB

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 15th March, 2013
Time : 131 minutes
Director & Writer : Subhash Kapoor; Music : Krsna
Starring : Arshad Warsi, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Amrita Rao, Manoj Pahwa, Sanjay Mishra, Harsh Chhaya, Mohan Kapoor, Mohan Agashe, Ramesh Deo

This is a thinly disguised, sarcasm laden, humour filled, biting and touching attempt to showcase the creaking, broken machinery we call the Justice system in India. It has its heart in the right place (the film, not the system) and on more than one occasion you find yourself rooting for Arshad Warsi as he seeks justice for some dead labourers, fighting a wheeler-dealer lawyer (Boman), the corrupt, we-will-look-the-other-way police and a court that doesn’t seem to have paid heed to Sunny Deol’s famous ‘Tareek pe tareek’ emotional dialogue in Damini

Arshad Warsi is from Meerut and life isn’t panning out the way he wants it to. He has a sweetheart, Amrita Rao, but that’s about the only thing he has going for him. He decides to peddle his wares in Delhi, dreaming about a big break, media publicity and hitting the mythical jackpot. A famous hit and run case presents itself as an opportunity, involves the wealthy scion of an industrialist family who keeps getting acquitted thanks to witnesses and evidence disappearing faster than the best David Blaine can manage. While at first Arshad considers striking a deal as well, but then, spurred by some sarcasm and a tight slap from an unlikely source, he decides to actually fight and walk into the battle all guns blazing.

Saurabh Shukla almost steals the show from under the noses of the two opposing litigators with his fantastic turn as the district court judge presiding over the case. Arshad is excellent, as the small town lawyer finding his feet in the big bad world of Delhi, have always felt (especially after watching Sehar), that he is highly under-rated as an actor). And Boman is every inch the dismissive, big shot lawyer, who feels its ok to even correct the judge when he feels something is not happening as per procedure (and to even lose his cool if the judge doesn’t listen).

There is something poignant about the film. You feel for the labourers, homeless and removed from their native place, an easy target for anyone looking to pick on the weak (I still remember one of the high profile Mumbai real life cases involving multiple deaths, where the accused said 'But they were only labourers ?', puzzled anyone was making such a fuss). You feel for the small-time lawyers, sitting outside the courthouse with their typewriter and moonlighting as astrologers / orchestra singers to make ends meet. You feel for the system, creaking under its own weight and procedures and the burden of lakhs of unheard cases. You feel for the few honest, well-intentioned people, trying to get by, while the many corrupt apples do their damnedest to remove or belittle them. Probably because honesty makes them nervous ?

What the film does do is get its characters spot on, and even if, on more than one occasion, you are wondering about some logical flaw, you are too invested in the drama unfolding, the age-old Good Vs Evil fight, the David vs Goliath, the fight between the oppressed and the powerful, to pay too much regard. And most of us, who feel for the state our country is in, find ourselves laughing at the little jokes, the snide remarks against our ruling class, cops and bureaucrats and cheering full-throatedly for Arshad and his band of merry men as they struggle for that mythical thing called justice in our country…before we return to our homes and do nothing about it...

PS : As an aside, I felt the ‘item number’ during the end credits, just didnt fit the particular mood or moment…

Mere Dad Ki Maruti

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 15th March, 2013
Time : 102 minutes
Director : Ashima Chibber; Writer : Neeraj Udhwani; Music : Sachin Gupta
Starring : Saqib Saleem, Prabal Panjabi, Rhea Chakraborty, Ram Kapoor, Ravi Kishan

Light hearted, breezy, funny, shallow (almost like the people its portraying), full of the classic stereotypes about Punjabi’s, this is a film where the overall story is a one liner – about a young kid who loses his car and fears the consequences from his dominating father – but the fun lies in the journey….

That the car in question has been purchased as a gift for son-in-law to be, to be given after the imminent wedding ceremony, only makes it worse. Believability is stretched more than once, with sometimes our hero choosing an option, where most would rather just go to the Dad and confess all. A taxi wala, a Maruti showroom, a cop with the IQ of a penguin and a stolen car trader cum Bhai (Ravi Kishen gets it just right as the sher spouting, gun toting Don type) are all roped in, involved at various points.

The cause of all the trauma is Rhea, she of the sexy legs, hot pants, transparent lehngas and protruding pout. The part where our hero chooses to risk his father’s wrath to ensure his first date with her goes well, is totally believable, BTW, she didn’t look the type who would be fine in an auto…

The at times hapless, at times willing co-consiprator, the faithful friend, Prabal, is excellent – in fact delivering a better performance than the lead, who I felt overacted in a few places. Special mention has to be made of the mom (unable to find her real name) – completely oblivious of the crowds reaction as she bobbed her head to her daughters (also very good, but {begin rant} why Hindi films don’t like to publish the entire credits on the net is beyond me {end rant}) over the top, wildly inappropriate wedding dance…

The movie is littered with dialogue that makes you laugh – with adequate references to social media (it’s a youth film after all) and enough Punju jokes & innovative expletives (pathe da ullu) to evoke the necessary guffaws – calling someone burger instead of bugger, or psychic instead of psycho or even proposing using really, really terrible English..

While the end is nice, complete with an unexpected twist (albeit one which stretches credulity), it does seem to arrive after much huffing and puffing. The film doesn’t have the vacuousness or the complete lack of plot that most of our so-called mass entertainers seem to pride themselves in. It does go a little further than that and entertains sufficiently for us to overlook its flaws

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Sahib, Biwi Aur Gangster Returns

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 8th March, 2013
Time : 145 minutes
Director & Writer : Tigmanshu Dhulia; Co-Writer : Kamal Pandey; Music : Sandeep Chowta
Starring : Jimmy Shergill, Irrfan Khan, Raj Babbar, Mahie Gill, Soha Ali Khan, Pravesh Rana, Deepraj Rana

Disclaimer : For various inexplicable reasons, haven't seen the earlier film, despite possessing the dvd.

Liked the dialogue, the pace of the film, the way the characters are etched (and remain consistent), the way the story unfolds, with the warring factions unleashing their moves as in a game of chess. Just wish that it was about something more interesting than politics, power.

Jimmy Shergill is a cripple, an erstwhile king, who has lost none of his arrogance or regal behavior. Who wields considerable influence in local politics. And is opposed to the planned split of the state into four smaller ones.

He is married to Mahie Gill. Who is one unhappy soul. Looking for love. Finding solace in a bottle. And the arms of other men. Is also the current MLA of the region, due to Jimmy’s physical incapacity.

Raj Babbar is another erstwhile king. Not happy to be playing second fiddle to Jimmy. Favours the splitting of the state. Father of Soha. Who Jimmy desires as a second wife. Raj is firmly opposed to the idea. But any move he makes to break free, is ruthlessly crushed. Which makes him seek Irrfan’s help.

Irrfan is a local toughie. Hailing from royalty as well. Until Jimmy’s ancestors had killed his and bundled them out. Even though the feud has been dormant for a while, Irrfan is compelled to seek revenge. And also finds solace in the arms of Soha.

Soha is an unwilling pawn in all of this. She enjoys being with Irrfan. Doesn’t seem to have any major ambitions of her own. But finds herself in the thick of the battle that ensues. And finds her loyalty, her feelings change over time.

The bombastic dialogue (Mard gaaliyan kyun dete hain ? Kyunke woh roya nahin karte) makes up for the gunfire and bloodshed that routinely punctuates the story. The characters and performances overcome the plot loopholes and breathe life into the film. Its pacy enough, endowed with sufficient twists and turns, to make it an interesting watch. Just wish it was about something else. I find politics a bit dreary now.