Friday, June 28, 2013

Ghanchakkar



Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 28th June, 2013
Time : 140 minutes Director : Rajkumar Gupta; Writers : Parvez Sheikh, Rajkumar Gupta; Music : Amit Trivedi
Starring : Emraan Hashmi, Vidya Balan, Rajesh Sharma, Namit Das



There is so much going right for this film that unfortunately, the stuff that doesn’t work causes intense disappointment. For a change an interesting idea (Emraan Hashmi does a bank job with Rajesh Sharma and Namit, stashes the cash, but then has an accident and has now forgotten where) is combined with well-etched, interesting characters (the polite Rajesh Sharma, the aggressive, ‘Chotta Chetan’ carrying, tharki Namit, and the Punjabi, ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it’ Vidya) and very good actors. But unfortunately the story runs out of legs shortly into the second half and the end is a bit lame and fizzles out like an old firecracker



The first half jokes are excellent, quirky – whether it is Vidya innocently asking when she should call the carpenter or the masks used during the robbery or the several conversations at the dining table about salt, pickle or fried rice or the ‘conference room’ used by Rajesh and Namit or even Vidya’s dress sense, inspired by the most elite women magazines – it flows easily and naturally.



The second half unfortunately just has more of Emraan being unable to remember, some more wild goose chases, a few red herrings etc. And then there is more of the same. And then some more. Before the climax finally kicks in. And completely deflates you. It tries to be cool (struggling to describe it without giving it away) but only ends up being a bit ridiculous




As an aside, had guessed where the bag was shortly after the interval…also dreamt up a few alternate endings each better than the one in the film…a bit sad that another film got afflicted by the curse of the inferior (& lengthy) second half, wish they had got it right…

The Heat



Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 28th June, 2013
Time : 117 minutes
Director : Paul Feig; Writer : Katie Dippold; Music : Michael Andrews
Starring : Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Demian Bichir, Spoken Reasons, Michael Rapaport, Marlon Wayans, Dan Bakkedahl, Taran Killam, Michael McDonald



2 women. Both law enforcement, one FBI, the other a Boston cop. Both loners. Don’t get along at all. Are forced to pair up in search for a drug lord. Oooohhh…the suspense is killing me, wonder how this one will turn out ?!


One of the issues is that it tries too hard to be a ‘womans film’. So words like ‘Areola’, ‘Clitoris’ and ‘Vagina’ are thrown around ina vain effort to be cool. The woman vs male card is played. The jokes are weak and mostly fall flat. And all the characters – whether the lead pair or the boss or the villain – everyone is weak, inconsistent and after a point, hard to fathom and so you lose interest.


For no one is this more true than the very dessicated looking, pinch-faced Sandra Bullock. She’s supposed to be FBI, one of their best performers but heck – she cringes with fear when intimidated by the bigger Melissa, she is unable to interrogate a witness (goes strictly by the manual, you see) and makes at least ten errors which most rookie cops would know better (not calling for back-up, needing to plant a bug in someones phone when just a wire tap would’ve been fine etc). Melissa has a more interesting role, she has a family who hates her, her colleagues are scared of her and she dumps boyfriends more often than she discards her sandwiches…but after a while its just monotonous, nothing new and their bonding / sisterhood / her fashion tips are just fake and forced.


Also the scene of the guy choking in the restaurant is so bad, tasteless, has to rank right up there amongst the top 100 worst scenes in movies !


If ever there was an advertisement on why not to join the FBI, this could be it. I missed the sweetness and spontaneity Sandra brought to some of her previous roles – everything is very forced and in playing hard cops, they lose sight of some of the other more interesting aspects of human nature

Friday, June 21, 2013

Raanjhnaa




Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 21st June, 2013
Time : 140 minutes
Director : Anand L Rai; Writer : Himanshu Sharma; Music : A R Rahman
Starring : Dhanush, Sonam Kapoor, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, Swara Bhaskar, Abhay Deol



Much to my surprise, and despite a negative, unfavourable first impression, this movie works to the extent it does only because of a live wire, enthusiastic performance by Dhanush. And his relationship with wise-cracking, I’ll-stand-beside-you at-all-costs, close friend, Zeeshan Ayyub and the madly-in-love, inventive-cursing, sweet Swara Bhaskar. Sonam irritates and displays her meager acting skills while Abhay impresses for the brief while he is there in the film



Am not quite sure what was the story the director wanted to narrate here. There is a little bit of everything. Dhanush, A Tamilian boy, son of a Hindu temple priest in Benares, not too good looking, sweet but not the type who will ever set the world on fire, falls for Sonam. Daughter of an important government official and one of those fanatic Muslim types, who on hearing she is seeing a Hindu boy, ruthlessly packs her off to Aligarh.


Life and the movie then take some very strange twists and turns – we see JNU / student politics, we see a man who despite being very principled, firm and assertive otherwise, give in to a hare-brained scheme involving lies and deceit. We see aimlessness, selfishness treachery, the seamier side of politics, religion, betrayal and death. And all the while, there is love, the one sided, steadfast, I-will-love-you-till-I-die, will-do-anything-for-you kind of love.



I would pray that no one ever falls in love with a character like Sonam, selfish, almost taking delight in punishing the other when young, and delighting in using the other when older. And definitely not in the mad, intense, one-sided way that Dhanush or Swara seem to.




The background music is nice, couple of songs stand out. The milieu of Varanasi is well captured. The dialogue for both Zeeshan and Dhanush is very good, with the most caustic, funny lines delivered with panache by the former. But in the end it’s the enthusiastic, uninhibited performance by Dhanush that steals the show. You like him, feel for him. You want good things to happen to him. He somehow connects. And that holds you through the otherwise, uneven, slightly meandering, just a tad aimless film…

World War Z




Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 21st June, 2013
Time : 116 minutes
Director : Marc Forster; Writers : Matthew Michael Carnahan, Drew Goddard, Damon Lindelof (based on the novel by Max Brooks); Music : Marco Beltrami
Starring : Brad Pitt, Mireille Enos, Daniella Kertesz



This is a zombie film. Every bit as predictable and clich├ęd as most others in this genre (though special mention must go to Zombieland for doing things in a fascinating way !). And it stars a heavyweight, Brad Pitt. They try to scare you, keep things tense but succeed only if you’re willing to overlook the numerous fatal flaws in the ultra-thin script.




Brad Pitt is an investigative journalist, now retired to spend time with his family, who used to go in and out of troubled spots. This skill makes him mysteriously invaluable when the entire world is attacked by zombies. No warning, no prior inkling, hang the different time zones – one minute the world is safe and then suddenly – sometime in the morning Philadelphia time, the entire planet is overrun with them, the President is dead and most countries ‘go dark’. The powers that be then also display an amazing grasp of medical science by deciding the only way to find a cure is by going to the country of origin. Apparently just catching any of the millions of zombies on US soil wouldn’t work. And so Brad Pitt goes jetting around a world to try to find a cure.




Despite the wafer-thin, giant holes ridden plot, there is a veneer of tension, a sliver of interest, simply because its Brad Pitt and he seems to be taking it very seriously. There is very little to remember or like otherwise in the movie.

Shortcut Romeo




Rating : 1/10
Release Date : 21st June, 2013
Time : 147 minutes
Director, Writer : Susi Ganesan; Music : Himesh Reshammiya
Starring : Neil Nitin Mukesh, Ameesha Patel, Puja Gupta



Some movies should never have been made, should’ve been rejected at script level. They are a waste of time, effort, scarce money and celluloid film (or digital bytes, as the case may be). This is one of them. Even several gratuitous flesh displays from both the leading women don’t work.


Neil Nitin is a blackmailer, good for nothing, the type who can hit his brother on the head with a bottle just because he is served food first. He catches Ameesha Patel, a very rich man’s wife, in the act with her husbands friend and figures its his passage to an easy life. He milks her for crores, buys a Jag, gets his friends over, goes around the world with them. He also amazingly has the brawn and mental acuteness to be able to beat off any toughies, other attempts on his life made by Ameesha and her lover in a vain attempt to get back the tape. But then, he falls in love. At first sight, of course (what other way is there ?). And wants her over money, if needed to make the choice.

Every character is flawed. Every emotion fake. The acting is universally bad, Neil Nitin standing out because he is a shade better than the rest. The music is awful. The production values ordinary. The jokes terrible. The fight sequences nothing that we haven’t seen before. The only thing that saves the movie somewhat are the wildlife sequences in Kenya. There is this overall feel of a South Indian film, not surprising given that it’s a remake of a Tamil film and is directed by (and even has him in a brief, laughable role) Susi Ganeshan.

Would recommend watching the government housing wala bleached yellow paint dry versus going for this one. Avoid at all costs…

Friday, June 14, 2013

Fukrey




Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 14th June, 2013
Time : 137 minutes
Director : Mrigdeep Singh Lamba; Writers : Vipul Vig; Music : Ram Sampath
Starring : Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Ali Fazal, Richa Chaddha, Pankaj Tripathi, Vishaka Singh, Priya Anand




Weird dream sequences which result into lottery numbers. A good for nothing kid who’d failed in the 1st standard. And then thrice again in the XIIth. Another who’s prayer sessions in a Gurudwara usually result in something being stolen off his bike parked outside. A college gatekeeper who has his fingers in many pies. A gangster babe who runs many rackets.



Fukrey is a film set in and celebrating Delhi, its Punjabi sense of humour, the jugaad ability and never say die attitude of its denizens while living in the cramped mohallas.


Pulkit, the kid who failed the 1st, was given company by his childhood friend, Varun, while failing the XIIth. Both now need money to buy the XII std exam papers to fufil their dream to enter Bishops, a nearby college.


While on the topic of dreams, Varun specializes in exceptionally weird ones. Usually involving Pulkit being in all sorts of trouble (there’s one where he is trying to bite himself, like a dog trying to bite its tail) and Varun coming and rescuing him. These dreams, the ones that Varun does remember the next morning, are interpreted by Pulkit the next morning and then distilled into a lottery number. And they never lose. Now they want an investor to bankroll them so that they can win big and buy their way into college.


Joining them is Manjot, a sweet boy who’s father runs a sweet shop, also desperate to get into the same college. And Ali, who studies in the college but is desperate for money due to his dad’s illness. Their official advisor is the college gatekeeper (Pankaj Tripathi) and their bankroller is Richa Chaddha, a feisty, foul mouthed gangster who is into all things nefarious.


The film is laced with funny, genuine, heart-warming moments. Manjot’s specific appeals to the Guru in the Gurudwara and the reaction of the kid sitting next to him. The non-sequitur responses of the passerby whenever something is stolen from the bike. Varun’s dreams and overall idiocy. Pulkit’s self-confidence and jugaad. Kite messaging. The Sinderella tattoo. The ‘Contact Us for Love Marriages’ sign. The excellent soundtrack.


However, the film is a bit unevenly paced. Sometimes slow, picking up dramatically and then slowing down again. The second half is a bit farcical at times with the end not going down the gullet too easily. Priya and Vishaka both have limited roles and the whole angle of the drug addict thief didn’t make sense. Everyone acts well (Ali a tad too mournful throughout the film) but Varun was the pick of the lot.


There is more going for the film in terms of its characters and style of story-telling rather than the story itself. Its a fun ride as long as you don’t care about where you land…

Man of Steel



Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 14th June, 2013
Time : 143 minutes
Director : Zack Snyder; Writers : Christopher Nolan, David S Goyer based on the character Superman created by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster; Music : Hans Zimmer
Starring : Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, Michael Shannon, Diane Lane, Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Laurence Fishburne, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix, Richard Schiff, Christopher Meloni, Ayelet Zurer




This is a Hindi movie masquerading as a Superman film, with lots of wonderful but overdone special effects. Henry Cavill as Superman is discovering himself through the film, finding reserves of power which you wonder why he didn’t use when he was getting bashed up by the bad guys. The baddies try every trick in the Hindi film book, including kidnapping the mom and the girlfriend. Amy Adams as Lois Lane is transformed into a near superwoman, who does stuff she isn’t qualified to and comes up with solutions which neither scientists or her beau can. And all this in the backdrop of alien ships, lots of explosions and skyscrapers collapsing dramatically




Henry Cavill is sent to Earth from Krypton moments before its collapse by his parents, Russell and Ayelet. His new parents, Kevin and Diane, spend a lot of time trying to unsuccessfully get him to conceal his superpowers, worried about the reaction of the rest of the world to something they don’t understand. Henry becomes a drifter, moving from job to oddjob. However, when General Zod (Michael Shannon) and his cohorts come looking for him, the time for hiding is gone, Henry has no option but to reveal himself. The only one who knows his secret is Lois Lane, the two of whom mutually fall in love at first sight shortly after he saves her life.




The climax is way too overdrawn, too many things blown up, too much of the ‘America is the center of the universe’ kind of stuff, quite predictable in lots of ways. There are a lot of things that don’t entirely make sense – the solution that Amy comes up with, the role of the Codex, the powers that the visitors from Krypton have…




The movie has its moments as does Henry Cavill, whom I found a bit wooden though, despite his Greek God, statuesque looks. What I did find fascinating was the central question – if someone with powers like Superman were really discovered on Earth, would we treat him as a threat or would we embrace him, worship him as a God ? I think the jury is still out on that one…