Saturday, September 21, 2013

Eighteen Plus

My debut book, Eighteen Plus, will release in Nov. Published by Rupa, its a collection of funny, desi, erotic, quirky short stories. The facebook page of the book went live a few minutes ago - there is a lot of action due to happen there - please do visit / like / share...And a big Thanks to everyone who made it possible...

My Twitter id for those who like their info in 140 characters or less

Saturday, September 14, 2013

John Day

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 13th September, 2013
Time : 150 minutes
Director, Writer : Ahishor Solomon; Music : Kshitij Tarey, Strings
Starring : Naseeruddin Shah, Randeep Hooda, Vipin Sharma, Shernaz Patel, Sharat Saxena

There is a germ of an interesting idea here but instead of making it blossom into a beautiful forest, with greenery and idyllic rivers, in terms of executional style, they chose the dark, gloomy, haunted woods.

John Day, the titular character, played by Naseeruddin Shah, is an upright bank manager who’s had a really bad couple of years. First his daughter dies. Then his branch gets robbed. And his wife, Shernaz Patel, is in a semi-comatose state after the daughter’s death and fully comatose after the robbery.

Randeep Hooda, is a vindictive, brutal cop, the kind who loves inflicting pain just cause he enjoys it. Ten slaps when one will do. Ten bullets when obviously just a single one would be enough. And even gorier stuff. He has no attachments (maybe girlfriend Elena Kazan is an exception but he slaps her around just to be in character), he is an orphan and works for a big underworld don, Sharat Saxena.

The bank robbery makes Naseer’s and Randeep’s paths criss-cross, with Vipin Sharma, as the dishonest cop in charge of the investigation, also playing a key part.

The plot is interesting but they go out of the way to stretch it (movie could’ve been half hour shorter with no one being wiser), throw in plenty of unnecessary plot points (Why did Naseer’s daughter have to be adopted ? Why did a smart cop not keep any extra copy of a crucial file ? How does a girlfriend he doesn’t really trust know all about it ?) and they make it far more gruesome than it needed to be (there is a need for it in Silence of the Lambs and is almost a raison d’etre in most Tarantino films, not here, just puts you off). Also the transformation of Naseeruddin Shah from mild but firm bank manager to avenging angel is surprising to say the least, though, given what he’s gone through, perhaps not entirely inexplicable.

What works are the performances, Sharat Saxena particularly convincing as an ‘honest’ Don and both the leading men pulling their weight, slotting into their roles with ease. Vipin Sharma also caught the eye with a good performance to round up the credits. Its also not a run of the mill Hindi film, something different about the treatment – its not a normal cops & robbers film or a story about corruption or a mindless action flick – and so deserves some brownie points for that.

The makers though seemed to not know whether they wanted to make a ‘noir-ish’ film or a slick action thriller, kind of falling in between, with brooding moments and some action. The film would’ve turned out much better if they’d chosen and whole-heartedly chased the latter…

Friday, September 06, 2013


Rating : 2/10
Release Date : 6th September, 2013
Time : 137 minutes
Director, Writer : Apoorva Lakhia; Music : Meet Bros Anjjan, Chirantan Bhatt
Starring : Ram Charan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Prakash Raj, Mahie Gill, Atul Kulkarni

Everyone is a laughable caricature in the film. They’ve basically taken the broad storyline from the ’73 film and sucked the life and soul from it, reducing everything to a high-decibel, badly scripted joke. And the ‘Yaari Hai, Imaan Hai Mera’ replacement song is so awful, they should probably be fined for grevious bodily harm to a classic…

Its still about an angry cop (Ram Charan), who has been transferred 17 times in 5 years, now sent to Mumbai and there he takes on the oil mafia. Led by the silly, cartoon-ish Prakash Raj, who, far from being menacing, just makes you groan in disbelief. Ram Charan also meets Priyanka Chopra, an NRI who’s knowledge of India is solely based on Hindi films and again, is silly beyond belief. Sanjay Dutt at least remains consistent but without any reason behind what he does, why…

Be prepared for a lot of bone-crunching, cable-assisted fight sequences (shouldn’t they have kept the action real ?). I had issues with literally everything (Atul Kulkarni’s character probably the only one not totally screwed up, with some good lines), even the make-up for the hero looking very fake at some points. Why do Ram Charan and Sanjay Dutt become friends ? Why / when / how do Priyanka and Ram Charan start having feelings other than irritation for each other ? Why does Prakash Raj just keep making threats, keep talking, when he has the ability to kill ? How do bullets miss their target twice, despite being fired from less than three feet away ?

The songs are as bad as the rest of the film, the dialogue trashy, the emotions fake, the situations contrived. And the sad part is I actually like most of the actors in the film. Sanjay Dutt, Priyanka, Prakash Raj have all shown what they’re capable of in other films. And have always had a soft spot for Ram Charan since watching him in the fantastical Magadheera a few years ago…

Most film-makers seem to spend a lot of time acquiring remake rights / casting for the film. Wish they spent half that scripting it. Or even just thinking about what the original film was about, what was its essence. Because after the final product, you realize they don’t have a clue…

Shuddh Desi Romance

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 6th September, 2013
Time : 141 minutes
Director : Maneesh Sharma; Writer : Jaideep Sahni; Music : Sachin-Jigar
Starring : Sushant Singh Rajput, Parineeti Chopra, Vaani Kapoor, Rishi Kapoor

People fall in and out of love too easily. Change their mind about marriage too conveniently. I understand promiscuity but this is a different level of flippancy. You also don’t get what’s it about Sushant that he gets too fairly hot women to lust for him.

Sushant Singh runs away from one marriage, from the actual jai-mala stage. Because he is not sure. Neither are we about why he runs away. He seems like a typical, dil-phenkh, sadak-chhaap boy, nothing memorable about him, not much to look at either. But first Parineeti falls for him. Then Vaani Kapoor, the girl he had left at the Hindu equivalent of the altar, also does so. Cue a couple more escapes from weddings and you wonder what the hell is going on…

The only character who remains consistent, understandable is Rishi Kapoor. A man who employs both Sushant and Parineeti as fake baraati’s and otherwise runs a wedding catering / baraat business. His advice, concern for the three leads remains genuine. And even though there are plenty of ‘I love you’s’, kisses and sex, not once do you feel anything is real or heart-felt…which kind of allows the whole movie to pass you by as well, without any regard for whats happening.

Some of the jokes are funny (the opening bus sequence, the whole arranged vs love marriage, Rishi's advice to both Sushant and Parineeti). The rustic touches are good, the atmosphere, small-town feel works and the performances sincere. Pity you just don’t agree with either the overall plot or the characters created.