Friday, December 19, 2014


Rating : 9/10
Release Date : 19th December, 2014
Time : 153 minutes
Director, Writer : Rajkumar Hirani; Co-Writer: Abhijat Joshi; Music : Shantanu Moitra
Starring : Aamir Khan, Anushka Sharma, Sanjay Dutt, Parikshit Sahni, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, Sushant Singh Rajput

Ten Things About PK (and I’m trying hard to give nothing of the story away)

1. Aamir displays a child-like curiosity in the film, questions many things we take for granted. Imagine, if we were brought up in isolation, without parents / elders to make us conform, how many of our customs would we find odd ? For example, the concept of money ? Or Dancing Cars ? Or even clothes ? Its inevitable then, that he gets the name he does…

2. One custom, that for sure Aamir finds very intriguing, is that of our religions. Or different companies, run by different managers, as he puts it. Just for starters, ever wondered how the colour of mourning in one is the bridal colour in another ?

3. He, for reasons that will only be clear as you watch the film, does all this questioning in fluent Bhojpuri… which definitely enhances the humour quotient

4. He only trusts two people. One is Sanjay Dutt, a band master in Mandva, Rajasthan. Who, to assuage his own guilt, takes Aamir in, gives him shelter, helps him in many ways

5. The other is the pretty, petite, Anushka (looking quite different, not all naturally I’m assured by women who claim they can make out such stuff), who helps him out of a bit of a jam. Freshly jilted by her lover, Sushant Singh Rajput and back from videsh (picturesque Bruges), she is now a TV reporter in Delhi, and her Dad (Parikshit Sahni) is a great believer in a God-man, Saurabh Shukla

6. Saurabh Shukla, as many others of his ilk, claim to have a direct line to God. And his routine, extremely well enacted, actually involves him doing a mock conversation with our Maker, whenever a question is posed to him. He ends up having a key role to play in the film

7. Aamir’s acting and dialogue delivery is close to perfect. He is brilliant and with this one cements his reputation as one of the best actors we have on screen, definitely the best amongst the superstars.

8. Rajkumar Hirani and Abhijat Joshi deserve many kudos for delivering a great script (this time hopefully no controversy from a disgruntled author) as does Vidhu Vinod Chopra for producing it. Credit also due to Raju Hirani for extracting super performances from all actors (Sanjay Dutt was very good in his brief role) and also for great locales. The music, songs by Shantanu Moitra, lyrics by Swanand Kirkire is great – enhances the film, doesn’t disturb the story / pace of the film and isn’t the type that makes you reach for the phone to check your messages (the case with most film songs these days)

9. The film is a light-hearted yet hard hitting look at life and an aspect that divides us quite deeply. Probably something that should be kept personal but is instead used more for outwardly show, to create schisms among us. Something that in recent times has led to too much ‘touchiness’, unnecessary ‘sensitivity’ and even senseless violence.

10. There is a fable like feel to the movie (was reminded for some reason of Chocolat) and it deserves a lot of credit for managing to keep the tone light, despite the seriousness of the points it makes. The choice of Bhojpuri really does prove a master-stroke in this regard. There was, I felt, one redundant love angle in the film, and the sole point deducted for its final rating is probably towards that. I recommend making time for the film this week. And taking the kids with you is highly advisable.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Action Jackson

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 5th December, 2014
Time : 144 minutes
Director, Writer : Prabhu Deva; Co-Writer: Shiraz Ahmed; Music : Himesh Reshammiya
Starring : Ajay Devgn, Sonakshi Sinha, Manasvi Mamgai, Yami Gautam, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Anand Raj, Ketan Karande, Puru Raaj Kumar

Much to my surprise, and despite its senseless story, over-burdened script, I enjoyed this one. Its one of the rare Hindi film’s where the second half is actually better than the first (quite ordinary, standard tapori stuff with the romance thrown in). The film suddenly shifts gears in the second, almost as if, directed and styled by a different director, becoming a homage to Kill Bill / Shoot ‘Em Up – way over the top but then reveling in it being so. And no one relished their roles more than Ajay Devgn and Manasvi Mamgai (Ooh, La La !), who both stood out with their performances, physiques…

The story, if one can call it that, is all over the place. The first half is about a small-time Mumbai villain, Ajay Devgn, with his side-kick, Kunaal, earning their money by bashing up people. There is also a long romance with Sonakshi, with her trying to reform him. And then, suddenly, in the second half, the film becomes a story of an international crime-lord, Anand Raj, his lustful, psychotic sister, Manasvi and our ball-busting, ass-kicking hero, Ajay Devgn, in his Action Jackson avatar, protecting Yami Gautam from them.

There are plenty of silly moments, cheap laughs – none more so than the motorcycle ride in the beginning with pani puri playing a key role or even Sonakshi’s belief that her luck will change if she see’s Ajay naked. Almost inevitably, this is mixed up with moments of cringe-worthy sentimentality – the school admission / the neighbour’s glowing recommendation – as our hero has to have a heart of gold. The second half, despite again having distracting songs which slow down the pace and some moments of redundant comedy, works better simply because its better styled, slicker and has stuff which you haven’t seen before in Hindi films – the action sequences go a bit beyond just people flying in different directions / slow mo shots of bones breaking. And Manasvi, till her role makes her half-crazed, is simply wow ! (Did I mention that before ?).

Prabhu Deva’s mind popping moves with the end credits are not to be missed. And its important in an over the top film that the actors perform their roles with a knowing smirk, helping the audience realize not to take them too seriously. Which Ajay pulls off with elan.

Exodus : Gods And Kings

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 5th December, 2014
Time : 114 minutes
Director : Ridley Scott; Writers : Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian; Music : Alberto Iglesias
Starring : Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Maria Valverde, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, Ben Mendelsohn, Dar Salim, Sigourney Weaver, Indira Varma, Aaron Paul

It’s the story of Moses. Grim. Sombre. Slow. Tragic for the most part. And apart from some snazzy sets, special effects and a fondness for Christian Bale derived from his past work, doesn’t work at all as a feature film…

It’s the story of how two step-brothers, Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, turn against each other, once their father, the Pharoah, John Turturro, passes away. How Bale discovers the secret of his birth, communicates with God through visions / hallucinations and then leads his people away from Egypt, away from their life of slavery, fighting the land and the army he once inhabited and led.

The only interesting part was watching the classic human failings – jealousy, greed, doubt, betrayal, self-preservation (vs greater good). And, the most fascinating part, whether the prophecy, like most astrological predictions, turns out to be a self-fulfilling one just because the ruler is wracked by insecurity, determined not to let it happen. In this case, if Joel hadn’t gone against his brother – would events have unfolded differently ? Or is his insecurity a key factor, nay, the reason, behind the prophecy itself ?

Have realized religious epics don’t work for me - Noah was another recent example. They soon deteriorate into who’s God is stronger, more powerful than the other. And if the seven plagues that afflicted Egypt, were the ‘right’ answer for 400 years of oppression – doesn’t that sanctify the idea of revenge ? Here I can only quote the Mahatma – “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind”