Friday, October 20, 2006

Don (2006)

I loved the movie, can’t wait to see it again, and can’t wait for the DVD so that I can see it several times again. And yes, I have seen the original Don (1978), I loved that one as well, grew up adoring it / Amitabh Bachchan. I will compare the two movies later but I loved both and both deserve their own place in their own respective era’s / time.

Don (2006) is a thrill a minute, edge of the seat, don’t blink or you’ll miss something, superbly stylised action movie. It’s a sort of Don(1978) meets James Bond (the Pierce Brosnan era, with all its hi-tech gadgetry etc). It is unbelievably slick and amazingly cool. Its got the finish of a top-end magazine like Vogue or GQ…glossy, beautiful, a work of art. And the action scenes are breathless, non-stop and come at you one after another.

I had severe reservations about Mr Khan as Don. Especially as there are few bigger Mr Bachchan fans than me – I idolise the man. However, I’ve come from the movie convinced that no one else in the current set of stars could’ve carried it off as well as Shahrukh. He looks and behaves like Don – completely different to the chocolate faced ‘Main Hoon Na’ and ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ giggling lover boy we are used to. In this movie he has a steely look about him, a nastiness that is very believable. He is slightly over the top, but only to the degree you would want him to be.

Priyanka Chopra simply sizzles. When I look at her on screen now I’m ready to do all the things Jim Carrey does in the ‘Mask’ when he see’s Cameron Diaz dance at the club ! I only wish her part was bigger. Boman Irani continues to look the part in whatever part he is given and does a very stylish take on DCP DeSilva. The music – I didn’t think too much of it when I heard it on the net…but now as I write, the refrain is pulsing in my head, all the songs have acquired a life of their own (and Priyanka sets the screen on fire in ‘Aaj ki Raat’). The wardrobe guys also deserve a special mention - from Shahrukh's suede look in 'Main Hoon Don' to the cool, black leather jacket of DCP DeSilva, to the hot numbers that adorn Priyanka - I think the clothes will spark a thousand imitations.

I’m not going to mention the plot at all – my logic is that if you’ve seen the 1978 version, you already know it to a large degree. And if you’ve not seen that one, the last thing you should do is read about it – much better to see it / experience it and be blown away ! I will add though, that there are a few twists and turns. While Farhan Akhtar is true to the overall concept of the earlier Don, he has really put his own stamp on this remake by inserting a few really unexpected moments.

Now, the promised comparison. I really believe that both movies are great and sit comfortably in their own times / their own settings. When I see the old action movies (Gold Finger / From Russia with Love) today, I enjoy them, but I do get a feeling they are a bit dated. Every era has its own ‘look’, its own definition of hi-tech…for example 30 years ago a cassette could be considered hi-tech in India. Today it would be a DVD or a micro-disk. In the old Don, I thought the overall plot was amazing / original but hated the ending (the scene in the cemetery) which I thought was a farce / a joke. The new Don takes the basic plot but puts it in current settings. Mumbai becomes KL. Instead of a rickety police van transporting Don to prison, we have an airplane (a la ‘Con-Air’). There are some new characters. There are also some old characters that are interpreted differently, have different aspects to them. And it has an ending that is sensational ! A brave, polarising ending, which, just to relay some of the comments I overheard while exiting the hall, spoilt the movie for some but made it for others. For me - it worked and I salute this 'brilliance'.

I’ve loved every Farhan Akhtar movie so far – Dil Chahta Hai is in my top10 all time Hindi movies. Lakshya comes close to that list and so now, does Don. He simply gets better and better. He manages to extract something more from the stars, show them in a different light (Hrithik / Preity in Lakshya, Aamir / Saif in DCH....Shahrukh & Boman Irani in Don). He is willing to gamble, take a risk, do things his own way. Excellent stuff !

The one criticism that is possible of this movie though, is that it’s an ‘upper class’ movie. The earlier Don, while also a slick thriller for its time, I feel still connected with the common man in India. This one, I think, will struggle to do so – in terms of the locales, settings, clothing, plot…all were great / cool for me but I don’t think will have the same appeal in the smaller towns etc. Also, the same can be said of Farhan’s earlier movies as well – they all cater more to the upper / upper-middle class of India – the world that Farhan inhabits. However, its a minor issue and I still think the movie will be a huge hit !

The great thing, I remember, about watching Don (1978) as a 7 year old, was that when you came out of the movie (and for the next few days)…you felt you were Don ! You wanted to be like him, copy all mannerisms, you were mesmerised, felt the sense of power. I saw the same impact of this Don (2006) on my son (coincidentally also 7 years old). But even better, it still had the same impact on me ! Just love it !

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Pyaar ke Side Effects

Imagine a love story with every cliché possible, every predictable twist and turn but it still manages to make you laugh…and in some parts makes you laugh very loudly. I went into this movie with very low expectations and came out with the movie having delivered a notch above.

Sid (Rahul Bose), is a DJ who meets Trisha (Mallika Sherawat) when he is playing songs at her wedding in Delhi and she is contemplating running away. Six months later they meet again, now in Mumbai. They meet some more… they fall in love ! When Trisha proposes marriage after three years, Sid is not quite ready – they then break up, patch up, break up again etc. On Trisha’s side, we have the typical over-protective father, another typical over-protective best friend and as the side love interest, the guy who she was going to get married to but ran away (at least this was something different). Sid, on his corner, has Ranvir Sheorey as a Rhys Ifans (Spike, Hugh Grant's roomie in Notting Hill) style best friend who never bathes / changes underwear, an understanding brother in law / sister, and as his love interest, the wonderfully voluptuous star (Sophie Choudhary) of the album Baby Doll Volume 3 (doesn’t leave much to the imagination, does it ?).

As you’ve guessed, the plot is not really the strong point of the movie. What is great is the style of the movie – its shot in a partly demo style, where Rahul frequently talks to the camera in the middle of scenes, kind of lecturing on what is happening, usually about the side effects of pyaar, engagement, breaking up etc. What is also very good is the honesty of the movie – no topic is taboo, they go and make fun of topics which previously were kind of off-limits (there is a full discussion around bra-straps and why they are so complicated to open for men, there is another conversation between Rahul and his Mr Big). And finally, the jokes are brilliant…I think some of them are lifted from English movies, but no worries because they have indianised them beautifully. We have Mallika’s refreshing take on what makes Delhi women different from Mumbai ones (and around the whole Mumbai vs Delhi thing in general). We have this other discussion around why marriage is not good for men, proof being that no superhero is married (I swear I’ve heard this before, but can’t remember where – in any case its so wonderfully indianised that you’ll laugh out aloud anyways !)

This is the first movie I saw of Mallika’s and I was really pleasantly surprised. I think casting Rahul Bose opposite her was a mistake – he came across as quite wooden, his dialogue delivery is quite stiff, Hindi a bit accented, definitely not as spontaneous as Mallika. Ranvir Sheorey was brilliant again as the best friend, Aamir Bashir was a very believable brother in law, Sophie Choudhary was a very believable Baby Doll Vol3.

So, put the kids to sleep and go enjoy…not one movie that you’re going to see many times or buy the DVD but definitely worth a look-see…

Monday, October 02, 2006

Khosla ka Ghosla

Khosla ka Ghosla is a humorous showcase for Delhi, a city I’ve lived in from the 6th standard all the way till end of college and a city with which I have a love-hate relationship !

I love the buzz in Delhi….the feeling that everyone is trying to progress / make money. I hate that in most cases they’re actually trying to make it illegally and its you they’re trying to rip off.
I love the aggression, the enthusiasm but hate the fact that it results in the use of violence almost as a first resort.
I love the feeling of open space / spaciousness (especially vs Mumbai which always feels very crowded) but hate the fact that due to land-grabbing / illegal construction / the conversion of single-storey bungalows into ugly multi-storeyed eyesores in residential areas, this is rapidly disappearing.
Finally, I love the mentality of anything can happen, nothing is impossible and the sheer inventiveness this leads to – the ability of overcoming any obstacle or coming up with ‘shortcuts’ is amazing but I hate the fact that this is accompanied by a complete lawlessness and lack of consideration for other humans.

Khosla ka Ghosla does a brilliant job of highlighting all the wonderful and not so wonderful things which make Delhi what it is – along with the above, you have the helpful neighbours, the chartered buses, the almost ludicrous belief in deities – Mata / Baba etc and the near - idolisation of NRI’s. And its done with a wonderful sense of realism – there are no comic stereotypes, no slapstick for easy laughs. The humour lies in the reality of the situation, the people and how they choose to overcome their problems.

Kamal Kishore Khosla (Anupam Kher), a salaried person on the brink of retirement, buys a plot of land where he can construct a bungalow which can fit all of his family – with a floor for each of his kids… Shortly after the purchase the plot gets ‘grabbed’ by an unscrupulous property developer, Mr Kishan Khurana (Boman Irani). They first try the straightforward methods, all the things you and I would do in the same situation…they meet the person who sold them the land who peacefully points out this is their problem. They meet the land-grabber who equally peacefully quotes his price for vacating the property, they meet the police who offer to get the price reduced but want their cut. They meet lawyers, politicians, activists as well who have pretty much the same response as the police. Bunty (Ranvir Sheorey), his eldest son, a good-for-nothing, good hearted, unemployed loafer comes up with the idea of using ‘force’. He hires a bunch of strong men from the local akhara (wrestling club) but the only outcome is that is father gets jailed ! Mr Khosla is now at breaking point….he is resigned to his fate and is ready to give up his plot.
This spurs his younger son, Chiraunji Lal, aka Cherry (Parvin Dabas) to try to do something. His relationship with his father was never a very good one, even though he is the smart one in the family, the one who bears the burden of all the expectations. This relationship is put under even more strain when he announces to his stunned family that he is about to leave shortly for America. His girl-friend, Meghna (Tara Sharma), is involved in a theatre group led by Bapu (Navin Nischol), and cannot understand how he can just leave, abandoning his father. The second half of the movie is all about what happens next….how a computer engineer enters the world of real-estate and without doing anything beyond the realms of reason, tries to get his increasingly reluctant father his land back.

I really enjoyed watching the movie – I loved the way some of the characters have been fleshed out…I found I could relate to them, understand why they behaved the way they did and could easily spot some of their traits in my circle of family and friends. And I loved the realism…there is nothing shown in the movie that could not happen to you and me. There are also some moments where you squirm – especially in the first half – the primary thought in my head was ‘Shit, this could be happening to me !’. You feel the pain, the agony that Mr Khosla is going through for no fault of his and his helplessness and frustration with the situation.

One more thing I really liked / want to comment on is the start – which was a very innovative way to introduce all the characters in the Khosla family and their relationships with each other.

Everyone in the movie acts very well – Anupam Kher and Boman Irani are truly the chameleons of modern Bollywood – they seem to fit into any role with ease. However, the surprises were Ranvir Sheorey as Bunty, Vinay Pathak as the visa agent and Navin Nischol’s secretary (tried hard but couldn’t get his name) - they all truly excelled in their roles and gave their characters something extra…

Khosla ka Ghosla is like a Coffee Crème Caramel – light, easy, sweet in most parts but with a touch of bitterness. When I was leaving the hall though, I couldn’t help wondering what a non-Delhiite would think of the movie…whether they could relate to the movie as easily as I did and see the humour in the situation ? Or would they think this is something else those crass people up North do ?