Sunday, September 16, 2007

Nanhe Jaisalmer

It’s a little bit of a fairytale, a little bit ‘preachy’ but beautifully made, supported by great acting and some well-sketched characters and so connects with the audience very easily.

Nanhe Jaisalmer is the story of a ten year old boy, the primary bread winner of his family, who cannot read or write but can converse with tourists in four languages. When he was four, Bobby Deol, the film star, had picked him up during a shoot and called him his friend. So Nanhe calls Bobby his ‘dost’ (friend), has a room full of his posters, watches his every film and writes countless letters to him. Suddenly, there is news that Bobby’s latest film is going to be shot in Jaisalmer…and Nanhe just knows that he will come and meet him. Does he ? Watch and you’ll find out.

There are some interesting sub-plots regarding his sister’s wedding and also about the ‘Madamji’ who forces all the elders / young to attend night school to become literate. What lifts the movie though are the rustic touches – the simplicity of the lives of the different characters shown – the paan wala who reads the newspaper to Nanhe, the drunk who asks Nanhe to shield him during night class whenever he wants to take a swig, the bespectacled folk singer, the shop owner etc. Dwij Yadav is great as Nanhe – his dimples and enthusiasm are contagious. And the mom and sister also act beautifully.

Only disappointments were the music (I thought it was ordinary), a slightly prolonged and unnecessary opening sequence and a little, just a little heavy handed preaching during the movie. It was a bit like Aesop’s Fables with a moral after most sequences in the second half.

However, its nice, good, clean fun. Even if life in small towns is no longer really as simple or nice as depicted, it’s a lovely portrait of how we would like it to be. Definitely worth a watch, with or without the kids.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Its juvenile, descends into brainless slapstick often but still manages to make you laugh, that too very loudly and almost uncontrollably in a few places. A good example of a good timepass movie.

Four friends are told about Rs10 crores being buried in a location in Goa. They are forced to tell a cop on their tail about it as well. After a few unsuccessful attempts to settle who gets how much, they decide its every man for himself and each chooses their own zany way to get to Goa first. The ending is somewhat senti / mushy but the rest of the movie does not deviate in its steadfast reolve to make the audience laugh.

In the process you get quite a few PJ’s (the blank 'horse & grass painting' springs to mind), a few decent ones and a few great ones (the ‘Sholay’ rip-off, the whole aircraft scene, especially the bit with the aircraft controller were memorable). The acting was decent (Aashish Choudhary, one of the four, overacts too much though and Arshad Warsi looks disinterested overall), the music was standard (2-3 item numbers where people dressed in cool clothes in cool clubs, make cool gestures while surrounded by hot babes in skimpy outfits….you get the picture ?).

The one jarring note for me was Javed Jaafri’s character, who is shown to be the dumb one amongst the four friends, is also shown to be someone who lisps. From a plot point of view, there was absolutely no need for him to be lisping and it irritates me when people associate physical disability with something like stupidity just to raise a few cheap laughs – he could have been speaking normally and in fact I think the movie would have been better off for it

We went, we saw, we had a good time. Nothing more, nothing less.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Aag (the review)

Ridiculous, pathetic, terrible. Add over-hyped, shoddy and poorly written and you begin to get an idea of how bad it was. All the points made in my preview hold true and then some. This is a new genre – unintentional comedy leading to unintended horror amongst the audience.

It sucks big time as a movie

  • Camera angles : RGV (Ram Gopal Verma, the director), delights in weird camera angles that only enhance the feeling of nausea and detract completely from the characters / movie.
  • Bad Acting : Nisha Kothari is the worst of the lot – cant act, cant talk, cant emote. I hope for her sake she has a good figure and is willing to bare all as that is her only hope for making it big in Bollywood. Prashant runs her close in terms of overall badness and everyone else compete for 3rd place.
  • MohanLal as Narsimha : his southern accent jars and makes you laugh. The man can act, but is wasted. I kept thinking there may be a twist, which justifies him being from South India but no such thing.
  • Completely disjointed, undeveloped / rushed story : we don’t understand what the movie is about – since it shifts to the Mumbai underworld. If it weren’t for the orginal Sholay, like most of the actors, I would have been groping in the dark. We don’t feel for any of the characters here since they are woefully undeveloped.

Vs the original Sholay (maybe I shouldn’t even honor this tripe with a comparison to Sholay, but I cant resist, I love the original too much)

  • The relationship between Amitabh / Dharmendra : One of the highlights of the original was the chemistry between the two – how two characters so different to each other got along and functioned beautifully as a team. Amitabh, as the strong silent type paired with the ebullient, emotional, extrovert Dharmendra. Here, there is no difference between the two – they are the same, both ambling aimless idiots vs the men of steel they were trying to emulate. As if to rub salt in the wound, they even become police informers in the beginning.
  • The senti / mushy, romantic ‘I love you’ crap : Neither with Dharmendra nor Amitabh along with their leading ladies, was there any romance. Their characters were too macho to allow any of this shit. Here you have both their replacements getting into ‘I love you’. ‘No. Really, I really love you’ stuff.
  • Prashant is, looks & acts half Sushmita’s age !! This pairing doesn’t work, is a non-starter, while the Amitabh-Jaya pairing was one of the most touching things in Sholay.
  • Of psychotic vs menacing villains : I don’t think, with all due respect to Pran, there has been a more intimidating villain than Gabbar Singh in Sholay. And amazingly it is done without any hint of gore, over the top violence. Here Babban comes across as a stark, raving bonkers – he is sinister, creepy and sleazy. Little touches like the slithering tongue or the ‘poof’ further confirm RGV’s colossal errors of judgement in the movie.

I don’t know what forced him to remake Sholay without any fresh ideas – the darkness (as communicated in the preview) is all pervasive, gets to you. I think I’m going to not watch any more RGV movies as he’s completely lost it. Cant think of a worse way to have spent Sunday afternoon. I want my money back !

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Aag (the preview)

I haven’t seen Aag yet, will be doing so tomorrow. And I assume everyone who’s reading this has seen Sholay or at least knows the story.

I’m one of the biggest fans of Sholay- not the biggest, I know a couple of people who’re crazier about it – but crazy enough to stop channel surfing if I see it somewhere on TV despite having seen it 50+ times

I’m also not one of those who think it shouldn’t be remade – I think a fresh interpretation can always be interesting, and Don is a good example of how a classic could still be re-invigorated.

However, having seen the trailers / promo’s, I feel there are some fundamental errors RamGopal Verma has made. I will of course, confirm this once I see it tomorrow but here goes

1.The Cast : Why would you choose newcomers to play arguably amongst the meatiest / most high profile roles in Hindi cinema ? Compare the talent on offer in Sholay, which starred already established, great actors like Amitabh, Dharmendra, Jaya, Hema, Asrani etc vs Ajay Devgan, Nisha Kothari, Prashant who ?
2. The characters : The true beauty of Sholay was that every character was unique and made their mark – whether they appeared for 5 minutes or 50, they were all unforgettable. Surma Bhopali, the Angrezon ke zamaney ka jailor, the old servant in thakur’s house, AK Hangal in the village, Kaalia / Samba, Jaya’s character…I can go on and I haven’t even mentioned the main stars yet…they were all endearing, appealing and made an indelible mark in our memory. Based on the trailors, the sheer commercial nature of the project as evinced by the hype & PR around it, I feel Aag is going to focus only on the main actors and make caricatures / a mockery of the others. For me, this would rob the movie of its soul.
3. The music : not a patch on the earlier soundtrack, no further comment needed
4. The darkness : Every promo / poster I’ve seen of this one is very dark, very indoors. One of the amazing things about Sholay was that it showed menace and intimidation amongst bright, sunny, and very picturesque settings.
5. Regionalism : Just based on how the guys talk etc, I feel he has made the characters very tapori / mumbaiya, rather than kept it free of regional bias as in the original – Sholay / Ramgad could have been anywhere – Maharashtra / MP / UP…

If it truly suffers from the above flaws (and I will know for sure by tomorrow afternoon), then RGV has copied a classic without understanding what made the orginial tick in the first place !