Saturday, March 06, 2010

Athithi : Tum Kab Jaoge

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 5th Mar, 2010
Time : 150 minutes
Director & Writer : Ashwn Dheer; Music : Pritam
Starring : Ajay Devgn, Konkona Sen Sharma, Paresh Rawal

This is a one joke movie and like any joke, the laughs start to wear thin after a while and when the joke is repeated too often. There are some nice moments, some genuinely funny stuff, but too little and too far apart.

Ajay Devgn and Konkona have never had guests of the staying variety at their home. Their son doesn’t even know what guest means. Into their life walks in Paresh Rawal. The relationship between him and Ajay is distant at best, but he walks in and turns their life upside down. Koko and Ajay have to move out of their room so that he can have the AC, he wakes them up by gargling loudly early morning, he insists on full meals, cooked by her (and only after she has a bath), he farts copiously, causes problems in Ajay’s work, ruins the relationship between Koko’s boss and her. In short he’s their worst nightmare. What will happen next ?

The film never really builds momentum of any sort, going sentimental at times and comic at others. The same jokes are repeated ad nauseum. It just never really rises above mediocrity.

What I did like was the small part about culture, the relationship shown between Paresh and the kid, where Paresh imparts to him some knowledge about our scriptures, deities, heritage, rituals etc. In todays nuclear family age, our culture is probably the biggest casualty and kids don’t get enough of their grandparents and vice versa. I wish there was more of this in the film.

There are some funny moments – Paresh’s aarti is set to a v familiar non-devotional tune, his way of tipping people, the conversation between the police officer and Ajay / Koko about guests were all enjoyable but not enough to sustain a two and a half hour film.

They were trying to sell the film as being Hrishikesh Mukherjee-esque. Nice try but no cigar….

It's Complicated

Rating : 8/10
Release Date : Dec, 2009
Time : 120 minutes
Director & Writer : Nancy Meyers; Music : Heitor Pereira, Hans Zimmer
Starring : Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, Steve Martin, John Krasinski, Lake Bell, Mary Kay Place, Rita Wilson, Alexandra Wentworth, Hunter Parish

It’s a tribute to a very tight script, wonderfully built characters and some very funny touches that make this bittersweet film about the angst of divorce and reunification, a true treat to watch.

Ten years after their divorce, both Meryl Streep and Alex Baldwin find themselves confronted by the prospect of getting together again. Alex is currently married to a Spanish hottie, several years younger than him, complete with a five year old son from her previous life. And Meryl has now grown comfortable with the idea of being single, and is devoted to her three kids, all grown up, with one graduating and another about to get married.

So, as the title suggests, when after many goblets of wine later, they meet and chat and then proceed to sleep together, it sparks a chain of events that are hilarious, real and sweet all at the same time.

Alec Baldwin is shown to be a nice, bumbling, enthusiastic, error prone guy. He’s got a zest for life, for the good things in life and above all a great sex drive for a man his age. Meryl Streep, is now running a successful enterprise, is a great cook, has good friends, manages her kids well and is finally settling in. Even doing some long overdue renovations to her house and getting the kitchen she always wanted. And the architect for the kitchen is Steve Martin, who’s himself divorced, still recovering, and seems to anticipate Meryl’s every architectural need very well. The kids have their own issues, they’re still adjusting to the divorce, their own lives and like most divorced kids would be really happy if their parents got together again. The eldest daughter is about to get married in fact, to John Krasinksi and there are some hilarious situations he is put through as well.

I think the crowning glory of the movie is the scene involving a skype conversation between Steve and Meryl. It was hysterical. Most of the dialogue carries a delicious double entendre ‘I’m married to a five year old and Pedro’ from Alec Baldwin. Or ‘I have an ex with benefits’ from Meryl. Or ‘Fun is not overrated’ from I forget whom. There is a sequence surrounding hash which was brilliant. There are no bad guys, no squirmy situations Its all so naturally, so engagingly done, you forget you’re in a movie.

Meryl continues to amaze me – she fits into each of her roles so convincingly, its hard to imagine her as anyone else. In Julie & Julia she was this eccentric cook. Here, slightly giddy, slightly fun, slightly prone to self-doubt, with her hair all golden and loose around her shoulders, its easy to forget she’s 60 or thereabouts.
Alec makes you love him even though you know he’s cheating. Its his joie de vivre, his ‘I love life’ attitude which is infectious. Steve Martin for a change is understated, no over the top antics a la Pink Panther or Father of the Bride but a person who is still tender from his divorce of over two years, listening to car self-help tapes about breaking up and not entirely sure where he’s going in his personal life.

Beautiful people, beautiful music, beautiful settings, biting dialogue. Really, what more can you ask for ?

Teen Patti

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 26th Feb, 2010
Time : 142 minutes
Director : Leena Yadav; Writer : Shivkumar Subramaniam & Leena Yadav; Music : Salim Merchant
Starring : Amitabh Bachchan, Madhavan, Ben Kingsley, Dhruv Ganesh, Shraddha Kapoor, Siddharth Kher, Vaibhav Talwar

The film is about a mathematics professor (Amitabh), who realises he can predict the winner in teen patti, based on his theory of probability. He strings together an assistant prof, some students and soon they start playing for real, in all sorts of seedy joints, with all sorts of shady type guys (Ajay Devgn, Jackie Shroff, Mahesh Manjrekar, Tinnu Anand etc). However, everything isn’t rosy and someone begins to blackmail them. How things progress is the rest of the movie.

Someone here got very excited by Indianizing ‘21’ (an ordinary film in itself, BTW) and roping in Amitabh Bachcahn & Ben Kingsley, so much so that they forgot about the basics.

Blackjack can be played by counting cards / applying rules of probability. Teen Patti or Flash cannot. Full stop. Can explain at length in the comments section if anyone so desires – it has to do with visibility of your opponents cards, shuffling etc.

The rationale for playing in seedy joints and not on the internet, which is where it started for Amitabh, is never understood or explained.

They also forgot to build the characters. We didn’t really care for anyone and all I know after watching them for 140 minutes are one word descriptions. There was one guy who was nervy type, another who was highly strung, the asst prof who was greedy and a female character who was, well, just silly. Even Amitabh’s character is not fully understood – whats he like, whats he up to, why is explained only partially.

The songs are awful with the exception of ‘Niyat’ and my appreciation of this one is not driven by the music alone.

All the hype, the clever marketing (they did a really good job here) cannot mask a soul-less, plot-less film with a farcical ending and a lot of wasted talent. One to avoid.