Saturday, November 26, 2011

Desi Boyz

Rating : See Below
Release Date : 25th November, 2011
Time : 125 minutes
Director & Writer : Rohit Dhawan; Music : Pritam
Starring : Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Chitrangdha, Sanjay Dutt, Anupam Kher, Master Veeraj Desai, Omi Vaidya

I’m going to give 5 points just for Chitrangdha. Another 5 for a decent storyline and the crisp one liners which manage to stay on the opposite side of mindlessness, crudity and vulgarity (for a change). Then I’m going to deduct 2 points for making it unnecessarily emotional in parts and another 1 for bringing on Chitrangdha only in the second half.

Recession, a demanding girlfriend with expensive tastes and a fight to retain guardianship of his dead sister’s child force John and Akshay, friends since college and current room mates, to take the extreme step of becoming male escorts for the Desi Boyz service. However, soon the girlfriend (Deepika) and the childs social care worker find out about their ignoble profession and eject John & Akshay from their lives. The second half outlines what happens next…

Interesting cameos further light up the screen space. Sanjay Dutt is great as the larger than life, Crocodile Dundee style, boss of Desi Boyz. Anupam Kher brings that little extra zing to the role of Deepika’s father. Satish Kaushik plays a part in the exact replication of an old and very funny western ad. Omi Vaidya displays his comic talents. And even the mom, in only for the briefest of scenes, manages to make an impression.

The true stars though are the script, which manages to keep it loosely plausible and coherent, and the dialogue, which manages to be goofy without insulting anyone’s sensibilities.

Deepika, Chitrangdha, John manage to bring the right amount of seriousness and craziness in their roles, but after a long time, Akshay gets his balance right, delivering his lines with the élan he was once known for

I went in expecting the worst and was pleasantly surprised. I still think the emotional parts could’ve been reduced, the songs executed better (lyrics & voices), the movie made crisper. But overall, it manages to entertain without irritating. And maybe my standards have lowered but that’s worth the price of a ticket…

Twilight : Breaking Dawn Part 1

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 25th November, 2011
Time : 117 minutes
Director : Bill Condon; Writers : Melissa Rosenberg, Stephenie Meyer; Music : Carter Burwell
Starring : Kirsten Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner

This is a fifteen minute storyline stretched out unbearably to almost two hours. Its the first film I’ve seen of this series, had seen a 5 minute clip of one of the previous ones, but even that was more exciting than what happened here

The entire movie seems to be happening in slow motion. The actors (cant even say people) look perpetually worried, scowling either at each other or just generally moping around. Smiles are rare even though there is a wedding and a prolonged honeymoon and an even more prolonged pregnancy. There is the promise of action but it never materialises.

I cant say more for fear of giving the story away but there was barely enough material for a 30 minute Tv episode here and instead a full-blown movie was forced upon us. Some nice locales are the only relief in this otherwise extremely dull movie.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 11th November, 2011
Time : 155 minutes
Director : Imtiaz Ali; Writers : Imtiaz Ali, M Beg; Music : A R Rahman
Starring : Ranbir Kapoor, Nargis Fakhri, Aditi Rao, Piyush Mishra, Kumud Mishra, Shernaz Patel, Shammi Kapoor

Despite its length, numerous logical and other flaws, what kept me hooked was the scintillating music, Ranbir’s performance and the crazy, goofy, improbable love between the ‘hi fi', 'neat & clean’ Nargis Fakhri and the Jat boy from Pitampura who wants to be a musician

The love begins as an unlikely friendship. She is the poster girl of the college, coveted by all in a very physical sense. He is more often than not the butt of jokes, spends most of his time in the canteen. However, the soon-to-be-married Nargis strikes a deal with this cartoonish lad to fulfil a few of her baser desires (no, its not what you think). Ranbir goes along for the ride. And we find through the movie that the ride never quite stops….

Ranbir’s growth as a musician juxtaposes with the different emotions he goes through. Expulsion and numerous thrashings by his family. Life as an unwanted wasterel in a dargah. Separation from Nargis. A trip to Prague, where she is now settled after marriage. Meeting her again. Then again. And his rising star in the music world, along with the growing sense of being incomplete without her.

Its hard to imagine any other actor of the younger lot being able to carry this role out. Ranbir manages to look good in just about anything (though full credit to Aki Narula for his threads). His locks & looks change length and character as frequently as he is forced to. From the bumbling, innocent kid to the friend for life to the castaway wastrel to the assured musician to the angry young man who has it all. From looking goofy to innocent to angry to cool, sometimes in a matter of minutes. I also liked the realism of the Delhi University setting, the terms used (palangtod, jannat hai yahan etc), the different characters, the foggy mornings and the idea of college being a place more for extra curriculars than for studies (I think we saw the inside of a classroom for all of 2 seconds).

And rising above all this, almost linking it together is AR Rahman’s near mystical music, haunting, enthralling, with a life of its own. From the divine ‘Kun Faaya Kun’ to the angst driven ‘Naadan Parindey’ to the self doubting ‘Jo Bhi Main’ to the funny ‘Katiya Kahun’ to the rousing, angry, anthem like ‘Sadda Haq’. Excellent lyrics by Irshad Kamil. And kudos to Imtiaz / ARR for keeping Mohit Chauhan’s voice constant for Ranbir. It helps build the character, make it more real.

It did get repetitive towards the end. You wished the two would make up their mind. The illness angle was possibly not desired, though I loved the stupidly romantic notion of a relationship where you feel so incomplete without the other that you fall physically sick and all the wealth / fame in the world doesnt seem enough. You wished it was edited better, a few jerks & jumps and also the length, with the film seeming longer than its actual running time. All the fun moments are concentrated in the first half, with the second mostly running on raw music & emotion.

It worked for me. I didnt want to miss a single frame, or its stunning locales, or the expressions or the musical notes (listen to the shehnai piece, in the background in the movie, from the CD, its just amazing). It works partly because its Ranbir. But sure its not for everyone.

Friday, November 11, 2011


Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 11th November, 2011
Time : 110 minutes
Director : Tarsem Dhandwar Singh; Writers :Charley & Vlas Parlapanides, Vlas; Music : Trevor Morris
Starring : Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Isabel Lucas, Joseph Morgan, Greg Bryk, Daniel Sharman

I’m biased because of I’m a huge fan of Greek mythology (grew up identifying with the Illiad as closely as the Mahabharat) and also of the visual delights that Tarsem has consistently offered in all his films. That said, apart from a few breathtaking sequences and the overall storyline, the movie does disappoint in its details, leaving not much to take away home.

The movie is as much about a battle between humans, with Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) & his savage army battling Theseus (Henry Cavill), the peasant and his small band of followers as it is between humans and the Gods. Both Theseus and Hyperion have reasons to hate the Gods, or not believe in them. Add to this a virgin oracle, Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and her disturbing visions, the dilemma of Zeus (Luke Evans) on whether to interfere or not, the Epirus bow, which is the only way to awaken the Titans and then defeat the Gods and we have all the ingredients for a rip roaring adventure.

While this story works at a macro level, where it fails is the details, unable to provide enough intrigue or suspense in every frame to be able to sustain interest, beyond the overall story. We also don’t relate to the characters, neither Theseus or Hyperion, engaging us enough to really care what happens to them. However, what does work, beyond doubt are the stunningly choreographed fight sequences and the equally stunning backdrops, visual imagery which is Tarsem’s forte.

I haven’t seen 300 but this seems to be on similar lines, valour, honour, rousing speeches and one finely sculpted torso decapitating another in bloody battle. At the end, all that remains as you walk out is one fight sequence after another, with all its goriness and grittiness highlighted in 3D. But surely with a backdrop as rich as Greek mythology and visuals as stunning as Tarsem’s, there should have been more in terms of the characters and storyline that stayed with you as you walked out of the hall.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Tintin : The Secret of the Unicorn

Rating : 9/10
Release Date : 11th November, 2011
Time : 107 minutes
Director : Steven Spielberg; Writers : Steven Moffat, Edgar Wright, Joe Cornish, based on the comic series by Herge; Music : John Williams
Starring : (voices of) : Jamie Bell, Andy Serkis, Daniel Craig, Simon Pegg, Kim Stengel

The movie has plenty of ‘blistering barnacles’ and ‘thundering typhoons’ while setting a blistering pace from frame one and thundering its way to an exciting climax. Plenty of snappy one liners, goofy moments, an intriguing plot, great animation and some fantastic moments with Snowy and Cap’n Haddock ensure that this is the adventure movie of the year.

Tintin buys a model ship, ‘The Unicorn’, from a street vendor. Almost as soon as he has handed over the money, two different people walk up and try to buy it from him. Tintin being Tintin, refuses the generous offers, takes it home, then goes to a library to try and figure out the ships history. When he returns, the model ship is gone, stolen from his home. Add to this a man who dies on his doorstep, a gloved pickpocket, the irrepressible Thompson twins, a never found sunken treasure and the ominous Marlinspike hall and you have a perfect setting for the adventure that follows.

A few things struck me about the film. Despite being an animation, it was real almost to the point where I was giving the lead characters points for performance. The camera angles were brilliant, really innovative, again belying the fact that this was an animation. The film is crisply edited, doesn’t stray from its narrative for even an instant, so there is no back story (who is Tintin is sorted out in a few frames on his wall), there are no parents, and almost blasphemously for our films, there is no romantic angle (in fact I think there were all of two women for about 2 minutes in the entire film).

Captain Haddock steals the show, as in the comic. You cannot help but love this man, who is soaked in whisky most of the time and is useless when sober, but is up for a fight or adventure anytime. Snowy is almost a hero unto himself, finding clues, sensing danger and bravely coming to the aid of the hero on more than once occasion. And Tintin, well, he is the kind of boy most Indian mom’s would want to get their daughter married to. Sweet, earnest, curious, reputed, risk taking. An adventurer to the core. They don’t make them like him anymore.

As a kid, I’ve not been much of a fan of Tintin, preferring the more bawdy, in-your-face humour of Asterix instead. But this film, despite staying completely true to the comic, manages to infuse new life into the characters, making them more fun, endearing and human at the same time. Cant wait for the next instalment.