Friday, November 30, 2012


Rating : 8/10
Release Date : 30th November, 2012
Time : 140 minutes
Director :Reema Kagti; Writers :Reema Kagti, Zoya Akhtar; Music : Ram Sampath
Starring : Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rani Mukherjee, Shernaz Patel

This is a film as much about coping with a loss as about its main plot, and it unfolds in a slow, steady, leisurely, manner, never letting you escape its foreboding grip and inveigles you with the strength of its characters and their superlative performances.

Aamir, a renowned, upright police officer in Mumbai, is struggling to cope with the loss of his eight year old son in a tragic accident. Other casualties of the loss seem to be his ability to sleep and his relationship with his wife, a brooding, silent Rani. He is assigned a case which seems straightforward yet inexplicable, the death via a car crash of a film star, a case which, as per his juniors, is destined for the ‘A-final’ list of unsolved cases in the city. Its this case, and his hunt for clues which leads him to Mumbai’s red light district and he meets among others, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, the crippled, gossipy go-to man of a pimp and Rosy, one of the top girls of the same pimp.

It’s a treat to watch Aamir, who feels every inch a tortured soul, battling with his own guilt, his own demons and the memories of his son. Unsmiling, silent, taut, body bent, as if braced for another impact, eyes darting from one place to another, usually expressionless. Searching for clues. Tired with life. Unable to live on. He is truly one of the greats of our generation, able to change form despite his superstar status.

The other superlative performance is from Nawazuddin. From the smallish role in Kahaani, to the lead in Gangs of Wasseypur 2 to this role as the man who knows everything, who yearns for a better life and alternates between playing helpless victim of circumstance to the man who is determined to play his own game, complete with his love story.

Kareena is at her bewitching, enticing best. Coquettish, always smiling, she senses Aamir’s pain and wants to help. Perhaps wants something herself too but its never completely clear what and even Aamir struggles to figure her out and despite his best efforts isn’t totally immune to her charm.

Rani, quiet, almost with her own personal cloud of gloom around her, lends her smallish but important role its own dignity. And Shernaz Patel as the nosy and freaky neighbor completes the list of fine performances.

I enjoyed the pace of the film. Its focus, its sticking to its two, often intertwined plotlines and refusal to deviate in any other direction, which included item numbers, lipsynch songs or other moments of comic relief. There is a sense of humour but it chooses to make an appearance in only a few select moments. I enjoyed the atmosphere, the sense of gloom, driven by the tragic happenings of the past and a sense of impending, further loss of life. The music is excellent, totally in keeping with the mood.

Human beings are complex, often beating ourselves up, blaming self when bad things happen, torturing the mind with ‘what if’ scenarios. There are several unfair things that happen, that we struggle to cope with, find fair explanation for. I sometimes feel the biggest fallacy is we try to make everything conform to reason, a strict rationale. While in the world around us there are thousands of inexplicable things that occur on an everyday basis. Life can be strange and perhaps that’s what Aamir’s quest is about…

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Son of Sardaar

Rating : 2/10
Release Date : 13th November, 2012
Time : 140 minutes
Director : Ashwni Dhir; Writers : Ashwni Dhir, Robin Bhat (based on Maryada Ramanna by SS Rajamouli); Music : Himesh Reshammiya
Starring : Ajay Devgn, Sanjay Dutt, Sonakshi Sinha, Juhi Chawla, Tanuja, Mukul Dev, Vindu Dara Singh, Arjan Bajwa

‘How to Stretch a Fifteen minute Plot into a Two Hour film’
‘Invoking Religion in a cheap bid to sell tickets for a movie’
‘Dissertation on the use of cables and wires for Action sequences’
‘Inducing headaches, nausea and giddiness upon hapless audiences in the name of entertainment’

All of the above could work as possibly better, more informative titles for this pathetic, mind-numbing film. Ajay Devgn returns to his village after twenty five years, where family enmity between two clans has run rife for several decades. To avenge one of their family members death, Sanjay Dutt and his entire gang of idiots have been waiting patiently. There is added incentive for Sanjay, as he has vowed not to get married to his beloved Juhi till he has killed Ajay, the sole survivor of the opposing clan. A major hindrance to this blood-letting is their philosophy of treating guests in their home as God (and therefore not killing them), a fact exploited by Ajay. And Sonakshi Sinha, Sanjay Dutt’s niece, who, before you can say ‘Wahe Guru’, has fallen for him for reason or reasons unknown.

There are perhaps two or three laugh worthy jokes in the entire film, all occurring in the first half, with the second half hell bent on inflicting pain on audiences and its characters with complete impartiality. Reports have been coming in that even people who left the hall early to escape from trauma, have been haunted by memories of the film and are having to take urgent psychiatric help. The fact that Juhi and Tanuja accepted their respective roles show how cash can overcome all scruples in the case of the former and that blood is thicker than water in the case of the latter.

I really don’t like noisy crackers but would rather have someone giftwrap me in a 50,000 ki ladi and burst them than watch this Diwali offering again.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 13th November, 2012
Time : 179 minutes
Director : Yash Chopra; Writers : Aditya Chopra, Devika Bhagat; Music : A R Rahman
Starring : Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma

If you’re in the right mood, a kind of mellow, romantic one, caused usually by the love of a good woman or a bottle of wonderful wine, you admire the crazy kind of love that our hero, a very extreme form of one woman man, feels for his beloved. You enjoy the courtship, the funny moments (the right way to pronounce ‘Salmon’, ‘Jesus Sir’), a nice dance sequence, the romanticized view of London, the surprise cameo and the overall performances.

If you’re not in the right frame, you will poke holes (crater sized ones, easy to find) in the plot, you’ll regret the fact that it drags for three hours, you will feel that the second romance was probably unnecessary (perhaps could’ve remained friendship or at best, admiration), will find the characters a bit stereotypical and unidimensional and will have serious issues with the twist before the end (there were definitely easier, more plausible ways to resolve the situation).

Shahrukh is a Major in the Army, working in the bomb disposal squad, based in Jammu / Kashmir/ Ladakh. He likes to dice with death, refuses to wear bomb suits preferring a perpetual frown, keeps to himself and maintains a diary detailing the bombs he has defused (#98 when the film begins). A lissome, cocky young lass, wannabe journalist, Anushka, gets her hands on the diary and finds out what made him like this, his back story. Of his youth in London. And his unrequited, all consuming love for Katrina. Katrina, the rich heiress, who’s led a sheltered life, does a lot of social work, rides around in Rolls Royces, does something in her Dad’s business (unclear what exactly) and, in accordance with her doting father’s wishes, is about to get married to a friend and business associate. And then Shahrukh, a street singer cum waiter cum snow cleaner cum fishmonger, enters her life.

I really enjoyed the courtship (yes, am a sucker for romance), and was cool with the film even after the slightly bizarre way Katrina / SRK parted ways but somehow wasn’t able to deal with the Anushka thread so easily. Little irritants, her addressing SRK as ‘Soldier’ (he was a Major in the army), not respecting rules, romping around in really short shorts with the entire unit, threw me off completely. Possibly am a bit touchy about our men in uniform. Finally, the situation created in the middle of the second half (am struggling to describe it without giving it away), as Anushka pursues her dream of working for Discovery channel, was completely over the top, unnecessary, implausible and unintentionally laughable. The music is good (especially the theme music), some redundant songs (it’s an indulgent kind of a film), they redeem themselves a bit right at the end but there was some damage done.

This is classic Yash Chopra, where you can fall in love with just the rich, beautiful visuals in almost every frame. And vintage SRK. Right from his patented eyebrow raised intense look, to the arms outstretched to his bewildered expression, we’re treated to all the familiar tricks and treats. In his army avatar, he’s more like his ‘Chak De’ avatar, reserving his free spirited, romancing self for his youth in London. Katrina looks beautiful, leggy, pouty and everything you would expect her to be. Am one of those who believe she is a good actress and this movie reinforced that belief. I’m also one of those who believes Anushka is getting typecast as the feisty, brash, sexually aggressive type babe and again, this film did nothing to disprove that. As Shahrukh once asks her in the middle ‘Were you raised on the Kamasutra ?’.

Love. Romance. Longing. There is a certain predictability, which comes with the turf and to Yash Chopra’s credit, he has always tried to push the boundaries, to come up with new situations. So is the case here. Despite its glaring flaws, you can enjoy the film. Just depends on how you choose to view it

The most touching moment occurs after the film ends. Snippets of Yash Chopra directing the movie, his familiar bushy eyebrows and calm, smiling face going about interacting with the cast and crew, walking around London and Ladakh. A huge loss for the industry. Hoping he’s someplace better…

Friday, November 02, 2012

Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 2nd November, 2012
Time : 135 minutes
Director : Sameer Sharma; Writers : Sameer Sharma, Sumit Bhateja; Music : Amit Trivedi
Starring : Kunal Kapoor, Huma Qureshi, Rajesh Sharma, Vinod Nagpal, Rahul Bagga, Vipin Sharma, Rajendra Sethi, Dolly Ahluwalia

An animated discussion about Kunal’s underwear issue, with his bua ji, her brother (Rajesh Sharma), the servant and Kunal’s cousin joining in with their opinions. A lohri party, where the entire Punjabi clan show off their gabroo munda dance moves. Rajesh Sharma letching at a pretty passer-by, calling her Saira Banu and receiving an invective filled reply. A hilarious confessional session, where everyone unburdens their deep dark secrets. Luv Shuv is as much a celebration of Punjab, as a coming of age film.

Kunal, favourite of his grand father, Vinod Nagpal, lives with him and chacha (Rajendra Sethi) and aunt after his parents demise. Hotheaded, given to cheating, lying and looking for the easy way out, he robs his own house and leaves for London. He returns after ten years, deep in debt, hounded by a gangster he owes money to. And discovers everything has changed.

His grandfather, who ran a prosperous dhaba based on his speciality dish(with a secret ingredient), the chicken Khurana, has suffered a memory loss and is perennially ill. His chacha, tried to run the dhaba but was unsuccessful, with a rival, Vipin’s dhaba prospering instead. The chacha’s son, Rahul, runs a small tractor dealership. And is betrothed to Kunal’s childhood sweetheart, the feisty doctor, Huma. There is no money to be stolen from here. And the London gangster is not letting up the pressure.

The makers got Punjab bang on. You can almost smell the chicken, the aroma of the wet earth, the fields and the romance in the air. The language, the curses, the typical terms of endearment and the way of saying them. A soundtrack that effortlessly combines Punjabi lyrics with disco beats. And a cast that does complete justice to their roles, with the possible exception of the leading man.

Kunal is good in the film but not good enough to make you cheer for him or make you fall for him as the lovable ruffian. His delivery and lack of expression lets him down. The proverbial water to Huma’s fire. Also, while the end had its moments, there were elements that got too filmy, a bit of a let down after a scintillating first half.

Rajesh Sharma gets most of the funny lines. Huma sizzles. Everyone hugs everyone. The film entertains, with enough steam to make up for its slightly contrived end. And it leaves you with an almost irresistible urge to bite into a chicken at the end. Wish they hadn’t released it on Karva Chauth…

Thursday, November 01, 2012


Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 1st November, 2012
Time : 141 minutes
Director : Sam Mendes; Writers : Neil Purvis, Robert Wade, John Logan, based on the character created by Ian Fleming; Music : Thomas Newman
Starring : Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Berenice Marlohe, Naomi Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Ben Whishaw, Ola Rapace, Rory Kinnear

I liked Daniel Craig (a lot), Adele’s opening credit theme music (though not necessarily the visuals), Berenice Marlohe (not just for her commendable acting skills) and the visuals / locales (a fight in Shanghai against LED displays, a casino in Macau and a Scottish moor locale staying in the memory). The rest, the plot, the pace of the film, the stunt sequences and even the villain, Javier Bardem (one of my favourite actors), all disappointed.

At first its about a list that has been compromised. A list that shouldn’t have existed in the first place. Which details every NATO agent embedded in every terrorist or mercenary gang across the world. It then moves, for a little bit to the internal battle in Britain, where pompous, pontificating politicians (are there any other kind ?) are determined to see an end to MI6 and its bunch of thugs, chasing enemies, who, in the politicians eyes, just don’t exist anymore. And finally it shifts focus to the person responsible for stealing the list and putting it up on the internet. Bond and M, both, have their hands full right till the end.

You actually have time to fidget in this one. Also, in terms of the action sequences, usually Bond films set the standard for a thousand imitations but there is nothing here we have not seen before. Most memorable Bond villains have designs on planets, satellites, countries or at least unimaginable wealth. Here, Javier, having achieved so much, seems to be obsessed with personal vendetta. And while I accept every secret agent film usually has tank-sized loopholes, this one, especially the ending, is scarcely believable.

Daniel Craig shines through it all, looking every inch the part, adjusting his sleeve as he jumps inside a moving train, complimenting the bartender as she shakes a perfect Martini and suavely handing over a razor blade for an unusually close shave. All this while attempting to clear a medical and thwart the villain (not sure which was tougher).

You feel you can trust Daniel with your life, that he’s human, like one of us, only better, and that’s a rare, raw quality in a Bond, where too often the men have had this Superman-like ability to them. However, the rest of the film doesn’t quite live up to its leading man here.