Friday, April 25, 2014

Revolver Rani

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 25th April, 2014
Time : 132 minutes
Director & Writer : Sai Kabir; Music : Sanjeev Srivastava
Starring : Kangana Ranaut, Piysuh Mishra, Vir Das, Zakir Hussain, Zeishan Quadri, Preeti Sood

This is essentially Shoot ‘Em Up set in Chambal with a trigger happy woman politician, its amusing for the first half (kind of) but then drags so drearily that you wish she would shoot her enemies or, worst case, you so that you could be done with it.

Ram ram, saban ney ram ram, subah ki ram ram nagad, shaam ki ram ram advance

She, Kangana Ranaut, is over the top, bad-ass, willing to walk into her opposition’s rally and unload a few, cuss with freedom, and aided and abetted by her Mama (Piyush Mishra), wants to wreak havoc on Zakir Hussain and his cohorts. The only time she is soft is when she is with her lover boy, Vir Das, wearing her lingerie imported from Italy, dreaming of Venice, while he dreams of her financing his Bollywood career

Mudai lakh bura chahe toh kya hota hai wahi hota hai jo manjure Alka hota hai

The shoot-outs, the UP accent, the cuss-words, the cut and counter thrust, the ordering for the kartoos ki ladi and then when denied that, changing swiftly to whiskey with ice, the slogan shouting and the outlandish costumes are fun, amusing, with a sensational opening title sequence kicking things of in grand style. There are peaceful moments spent in reflection in rose petal-ed bathtubs and its funny to see Vir get one with water, Kangana one with milk and the villain a plunge pool where he carouses around on a floater.

Kadak nath murga khaya karo sab kuch kadak rahega

But then things get murky, sinister (not clear why), the pace drops, things get repetitive and soon you’re reduced to screaming expletives at the screen for them to get a move-on

Aaj sey tumhara naam Chumchum, aur iska kacchu logic nai

I wonder what the makers were on when they conceived this one, made it and edited it. I wonder what the star cast thought of the finished product. Not much, I think, which is why they were conspicuously absent during promotions / press interviews. In which case, I agree with them.

Samrat & Co

Rating : 3/10
Release Date : 25th April, 2014
Time : 125 minutes
Director & Writer : Kaushik Ghatak; Co-Writer : Manish Shrivastav; Music : Ankit Tiwari, Mithoon
Starring : Rajeev Khandelwal, Gopal Datt, Madalsa Sharma, Girish Karnad, Priyanshu Chatterjee, Sujata Sanghmitra, Shreya Narayan, Indraneil Sengupta, Bhaumik Sampat, Rajniesh Duggall, Barkha Bisht

Take a Sherlock Holmes-esque detective trying to solve a convoluted murder mystery. Now, in a botched attempt to Indianize the plot, add an item number, silly comic relief, a love angle, the supernatural, ghosts being called to speak, really bad and very unnecessary songs, a spiritual baba, a ridiculous fight sequence, some amateurish performances and voila, you have a film that is so badly written, it kind of implodes and self-destructs

Rajeev Khandelwal tries to play a super-cool detective, who, called by PYT (Madalsa) to solve the case of her withering garden and wilting father’s health, sets off immediately, with his Watson (Gopal Datt) in tow. The father, Girish Karnad, is soon murdered and in true filmy story style, any one of about a dozen people could’ve done it.

Overall, the acting, including by the leading man, is below par, quite labored and in some places, downright amateurish. Rajeev, especially, looks completely implausible in the action scenes. There are too many plot twists, too many side-tracks, too many songs and too many characters for the film to hold you in its grip. Copying a trick / a cinematic device directly from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes was in bad taste and helped put me off right in the beginning. The fight sequence at the end probably took the cake as far as ridiculousness is concerned, though there are several other moments which could give it a close run, including an uncrack-able code that shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes to decipher and the grand finale, which is about thirty years too late, as far as being different goes

Its been a while since there was a good Hindi detective story. This was a sad, ham-handed, out of synch with the times attempt at one.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

2 States

Rating : 6/10
Release Date : 18th April, 2014
Time : 149 minutes
Director & Writer : Abhishek Varman (based on the novel by Chetan Bhagat); Music : Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Starring : Arjun Kapoor, Alia Bhatt, Amrita Singh, Ronit Roy, Revathi, Shivkumar Subramaniam

Someone decided to take a light, humorous, fictionalized account of cross cultural marriage and make a masala film out of it. Thus reducing its IQ level even further. Reducing most of the characters to caricatures. Adding in several songs, co-ordinated dance moves and fancy outfits. The lead pair, though, look good and are peppy. And the film has its funny moments and fair share of one liners, giving us a light, frothy, very predictable one time watch

They (Arjun & Alia) both meet in IIM-A and slowly but surely fall in love. A few songs and some steamy scenes, kisses later, its time for them to involve their parents. And that’s when the predictable North-South divide comes in. Arjun has to woo Alia’s very dour, staid folks (Revathi and Shivkumar) while she has to patao his dowry & ‘hum ladke wale hain’ obsessed, gauche mother (Amrita Singh) and also try to figure out where the land lies in his frosty, awkward relationship with his dad, Ronit. And then they have to get their respective parents to like each other…

The book is usually better than the movie and so is the case here (Disclaimer : I found the book really funny, probably Chetan’s best and had even met him a few times for the movie rights). The leads were good fun, both seemed to enjoy themselves in their roles, displayed some witty repartee and exude charm, though Alia’s South Indian roots were not really visible apart from a couple of gajra’s and one dance performance. Also, without the explanations behind the characters, the parents say things to each other which don’t seem natural, getting too petty, stereotypical too quickly. The second half drags and while the songs are fine as an album, in the movie it made most people just reach for their mobile phones.

Its not bad, enough peppiness and laughs (The Duke and Minty wedding entrance, Arjun's turn as a gawky, MCP-ish nerd in the beginning and Alia's response to that) to keep you going but if the central theme, as in the book, was to show how Indian marriages are not just about a couple getting together but also the respective families, I felt it was a job half done.

(Disclaimer 2 : Being from IIM-A and also having just been to campus a few months ago, somehow didn’t like seeing our alma mater in the shoot. Didn’t expect this reaction from self but it almost seemed like an invasion of privacy watching our hallowed grounds, awe-inspiring plaza and beautiful arches cheapened by Hindi film songs, especially with wording like Locha-E-Ulfat)


Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 18th April, 2014
Time : 119 minutes
Director : Wally Pfister; Writer : Jack Paglen; Music : Mychael Danna
Starring : Johnny Depp, Rebecca Hall, Morgan Freeman, Paul Bettany, Cillian Murphy, Kate Mara, Clifton Collins Jr, Josh Stewart

This film takes thoughts seeded by predecessors like Terminator series, iRobot and even the recent ‘Her’ to a logical next level…what happens if we let a self-aware artificial intelligence with an almost human consciousness loose on our planet ? What will the AI do ? And equally important, how will we humans react ?

Johnny Depp, a celebrity scientist, has been trying to build one such AI, with the help of his wife, Rebecca and in co-operation with a couple of eminent personalities, Paul Bettany and Morgan Freeman amongst them. Even the government, represented by an FBI agent Cillian Murphy is impressed and keeping tabs on the developments. But there are a group of very tech savvy radicals, led by Kate Mara (nice to see her outside House of Cards) who see it as the beginning of a very slippery slope and are determined to stop him and it by any means. They attempt to assassinate Depp. And then their worst nightmares come true…

The film is very (and quite unnecessarily) slow paced. There are a million logical inconsistencies, which I’m sure will be obvious to any watcher. But it does raise some fascinating questions – and shows, at least in a couple of realms, what could be possible by such an AI – especially using nano-technology. There are also some lovely visuals – rain against the windshield reflecting light, a monstrous array of solar panels in the desert, pristine white corridors, sunflowers blooming, droplets of water falling and spreading…all accompanied by a great music score…

I felt Johnny Depp, with his limited screen presence, looked out of place in this role. It didn’t really need him. Rebecca and Paul Bettany really caught the eye with excellent performances, with Kate doing it more with her shocking bleached blond locks.

I find such films fascinating…trying to take the questions raised to their logical conclusion. Am reminded often of the line in Matrix, which points out that the human race is actually the real virus afflicting out planet. And the more such films I watch, the more I observe around me, the more I find its true…