Friday, September 25, 2015

The Intern

Rating : 7/10
Release Date : 25th September, 2015
Time : 121 minutes
Director, Writer : Nancy Meyers; Music : Theodore Shapiro
Starring : Robert De Niro, Anne Hathaway, Rene Russo, Anders Holm, JoJo Kushner, Andrew Rannellls, Adam DeVine, Zack Pearlman, Jason Orley, Christina Scherer

Do we tend to write people off when they are retired ? Are women, who’re heading major companies, treated differently by society versus men ?

This is about a senior citizen, Robert De Niro, at the spry age of 70, taking up a job as an intern in an ecommerce clothing company, and getting assigned to work with Anne Hathaway, who founded and runs the company.

The reason why this is happening, the company is hiring senior citizens (they hire 2 other senior interns) aren’t totally clear but the video that Robert makes, outlining his reasons for wanting to join, makes for compelling viewing.

Anne is also a bit over her head, trying to manage the rapid growth over the past two years, making sure the company stays on track especially with the VCs pushing for more experienced management. She has a notoriously short attention span (her meetings are slotted by her assistant, Christina, for 3 minutes or 5 and the really long ones last 15) and is also trying to manage her work-life balance with her very cute daughter, JoJo, and stay-at-home husband, Anders.

The office has an interesting mix of people – Andrew, Adam, Jason among others – and Zack is the normal intern ie of normal age. Rene Russo is the office masseuse (something like that could get me back to corporate life) and definitely gets Robert’s attention in more ways than one.

In such a scenario, Robert, who’s worked over 40 years before retiring, with his suit / tie / calculator / vintage briefcase, has to figure out ways to be useful and get the attention of his harum-scarum boss…

What I found fascinating is that despite a) Nothing major happening over the course of the film b) Or him He doing anything extraordinary (doesn’t turn into an all kowing superman, yet via conversations, normal day-to-day situations (a driver who plays hooky, a father who falls sick) we experience what it’s like to interact with seniors – their values, thoughts (some old-fashioned), way of working.

It makes us question whether we as a society really do tap into the vast knowledge bank of our retirees, whether we could use them more fruitfully rather than writing them off, being dismissive. Also, looking at Anne’s rise and her family situation, it raises questions re the glass ceiling, how supportive we are of full-time working moms. And as the snide remarks of the school moms, illustrate, whether we’re really ready for the stay-at-home dad scenario ?

I’m not sure I agree with all that was shown – Anne’s need for a father figure was perhaps a bit too convenient, Robert’s rise in her eyes a bit too rapid and by giving her certain frailities (tears, needing company on a business trip to San Francisco) we perhaps are only reinforcing some stereotypes about women at work. But overall, aided by a peppy soundtrack and snappy dialogue, it’s a hugely enjoyable watch.

Bhaag Johnny

Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 25th September, 2015
Time : 117 minutes
Director, Co-Writer : Shivam Nair; Writer: Vikram Bhatt; Music : Various
Starring : Kunal Khemu, Zoa Morani, Manasi Scott, Mandana Karimi

Imagine the Sliding Doors principle being offered to you just when you had your balls in a vice and were being forced to do something nasty, against your will ? Kunal Khemu’s boss, Manasi, has evidence of him doing insider training and will go to the cops, unless he first befriends, and then kills Zoa. He, luckily (thanks to his mom) is given an option – lead one life assuming you did kill her and another assuming you didn’t (*T&C apply)…

Moans and Groans
The first groan escaped my lips when I realized it was ‘Tantrik’ knowledge that led to the offer being made, complete with a wooden yet creepy Vikram Bhatt as a genie (Why?)

Also, deviating fundamentally from the principle, the scenarios do not play out identically – for example, there are guards waiting outside in one and not in another

Fundamentally, the makers had two options – either make the film realistic or to go down the logic be damned route. Unfortunately, they chose the latter but that only works when you have major star power in the film (Salman Khan, James Bond). So we see a wanted, hunted man spending time in fancy resorts, ordering pizzas, romancing women, suddenly becoming an action hero, facing cops who dont shoot and never shoot straight in any case etc.

The dialogues, especially the pick up lines (what was the door thing about ?) go from very ordinary to really bad – can’t believe any woman would find those schmaltzy lines interesting

Songs. Too many, too tuneless and very ill-timed. This is one of those films where the hero has to be introduced with an item number to show how cool he is and then will have one of those soft, romantic, Atif Aslam type numbers to show he is in love…

Likes and Spikes
Kunal, Manasi and Zoa turn in good performances. Kunal has moments where he displays good timing, facial expressions etc, Zoa is quite assured for most parts and Manasi is extremely believable as super-bitch.

In films like this it’s important to be able to put yourself in the shoes of the protagonist. Which is why, by choosing to be filmy and give rationality a miss, the makers have done this genre and their premise a disservice. I’m probably being generous by going with 5/10 – but it’s better than Katti Batti (which was a 4) and at least someone is trying something different – even if I don’t agree with the way it was executed…

Friday, September 18, 2015

Katti Batti

Rating : 4/10
Release Date : 18th September, 2015
Time : 138 minutes
Director, Co-Writer : Nikhil Advani; Co-Writer: Anshul Singhal; Music : Shankar Ehsaan Loy
Starring : Imran Khan, Kangana Ranaut, Abhishek Saha, Vivan Bhatena

You know he’s nerdy because he wears specs. You know she’s cool and hip because she paints, has tattoos, wears really short shorts and carries Rs 20 notes in her bag with her phone number written on them… He takes but an instant to fall in love and wants a deep, committed relationship while she wants something time pass, as she hasn’t checked out the ‘merchandise’ in their college yet. And with a start like that, isn’t heartbreak inevitable ? Booze (lots of it), a suicide attempt (featuring a bottle of phenyl that looks like a beer bottle), fights and a rebound one night stand follows, but will they lead to true love finding a way ?

And then, just when you thought it was going to end, is a big twist – something so incomprehensible, so ludicrous, it made the movie fall and fail…

What works are the moments of zaniness (only a few, like when he’s examining toilets, the parents visit to the campus or the opening credits), a decent soundtrack (despite being over-populated with songs), a good supporting cast (especially Abhishek and Vivan) and superb sets / visuals. What falls flat are the repeated, almost desperate attempts to be really cool, quirky (the impossibly overwrought boss, the band at the end), the irritating sister, the stretched heartbreak with the ‘I will forget her’ alternating with ‘I will get her back’ portions and the overall silliness of the plot.

What also doesn’t work is the lead pair – neither is able to truly bring credibility to their characters. Imran is completely unconvincing as the love-sick lover – he doesn’t look like the type who would go to pieces if his girl left him – and he tries too hard to emote. Kangana’s struggle is more with her character, which being flawed doesn’t leave her much scope. And she’s also done the wild chick a bit too often, so the novelty has worn off.

What we get is a terrible, confused, mess of a story, almost as if the makers didn’t know whether to make us laugh or to cry and then fall flat trying to make us do both. The characters are stereotypical, make us feel nothing for them and the ending is a desperate attempt to wring some emotions from us. Though it only made me cringe and hold my head in my hands, while laughing hollowly…

Friday, September 11, 2015


Rating : 5/10
Release Date : 11th September, 2015
Time : 131 minutes
Director, Co-Writer : Nikhil Advani; Co-Writer: Umesh Bist based on the original ’83 movie by Subhash Ghai; Music : Various
Starring : Sooraj Pancholi, Athiya Shetty, Aditya Pancholi, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Sharad Kelkar, Kishor Kadam, Chetan Hansraj, Vivan Bhatena

Disclaimer : I haven’t seen the original 1983 film by Subhash Ghai (Wiki link here), so that lets me out of any pesky comparisons

A goonda (with a heart of gold, obviously) falls in love with a top cop's daughter (spoilt SoBo types) while he has kidnapped her at his godfather’s behest…

What Nikhil Advani and Umesh Bist (Director-writer and writer resp.) then do is figure out the most convoluted, tortuous way to try and get the lovers (and their folks) to unite… they add unnecessary characters, twist plot lines, prolong the movie and also defy logic, gravity, space-time continuum etc in their holy quest.

Sample some of the senseless stuff
- The godfather, Aditya Pancholi, is never seen without his lawyer. Even in jail, in his cell. Didn’t know you could invite a roomie…
- Kidnapping an IG’s daughter should be no mean feat. However, here it happens peacefully. Twice. No casing the joint, observing her movements, or watching her security detail necessary. Not even so much as looking at your potential victims photo beforehand as Sooraj is surprised when he sees her (having had a run in with her at a club sometime ago)
- If you kidnapped her from Mumbai, in a car, dressed as cops, where would you go ? Jammu, obviously. Isnt it next door ? Arre – it’s so picturesque to show the young couple romancing in the snow !!
- Tigmanshu Dhulia, the IG, has to be the worst cop possible. Not only does he let his daughter get kidnapped, twice, he also lets Aditya Pancholi escape from custody. And then does nothing whatsoever to track him down. Obviously more worried about what people will say about his daughter cavorting around with aaj ka Gen Y goonda… On receiving a match for beloved daughter, he also falls head over heels for the same (Call me Dad) without doing any sort of reference check whatsoever
- I loved the gym Sooraj sets up – really fancy. Would love even more to meet whoever lent him the money to make it…also whichever institute did Athiya’s show (and allowed a novice to join in) ?
- Why was Vivan Bhatena needed in the film ? For that matter, why was Paris ?

Am not even touching on 20 other points that come to mind (how did she know when he was being released, didn’t the bike wash away in Jammu , how come the bomb blast laid twenty cops low twenty feet away but Aditya Pancholi is unharmed five feet away ?) just focused on the big ones above...

Also, the acting skills of Tigmanshu and Aditya were quite gloriously wasted. I really wish instead of wasting time on songs (too many, too ordinary) and devising new ways to stretch the plot, the makers had spent a bit more time building on the characters of the lead pair, showing us what they were about, why they fall in love etc. The two star kids actually look good, have good screen presence for their debut film and will get better with time. Unfortunately we don't really get to know them at all we are only dealt cliches. Just wish they’d got a better platform, script-wise, to showcase their talents