Archive for June, 2010

FLASHBACK

After Guru released, one morning we woke up to a big shock! Amitabh Bachchan had put a full page ad in all the major national dailies, and had put out all the congratulatory smses that he received for his Beta Bachchan. Private messages meant for him became advertisement! And some of the filmy people of Bollylalaland who send these kind of smses every friday to every filmmaker whose films releases, just to make them happy, were surprised, shocked and embarassed too. They never imagined that it will go to print.

PRESENT

After Raavan has been butchered by critics and its BO fate seems doomed, Beta Bachchan has gone completely silent. Infact he has moved to Football fever! Bet something surely is fishy there because citizens of bollylalaland go on and on and on about their films pre & post-release. Surprisingly, there are no post-release promotional events too!

On the other hand, daddy Amitabh Bachchan is still active on twitter. In reply to Jitesh Pillaai, Editor of FilmUnfare, he has explained why Beera’s Bakbakbak looks so illogical in the film…first the tweets in text form….then the screenshot of the twitter page and a closer look, if you cant read.

@jiteshpillaai Agree, Jitesh ..gather lot of merited film edited out, causing inconsistent performance and narrative,but what presentation !

@jiteshpillaai Yes it was all there, but sadly edited. Abhishek’s erratic behavior was due to symbolic 10 heads visually appearing..contd about 3 hours ago

@jiteshpillaai contd ..and each giving him different attitudes to adopt for a situation, he would then finally shake them off and decide .. about 3 hours ago

@jiteshpillaai ..in the edit all the visual heads got cut and you see a confused Beera expression and wonder why .. it was after he removed about 3 hours ago

@jiteshpillaai .the other head visuals from his thinking.. in the edit you see the after effect of that thinking process, hence inconsistent about 3 hours ago

So, is Mr Sreekar Prasad & Mani Ratnam listening ? As they say, for every successful film, there are million daddies and for every bad one, its a bastard child!

Finally! After juggling boyfriends right, left and centre & how, (some we have witnessed too and thats for another day), Manisha Koirala (41) tied the knot with Samrat Dahal. And its back to her roots! Samrat (34) is also from Nepal. But who is this Samrat ? Click here to read more about him and his family. Check out the pics in the slide show. Wishing her all the best!

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Blame us for connecting the dots, but are we the only one to spot this strange coincidence –  Manisha Koirala gets married, Arvind Swamy getting divorced after sixteen years of marriage and Mani Ratnam is getting butchered by everyone. Aha, life! The trio who gave us that gorgeous Bombay. Those were the days, the days of raging hormones and then Mani gave us that famous “Bombay run” by Koirala! So, here it is…to good ol’ days…

Also, the way Vidhu Vinod Chopra shot her in 1942 – A Love Story, our heart skipped million beats! Its difficult to imagine what all she could have done with her career and what she did! Now, that deserves a lonnnng post. Till then…kuch na kaho

Sigh! Never felt so bad, sad, sleepy and my (single) head spinning at the same time! Blame it on Raavan’s ten heads! But where were they ? Remained all inside Ratnam’s head only.

First a confession – Its not a review. As usual, just some ramblings. Because a movie so bad and that too coming from one of the best filmmakers of our country, am not in my senses yet.

Second confession – Since my nappy days, as long as i remember, have fallen asleep in a movie theatre only thrice. First, it was Haan Maine Bhi Pyaar Kiya Hai. Second time, it was Saawariya and third time, its Raavan. Falling asleep during Ratnam film, its blasphemous! I know, guilty as charged! But do watch the film and then, lets talk.  Anyway, after coming out of the theatre, i quickly called up a friend to figure out what i missed during those precious minutes, and realised that it was a high point of the film’s (poly)graph!

Am still not sure how and where to start. Yeah, credit roll looks superb. And so do, lot of shots. You can take that as a guarantee for any Ratnam film anyway. And this time he teams up with Santosh Sivan. Has to be magic! But how many picture postcards can you stare at ? Plus, there is distraction by Abhishek Bachchan’s growling (reminded me of Anil Kapoor’s irritating dialogue delivery style in Tashan) and Aishwarya Rai’s shrieks and screams in squeaky voice! And poor Vikram (was expecting so so much), he is just the RayBan guy in slo-mo! Even Govinda and Ravi Kishen have more lines than him and are actually best suited for their roles.

You get to see Raavan’s much hyped ten heads only in the credit roll. After that, its only Rahman’s african sounds main-ghumanjalo-aaa -ghumen-jaloooo or whatever it is. The entire first half is only chase sequence. It starts with a bang, grabs you instantly and then drags on and on and on and on till interval. In between, suddenly there is a flashback sequence in Vikram’s voice and it seems he is narrating his own story to himself. (BTW, has anyone still figured out who was narrating Raajneeti’s flashback sequence  and to whom and where he suddenly vanishes! If you know, do enlighten)

Am guessing we all know the basic plot of the film. But the funniest part is the way Raavan falls in love with Sita (or Ragini). Its her free fall from the cliff and he falls in love with her! Never before has “falling in love” being shot so literally.

Have always believed that when it comes to shooting songs in Hindi films, nobody can beat Mani Ratnam. And this time, he proves that theory wrong too. You dont remember a single song after coming out of the theatre. Infact, I was ROFLOL when the romantic number between Vikram & Aishwarya played on screen. He is eating, she is dancing, he is sleeping, she is  dancing, he is staring, she  is dancing, he is having drinks, she is dancing, he wants breakfast, she is dancing and making it, he wants to make love, she is still dancing. And all in weird poses! This is suppose to be the love quotient of Vikram-Aishwaryaaaaaarrrrggggghhhhhh! Give me that Arvind Swamy-Manisha Koirala’s hide & seek dance anyday! A stare here, a peek there – aha, magic!

Coming to Raavan’s politics, this time also Ratnam has played it all safe. The place, setting, language, customs, clothes –  its all vague. Where is Laal Maati ? Who are its native people ? Tribals, villagers, naxalites ? Why is Abhishek Bachchan’s name Beera Munda ? Is it a take on the tribal leader Birsa Munda ? Otherwise, who are these Mundas ?

Post interval, the story moves a little bit taking plot points from Ramayan. Shurpanakha’s naak is pulled and they even try to create a  Bivishan. And then all of a sudden, its dhoom-dhaam-dhadaap and i went to sleep….zzzzzzz. Woke up to realise that Ratnam has proved how Ram can be Raavan and Raavan can be Ram. Blame it on the character (poly)graph in the story. The best joke in the film. And as they say, rest is history.

Feeling much bad for the cast and  crew. Because you can see the rough terrain in which the film has been shot. Add water to  those rough locations, Ratnam-Sivan gets a hard on, making it more strenuous for themselves and everyone else! Its easy to spot that how much effort has gone into it. The bridge scene is one of the best scenes ever shot in a hindi film because its all real location…its takes your breath away. But then, you come back to the BIG picture and it doesn’t make any sense in any way.

Mani Saar – What were you smoking, drinking, doing ? Even if its untrue, please declare it just once that you didn’t direct this film. Put the blame on someone else. Just a fictitious name will also do. Will  feel little better and will be able to sleep peacefully tonight. I still can’t believe its you!

(PS – I can bet that the first half of the film has been made on the edit table. Have confirmed it too. There is not a single scene which makes sense. Its only montages, which jumps from one to another, and looks choppy without making sense of any kind of narrative. )

Thats what Fatema Kagalwala is wondering.

I saw the film recently and came out of the theatre with mixed feelings. Happy, that its doing good at the box office. Sad, that it seems like intelluctual Race. Bus jhatke pe jhatke. Dialogue pe dialogue! Its just a thrill-pill with political mask. And I still have no clue who was narrating the story to whom in the beginning of the film and then, it suddenly vanishes! Anyway, back to Fatema’s review. Read, discuss and dissect. Have underlined my favourite lines.

When the film began I was all agog with anticipation. ‘Fan-girl’, you’ll smirk. No.  I like Jha’s films and I think he is a great story-teller (well, sometimes) but am not a fan. At least in the usual sense of the word. And even if I were, I generally watch all films removed from expectations, impressions or pre-conceived notions, (which is how they are supposed to be watched in the first place, it’s something else, giving yourself up to a film) well, the latter sometimes get heavily influenced by trailors/promos mostly misleading but that’s not my fault!

Secondly, I had read so many bad reviews about Rajneeti and from people whose opinion I respect and that does not include the Sens and Chopras of the world (Not the beauty queens but then they might as well be, they are no different, just brand names). So, I went expecting or wanting nothing. Just with curiosity.

And I got an extremely entertaining commercial thriller posing as a serious political drama made by a man known for everything that he has not shown in the film. Bad acting apart, bad adaptation apart, bad (terrible) writing apart, Rajneeti stood out for me as a classic example of a story well-told, the story itself be damned. I itch to rip it apart threadbare but a Manmohan Desai film cannot warrant the same analysis as a Bergman film, can it? And Rajneeti, for whatever it is, is not a Jha film, is not a serious film and it is not a film to be taken seriously either. Still, I will still rip it apart because it is so much fun to do. And this is not a review so please don’t cry.

Before I do that, time for another disclaimer. I liked the film. (I can even sit through it for a second time.) And everyone who is itching to bang the comment section with red-hot full caps words like ‘How could you like the film, blah, blah bloo blee’ should understand that the fact of a film being good is exclusive from the fact of someone liking it or not. Yes, the assumed perception is that we ‘like’ only those things that are good (Really?) and so if I liked it, it must be good. Well, thank you for giving my tastes so much benefit of doubt, but I like lasagna as much as yesterday’s stale pizza fresh from the fridge and biryani as much as road-side Bangalore chaat. (Bangalore’s got the worst road-side chaat on earth.) And I would continue to do so even if I were a food critic.

So, Rajneeti. It is an engaging film.The narrative, even though flawed in its ideology, flawed in its character graphs, in the exploration of its context and setting, trivializing serious issues to profit dramatic and even melodramatic moments etc, is punchy. It keeps the audience hooked, edge of the seat excited right till the end when it trips upon itself and becomes incredibly silly.

And till now I believed that if a film was engaging it was a good film. But Rajneeti proved me wrong on that. It is a strongly told narrative, grabbing attention by force while never looking forced (unless the performances are, case-in-point the Kunti-Karan-Kavachh-Kundal scene. The alliteration is not mine. Blame Ved Vyaas for it.) But does it come together as a satisfactory cinematic experience? To me it didn’t. Amar Akbar Anthony still does, if one is looking for an example of engaging films that are good. (We will discuss what’s a good film some day here.)

If it is engaging, a story well-told then what goes wrong for the film? We shall begin with writing, my favourite. That’s always the culprit, in most bad ones. The film is structured like a historical droning on and on, packing as much as it can, yet where crispness turns shallow under the disguise of economy. This saga is woven together for this very sake of economy by older than Mahabharata (or as old? ‘Main Samay Hoon?’) tactic of voice-overs. The charter of film-making (we should have one) should declare any film using V/Os anymore be banned unless done differently. In an attempt to pack back-stories and backgrounds, the film rushes through years in the first fifteen minutes with a tacky after-thought of an exposition and settles around the issue of winning one election. Which takes more than two hours and multiple deaths on-screen to be finally won. Surely, there was a better way to structure it?

Like a historical, the film pretends to be important, as important as its epic counterpart Mahabharata, from which it borrows heavily and gives back nothing. That pretence becomes all the more petty when Godfather steps in for good measure. All promotional brouhaha (more about that later) about Sonia Gandhi’s story aside, a film that puts together Godfather and Mahabharata, two of the most powerful stories ever told, in itself makes for interesting viewing. But, if you cannot respect the classics by leaving them alone do not insult them (and us) by cut-paste-copy jobs. Rajneeti, by far is just that. The initial referencing seems a bit too obvious but can be taken as lengthy exposition given the scope of the story. But as it winds (down) it just borrows plot points after plot points, even unnecessary ones in a hastily stitched patchwork of a film. Right down to the unnecessary deaths that subsume the bloody drama into silly melodrama.

While we are talking about bad writing we shall talk about the epitome of all bad characterizations which is Samar. All others play out crosses between their Godfather selves and Mahabharata roles in various degrees of ability and inability but it is Samar’s character, though portrayed ably by Ranbir Kapoor, is the single undoing of an otherwise strongly-held commercial film. Like Padmaja Thakore’s review on PFC so very well put it, he is the most menacing of all criminals who after orchestrating tons of bloody deaths turns around in the end and says none of it interests him anymore. But for me, it is worse when he justifies it by spewing gyaan on how dirty politics is and how ‘andar ka jaanwar bahaar aa jaata hain’ and all that jazz. In one stroke it killed the whole film, (something that even Arjun Rampal’s or Katrina Kaif’s desperate attempts at acting could not do). That take, suited Shakti of ‘Virasat’ but not our confused Arjun-cum-Michael (zyaada) Samar. It is but only a reflection of a lack of political, social or ethical strand that the film had or even pretended to have reducing itself from what could have been a significant political film to a revenge family drama.

Realism was never a thought that crossed the maker’s minds despite the genre of his repertoire and his first-hand experience of the politics and hence the drama operates in a bubble, much like My Name Is Khan did, in a never-land which has the look and feel of the UP-Bihar belt but neither has its grit, its dirt, its earthiness or even its dialect, leave alone its politics. Moreover, the use of dalit politics is almost a shame as cursorily as it has been used. Everything, the politics, the land, the people and the context are a gaudily and hastily painted backdrop, much like the ones seen put up at Filmcity for B-grade film songs. So even if you are just talking about politics as a game, don’t reduce it to mere kabaddi!

Jha and Rajabali play some more kabaddi with their unique treatment of relationships, love, familial or sexual. It is surprising, or interesting, or both to note the flippancy with which romantic and sexual relationships are treated in the film. We will leave aside the moral issue of the stand the film takes or doesn’t by its strange portrayal of sexual relationships by giving benefit of doubt to the fact that maybe the makers hadn’t heard of protection or birth control. (Considering the writing technique is so old the film may have been written decades back, much before Copper-T and its setting sun ads hit the market). It is not a cause of real concern here as the film takes no stand on it just makes a fool of itself. But on a cinematic level it is a cause of concern as visually the scenes are presented as referentially as the relationships they are born of, are treated. Why I choose to make a point of it is because this guilty exploration sexual relationships in our movies is irritating the hell out of me. Sex scenes exist in a movie (commercial films) for two reasons, titillation or to define the romance. First of all, a film like Rajneeti needed none. (Its films like ‘In Mood for love’ that can use it but wont but that sensibility is something else!) Secondly, even if you use it for titillation the go all out and give the first benchers what they came for! And if you are pretending to do it aesthetically then do it like Mani Rathnam, no one does it better than him! And he doesn’t even have to pretend!

Here I am venting to my hearts content about a film I had no expectations about, which I even enjoyed! And I know scores of people who, fooled by the publicity of the film are actually raving mad. And this publicity angle really makes me raving mad too! It is like a promising an orange and delivering an apple! The blatancy of this deception makes me wonder, is it that the makers never have the faith in what they have made to publicise it as what it is? Or is it that the opening weekend is all that has begun to matter in a world of fast-decaying cinema?

The film could have sold on its own steam and did not need false alarm PR tactics that only led to depress certain sections of the audience. With its eye on commerce its sensibilities are purely commercial too. From that standpoint, Rajneeti works beautifully. Three hours of complete pop-corn crunching time-pass which has its repeat value. So what are we really cribbing about?

Yes, not one, two, but three films. And so, we are back with a new conspiracy theory. First, it was Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch. Like everyone else, we also thought that after years of frustration the filmmaker must have leaked it out online himself. Then came Sudhir Mishra’s Tera Kya Hoga Johnny. And now a film titled Mr Singh Mrs Mehta by debutanat director Parvesh Bharadwaj. So, whats common between all the three films ?

Well, they all got leaked out online much before their theatrical release. And all these three films have a common name in the credit roll – Tutu Sharma. Conclusion ? Our guess is as good as yours. Is it him ? If yes, why so ? If not, why isn’t he taking any action ? And if not him, who could it be ? And if someone else, then why isn’t Mr Tutu Sharma bothered to find it out !

Time for Mr Holmes & Dr Watson ? Because we don’t have the answer. Or can anyone enlighten us please!

(PS – Mr Singh Mrs Mehta is making headlines because of a nude scene of Aruna Shields…much like  the way Kate Winslet posed and Leonardo painted her in Titanic. Here the painter is Prashant/Prroshant/Proshant/Whatever Narayanan.)

After much countdown, the first theatrical trailer of Aisha is out. Its directed by Rajshree Ojha, produced by Anil Kapoor and PVR Pictures. Music Director is Amit Trivedi and stars Sonam Kapoor, Abhay Deol, Ira Dubey, Arunoday Singh, Cyrus Shahukar, Lisa Haydon and Amrita Puri. Written by Devika Bhagat, its based on Jane Austen’s novel Emma. Have a look and don’t forget to leave your comments.

And here is the official synopsis of the film…

Aisha is a girl with a simple diktat – everyone’s business is her business. Arjun is a boy with even a simpler set of beliefs – Aisha should mind her own business. Caught in the Delhi upper class world with its own set of social rules, Aisha navigates her world with a great sense of style and even greater optimism. Caught in her web are her best friend Pinky, the small town girl Shefali, the west Delhi boy Randhir and the hunk Dhruv. Aisha will make sure everyone dances to her tune. And all Arjun wants to do is disentangle that web and get Aisha out of an impending sticky mess. Who will succeed and who will succumb? Welcome to Aisha’s fabulous world where playing cupid is as easy as 123…if only that Arjun would stay out of her way!

Mim-Oh, aah, oouch! We knew that Ashutosh Gowariker was looking for an actor to play the lead in his big budget international film Buddha. But we had no clue that he would settle so close! Film critic Rajeev Masand tweeted about the casting news today evening. Its not confirmed yet but seems he is surely there.

Yes, we also want to know the same. What has he seen in Mimoh ? From which angle ? Where and how ? Or is it gonna be Har-Man/Hurr-Man/Whatever-Man casting redux and one more Whats Your T-rashee ? And if it is all about a star kid, then why this talent hunt ?

Also, Gautam Buddha must be turning in his grave. If you don’t believe us, click here. Why suddenly after 1000 years ? Or is it just a coincidence! We guess it has to do something with Mim-OoH….aah…ouch! We have already started Buddhist chanting!