Posts Tagged ‘PFC’

Coup d’état vs Coup de grâce

Posted: May 1, 2011 by moifightclub in cinema
Tags: ,

In media res : My favourite literary technique where, to put it quite simply, the story starts at the middle and not at the beginning and the end. Most of my favourite movies employ it to great effect, and I still think it’s the most interesting way to tell a story. A certain Chris Nolan seems to think so as well, but that’s name dropping and star fucking which is the fundamental reason of why PFC is dead and will remain so in all but name.

My story starts about 3 years ago in NYC where I was trying my hardest to avoid anything and everything Bollywood because I was in voluntary exile from the Emerald City (See how cleverly I foreshadowed Oz. I’m nothing if not subtle). I don’t even remember how but I came across the PFC blog and was very interested to read a rambling, almost incoherent account about a Scriptwriting workshop which had diggaj log like Vishal Bhardwaj, Javed Akhtar etc.

If you know me personally, then you might get the impression that I’m a bit of a snob. I’ve tried to dispel this perception of myself for a very long time but having turned 30 recently I’m like fuck this shit. If you can’t fight it, then bite it. You see I despise amateurism and mediocrity in everything, especially myself. I have a pretty good idea of my strengths and a very good idea of my weaknesses. I limit my singing to drunken karaoke sessions and in the shower and I keep my mouth shut if I know nothing about the topic being discussed. I don’t feel the need to express my opinion on everything under the sun but I realize I’m a minority. I’m not easily impressed by other people’s work and thankfully I hold myself to those same standards. I’m the first person to admit I fucked up or did a crappy job.

Coming back to that avtaar of pfc, everything seemed mickey mouse to me, so as is my habit, I wasn’t impressed. Cut to almost a year later, I land up in LA knowing exactly one person who ran the US division of the biggest Indian studio. (See how I name dropped here since I’m from Delhi it’s second nature). I was in a strange town, without a car and it was Christmas season. I remember spending a very sad and lonely new year by myself eating pizza and watching reruns of house.

It was during these less than champagne days of my life before I began to metaphorically rock the casbah that I recalled PFC and became an author. Mainak was one of the first people to friend me in LA and buy me some truly diabolical chai (See my latent snobbery emerging here again) and I thought, “hey this is pretty cool.” Even while being tadipaar I can kinda sorta keep in touch with desi filmmakers and maybe we can collaborate. Gheun Tak, as they say.

I think I blogged for about a year and a half and the quality of my posts varied mightily in quality, content and grammar. It was really influenced by the state of my liver, love life and very occasionally by intense bouts of homesickness. Some of my posts make me cringe now and I wish they would vanish forever but like films once it’s out there you have to live with it forever. PFC in that time changed it’s look and editorial direction a few times.

I got in touch with some amazing people and made some very close friends with PFC folk. I’ve had the good fortune of working with some of them and hope that their tribe increases with every passing day. I’m not gonna name you guys since clearly your not famous yet so I’m gonna wait till you are winning awards and shit till I start bragging bout you guys. Btw, Shripriya’s film is playing in NYC this week. So catch it if you can (Shri, it’s ok to plug you). Very recently I shot a documentary on the legendary K Balachander for another PFC founding member Vijay. (Note the blatant the name dropping here? Respect my authoritah !!)

Now that I’m back home, I run into a lot of people who know me through my posts on PFC, and in a sense I’m probably the one who took advantage of PFC the most as I was able to have a foothold in Bombay even as I was slogging my ass in LA and working towards my goal of racking up imdb credits like it was going out of business. PFC was a pleasant distraction but I never lost sight of what’s important i.e honing my skills and craft.

I have a lot to be thankful for, to PFC and to Oz, but the thing is, buddy, you can’t demand gratitude, you gotta earn it and it’s the most delicate thing in the world. As far as emotions go, it’s pretty much unobtanium. You can’t rub it in people’s faces and demand to be worshipped. It works when your Idi Amin Dada but not when you are Oz. For someone who always thought himself to be spiritually enlightened, you forgot the basic tenet of Karma. What goes around comes around. But enough of Oz who misguided though he was was in reality a puppet of the greater problem.

The problem was you, dear reader, who supported mediocrity in all manners possible and never put your money where your mouth was. For all the talk about supporting being warriors for indie cinema, it was Yashraj and UTV which got you hard. Indie cinema was a mere footnote and even at that moral relativity came into play. A film is not good or bad based on it’s budget or it’s director. It’s just good or bad. You refused to call a spade a spade and lavished praised on films which were meh and condemned films which were decent just because they were masala.

Why did I start reading PFC ? Because I wanted to read what a filmmaker went through while making a film not what the audience thought about it. I wanted to read about the blood, sweat and tears. I wanted to read about how they failed and how they triumphed. What I didn’t wanna read was fanboys giving online blowjobs, which what PFC ultimately mutated into. I’ve shot enough real porn to make fanboy porn look very boring. Then, of course, was the other end of the spectrum of the trolls getting their kicks by being a bitch.

Remember what I said about being a snob and keeping my mouth shut when I don’t know what I’m talking about? There are two sides to that coin. Shut the fuck up when you don’t know what you are talking about as well !!!! The amount of pinheads waving their dicks around in the name of their take on cinema was staggering. I mean, really would you tolerate it if I came to your place of work and gave you pointers on how to code or build a car from the ground up ? You would brand me a loony and kick me out on my ass. If PFC had done that long ago then it wouldn’t be a vestigal entity right now.

Mediocrity breeds mediocrity. It seems unfair to pick on one person but as a case study let’s take the enigmatic XX (Not exclusive author, just a blogger). I’m sure he’s a wonderful human being but as a writer he’s the donkey’s bollocks. If you can’t write in English then for god’s sake write in Hindi or Swahili for that matter. Why must you brutalize the language and cinema in the process? I can tell you for a fact he was one of the primary reasons why a lot of bloggers who were actual filmmakers quit PFC coz they couldn’t bear to write on a site where XX reigned supreme.

His divinely incoherent posts replete with bad grammar, syntax and almost zero understanding of the craft of filmmaking was a sight to behold. If you ever engaged him in an conversation, then the prospect of cutting your balls off with a blunt nail would probably prove to be less painful. When XX wrote, the collective soul of PFC had an orgasm and that sperm resulted in something much more dangerous. The pollen seed of mediocrity which spread like the kudzu weed and in the end throttled the life and soul of PFC. The folks who actually made or wanted to make films. When XX can write, so can anybody with access to a computer. All very democratic and idealistic wouldn’t you agree?

Unfortunately this very idea that everyone can make a film proved to be the death knell of PFC. Life isn’t a democracy and neither are films. It’s equal parts idiocracy and meritocracy with each playing the role of yin and yang. Once again as I’m a snob I believe there needs to be a barrier between the artist and the customer otherwise what will result is not going to be a work of daring individuality but rather a cookie cutter compromise intended to please the most number of people.

In essence a fast moving consumer good rather than an artifact of the human condition. Yes, PFC unearthed a lot of filmmakers and gave them hope and put them in touch with their heroes but there was a price to be paid. The price was mind-numbing sycophancy and with sycophancy comes the loss of perspective and eventually megalomania. It’s happened to lot of filmmakers who were touted as the saviors of Indian cinema and now they are nothing but a case study of what went wrong.

PFC was a great idea but it’s time is past and it’s for the better interest of the filmmakers themselves that I beg you not to indulge the fanboys and fan the fires of mediocrity. I know it’s a great ego boost but I’m pretty sure Kubrick didn’t a software engineer or any other random dude with an intense need to starfuck to tell how him great he was.

Another sad fallout of the entire PFC movement was that a lot of budding filmmakers got it into their head that the lack of craft in their films made it somehow more legit and honest. You would have an entire generation of filmmakers for whom being amateurish in their approach was a badge of honor. Even for established filmmakers excuses were made and discounts were given for their slipshod films.

I personally think the worst thing you can do to anybody in a creative endeavor is to give them dishonest feedback. This is the time I go arty farty and quote Rumi, “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”

I studied Business in my undergrad and despite having forgotten most of what I studied, one thing has always remained with men and hopefully always will. The two most important things for any entity be it for profit or otherwise are goodwill and brand perception. Once lost it’s almost impossible to get back and there is always a faintly rotten smell in the premises. PFC lost it’s goodwill a while ago and it’s brand perception is a joke.

I won’t be coming back to write on PFC and most probably on any other forum either as I am terrified of what sycophancy will do to my creative process. Now I understand why most visionaries are recluses. I’m no genius or visionary but I do value my work so I leave PFC to XX and his merry men. I feel sorry for picking on you but you are endemic of all I deplore in life the most, namely the celebration of mediocrity in the name of democracy. More than the folks who write on PFC it’s the people who read it now are the problem.

In the end just to prove how fucking indie/hatke/cool/ I am, I leave you with these words from William Shakespeare who may or may not have been from Kapurthala.

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

The evil that men do lives after them;

The good is oft interred with their bones

 – Mitchinder Singh Mathurawaale aka Mitch aka Gangopadhyay

This isn’t a tale of heroic feats. It’s about two lives running parallel for a while, with common aspirations and similar dreams.

-Ernesto Guevara de la Serna

I am bad with names. I guess, terrible. And am very good with excuses. So, it gets compensated mostly. And that’s why whenever I save a new contact in my phone, I always add a suffix or prefix to the name. It makes life easier. Because whenever I am searching for anyone, if not the name, the suffix or prefix will help. Either place, profession, common friends, where we met, how  we met, why we met, and noun, pronoun, adjectives, verb (don’t pick) of all kinds.

Before I started writing the post, I quickly searched for PFC in my phone’s contacts list and believe it or not, the number of contacts with PFC as suffix is 44 – covering almost every alphabet from A(shish) to W(B), even Z if you count Zoorya (Surya) as I call him. And in the last few years some of them have become 4am friends too. And am not counting any filmmaker, producer, writer or celeb here, with them it’s always aspirational, at least to start with. Talking about mere mortals like us. Friends from across states, nations and even continents. Many of us have met each other, shared our stories and bonded over everything that’s life. At the end of the day,  I guess, that’s what PFC has done. Internet, you beauty. Add cinema, and we are alive.

PFC started in August-September 2006. I guess I joined in December. How, why – don’t remember exactly. I wasn’t in a boring cubicle and my day job wasn’t boring either. Then? Must have been a google search for ‘Anurag Kashyap’. Because there was a time when PFC = AK, which wasn’t true but the industry always thought so. “Oh, AK’s mouthpiece. So much negativity on that site!”. Well, that’s the way it was.  Just because we had endless rounds of biryanis and drinks at his place with access to some of the best world cinema, it didn’t mean that we had to worship him or his friends. Criticise him and he will listen. He will argue, fight, try to make fun of you, put his favourite question to you, “tune kya likha/banaya hai?“. But that’s just him, trying to figure out if you really know your shit or just blabbering. And yeah, No Smoking had equal number of posts on both the extremes. Let me also confess that there were times when many comments which attacked AK were moderated and without telling anyone I used to approve them. If it’s about cinema, if someone is making a point that AK might not agree with, there is no point in blocking that comment. The general policy was to keeps the trolls away from filmmakers, keep the site clean but what’s life without some cheap thrills. If it’s AK’s cinema, his post, let him face it.

There was also Suparn Varma, Hansal Mehta, Pavan Kaul, Sourabh Usha Narang, Sam Longoria, Ramu Ramanathan, Bhavani Iyer (Onir, Navdeep Singh came onboard later) and some 30-35 bloggers from across the world. Forget everything else, we had no clue about each others names also. Some of us used to write posts with nicknames/handles and we used to address each with those handles. Honhaar Goonda, DPac, RK, Ranga, Macchar Kumar, Dabba – some of the handles that I can think of right now. Once a friend was visiting London and he needed some cash urgently. The first name that came to my mind was Honhar Goonda and I had to ask another friend for his real name. There were mele-mein-bichhde-huye-bhai too, Pavan Saab and Subrat: where Google fails, they come to the rescue. Do you know Chic Chocolate?

Then there was Kartik Krishnan (KK) – the face of PFC in Mumbai. He would go to any length to do anything for PFC, would travel any distance to meet any new author of PFC. With Vasan, three of us soon became the point persons for all kinds of activity. And the invisible brain, the hand, the man behind everything else was Oz. PFC was his idea, his intiative. Log milte gaye aur karwaan banta gaya.

For the first few years, it was all smooth. We never bothered to ask how the site was running, how much space, what the readership was and  other such technical details. That was all Oz’s headache. A bunch of 10-12 editors, including three of us, used to take editorial calls and we were busy blogging – shouting, screaming, fighting – all for cinema.

I might be completely wrong but I think the first time we had some kind of disagreement when a filmmaker gave the idea of turning PFC into commercial venture and someone decided to do it. Since it was mostly one man control as far as any cost was concern, it was all his call. Rest of us were foot soldiers. Discussion soon moved from club to chain mails and many of us expressed our discomfort about the way the decision was taken. We were blogging because we loved it, there was no intention of making it IndiaFM or any such commercial venture.

Of course there was ample space and time given to everyone to debate, discuss and put forward all kinds of suggestions in Club. Those days authorship wasn’t open to everyone, but by invitation only. We had a club for the authors which was not visible to the rest of the world. And countless nights have been spent on random discussion threads in that club. Those were the Club days too!

There was Review contest (Yes, Thani), One minute short film contest, Poster design contest, Pitcher contest – Oz was always the man to go and we would execute it in best possible way. TOI gave us half page coverage too, with some of us happily posing for the camera in the middle of  a busy road in Dadar’s Hindu colony. Aha, the cheap thrills. Every mention of PFC in the media was one step forward in making it more visible, making it more mainstream. The industry slowly took notice and mostly loved to hate us.

Krsn Kavita Kasturi (I hope I have got her name right) – She was one of the  respected blogger at PFC who knew her cinema quite well. As it mostly happened in the club, once she disagreed on some point which we all were gung-ho about. We were quick to brand her as PFC-Drohi and me and KK got into an altercation with her. I Still can’t remember what was the reason, the exact topic. Blame it on age. But we were PFC-Bhakts and she was PFCDrohi soon. She quit PFC after that. KKK, if you have Google Alert on, apologies from me. Because all this seems too trivial now.

And what a surprise, in the next two years, I was in her shoes. As a dozen of us  met last night  at a friend’s place and we started talking about PFC, we could not agree on one version of the story – how it started? Was it this or that? And there were alternate versions too. Why we could not agree on few things?

Among many other things (man with an agenda, conspirator), I was even branded racist. I could not figure out the reason then and discovered it much later that I had put a comment saying “firangi” or something like that in one of the threads in the Club and by that time one of us had got married to someone for whom that was racist remark or kind of. I tried the search option in my gmail, went through some mails, and gave up. Too tedious, too kiddish. There must be hundreds of those mails, may be we will tell our grand kids about it.

Like every story has my right side and your wrong side, it was the same for PFC. Also, it was “Catfish” syndrome for some of us. “Dude, he is so boring. Come on, we can’t say it to him. We have to meet him. No, you go away, I will skip.”  We also realised that the set-up was becoming too feudal. One man would control it all, he would not listen to anyone except those who  agree with him and celebrate him. We asked questions, raised our voice and it made things worse. The reason given was, “I quit my job, I gave my life and soul to it, my space, my time for it. How dare can anyone ask me what i want to do?”.  And we thought, “But who asked you to do so? We all have our jobs, we all still contribute”. The ping-pong game continued.

By that time, the commercial venture keeda had done the trick too. The critic we had no respect for and who is known for his extremely biased reviews, was asked if he would blog at PFC. Posts/blogs were done in tie-up with films/directors. The aim was to get more page views, more readership and thus generate revenue.

Things started piling up. All kind of decisions were taken on the basis of MBBS (Miyan-Biwi-Baccha-Samet). Many bloggers were finding an excuse to quit it.  Or as Roger Ebert wrote in the review of Blue Valentine, “I’ve read reviews saying Cianfrance isn’t clear about what went wrong as they got from there to here. Is anybody?” When in doubt, trust Ebert.

Oz also used to run DesiTrain.com, his personal blog. And there were some incidents where personal things got mixed up with PFC. It involved his family, he felt that some of us said/did something nasty about someone related to him, he wrote a post on it, we commented there, he was hurt, attacks, counter-attacks. And back to Ebert. Since there was no professional set-up for PFC, it was again Oz’s call. So, if he was pissed off with someone because of some personal reason, that also meant that it’s the end for him/her at PFC. You can take any side here and have your arguments, and we did the same. As I wrote earlier, I am not sure if this was the correct flow of the events. Flashbacks are not so smooth always as they show in movies. I might have missed many things but I am writing whatever I can remember now.

What else? I am still trying to think if there was any big reason apart from “making PFC commercial”. We tied up with Tehelka for PFC Awards, some felt we were moving too hastily,  some felt it’s better to do something rather than ponder over it and make powerpoint presentations. Few calls and more miscommunication – ‘how dare you hang up the phone, it was ISD call and so must have been the time difference my and your voice, you sent such a nasty SMS when I was going through a family crisis’, ‘But that was a joke and how am I supposed to know that you had a crisis at home..’ – everything that counts for the lovers’ tiff, we had it all. And like in every lovers’ tiff which ends in separation, this story is from one side, the other side’s story might be completely different.

I quit. KK quit. And for similar reasons some 20 authors also quit one after another. And we all felt strange that nobody thought that this was strange – if 20 active bloggers decide to quit one by one, there has to be some reason, some logic, some problem. Someone must be wrong somewhere. Naah, by that time it has straight forward – we are right, they are wrong. It was Us Vs Them. Those who stayed Vs Those who left. Those who stayed – we stayed at the worst period of PFC, we are friends, we saved him, saved PFC. Those who left – they don’t make any sense, it’s feudal approach, it’s MBBS, power drunk, dropping names, enough! It might have been lil’ bit of this, lil’ bit of that, some ego here and there, and that was the end for us. But I/we never thought that it would end in such a bitter way.

I started writing this as a Goodbye post and soon realised that it might not be a goodbye after all. But I thought it’s better to complete it.

So, Dear PFC – Cheers for all those 40 friends and 4am buddies, and apologies for all kinds of ugly spats, intentionally or otherwise, it just seems so funny now, or may be it was all for cheap thrill. May be we all were in our best possible Natural Born Killers avatar and part of that secret club. It was great fun till it lasted.

But no apologies for watching the 2nd half of Contract before the first half and then again going to the other screen to catch the first half, no apologies for asking Ramu, “Do you think you have lost it?”, no apologies for not liking No Smoking and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na and million other such things.

(PS: Questions have been raised many times about exclusive authors/filmmakers. Why don’t they write more often? They come only for their film promotions. But let me clarify – most of the time we wanted them to blog. Except few, it was us who approached them. They were not dying to blog. We wanted them and they had a film for release, they had something to say, so they blogged whatever they could. There is no point in putting the blame on them. We were eager to get them onboard – always!)

(PPS – Hansal – Sirjee, I have never cooked for anyone.)

What else? Lots, but can’t remember. Told ya, the age.

Yours,

Phoenixnu

RK now runs Cinemanthan,  Sameer went full time with his CinemaaOnline, Shripriya’s site is Tatvam, Mitch’s work can be seen at Bokehchaser, Fatema reviews films for Indiaentertainment and blogs at filmsandwords, and Pavan still runs GulzarOneline. Also, Indraneel can be found here, Sudhir is here, Jahan Bakshi writes here, Dipankar is here, and Srinivas here . And a bunch of us still create nuisance here at mFC. 🙂 For the rest, they are all on Facebook and Twitter.

PJ – As a reviewer wrote, ” Perhaps Prakash Jha is just punning on his initials, and laughing at us all”. We thought its priceless and deserves to be QOTD! But who knew that PJ would really get down to play dirty and stupid politics. First story is our conspiracy theory and second, our sources say, is cent percent true. And if second story is true, then we are sure about the first one too.

Here is the conspiracy theory. Padmaja Thakore posted a review of Fart-neeti on PFC, and in not so kind words. Two days later, the post vanished. No reason was given, where and how. And if you have been following Padmaja Thakore’s posts, then its not difficult to figure out how strongly she defends her reviews. Suddenly withdrawl symptoms! Why ?

We were curious and tried to put two plus two together. We found out that she is married to filmmaker Manish Tiwari who made his debut with Dil Dosti Etc. The film was produced by Prakash Jha. According to our theory, PJ must have got to know about the review and didn’t take it lightly. Ghar ka bhedi Bivishan, ok, Bivishan’s wife ( Yes, if they can take Mahabharata route, we are going Ramayan way). And thats why, without any reason Padamaja Thakore removed her Raajneeti post from PFC. If you are still interested in reading it, click here to read the post. Courtesy – Google cache!

Now, the fact. We have got to know that PJ has been calling the big bosses of one of the popular websites and has threatened to sue them and their reviewer. Reason ? Their Fart-neeti review and the reviewer’s hilarious pricesless quotes on him and his Fart-neeti film. It seems PJ, unlike his intials, doesnt have a funny bone. And our sources say that this news is cent percent true. If this is true, we are sure that our conspiracy theory is correct too.

Whats more, this is not the first time that PJ is doing it. When his film Apaharan released, something similar had happened. The film had a tie-up with one of the major hindi news channels. But when the channel gave a bad review to the film, PJ called up the person concerned and got into an altercation, on how they can give bad review to the film when they are channel partner! Since then, the two have not been on talking terms!

Someone need to tell Mr PJ that any kind of partnership doesnt mean that you own the editorial right over any kind of content! Unless, its Khat-Ni LajMi ! And yes Mr PJ, now we know why you lost the elections, not once but twice. Think big, play politics at bigger level, not dirty & petty ones!

PS – And after all this, we read a profile of PJ in the latest issue of Tehelka that portrays him as a man born with instinctive love for risk! Yawwwwnnn…..we have happily moved to Open!

PPS – Dont get us wrong, we also used to love his films. But then, his “films” used to deal with politics and not “him”! Now its all just a PJ!

Its filmy friday. Its Khan-day! Karan Johar’s big budget film My Name Is Khan is the release of the week, starring Shah Rukh Khan & Kajol. So, does its score or not ? Lets check out.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV)My Name is Khan is a film made with sincerity and sweat, ambition and conviction. It grapples with the most urgent and fraught issue facing humanity: religion. It features a striking performance by Shah Rukh Khan – 3/5

Raja Sen (Rediff) – Karan Johar’s finally made his first grown-up film, and made it well. It could have been the stuff of much more, but let us leave that for another day. This is a film that will inspire, make aware, make happy. And for now, let us celebrate how the man whose name is on the marquee just proved why he deserves that crown he so often boasts of  – 3.5/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – The film shamelessly tugs at your heartstrings and on more than one occasion wallops you to weep. Aided by solid camerawork, tight editing and a layered story, Johar crafts an engaging, stirring saga that is earnest and noble. With this message movie in the mainstream format, the director takes a step in the right direction. Watch it for its star who doesn’t miss a beat – 3.5/5

Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – In khushi or gham, Karan Johar always wants to please. He stuffs his goodie bag with so many little bon bons that the viewer finds it difficult to look away. It’s the same with My Name is Khan – 3.5/5

Mayank Shekhar (HT) –  Forrest Gump in its scope, Rain Man in its approach, slightly convenient in its ‘Bollywood opera’, world-class in its photographic treatment (Ravi K Chandran), more sorted than Kurban (from the same producer, along a similar theme); you can sense, throughout, honesty in the film’s purpose – 3/5

Taran Adarsh (Indiafm) – On the whole, MNIK is a fascinating love story, has an angle of religion and a world-shaking incident as a backdrop. It not only entertains, but also mesmerises, enthrals and captivates the viewer in those 2.40 hours. At the same time, a film like MNIK is sure to have a far-reaching influence due to its noble theme. I strongly advocate, don’t miss this one – 4.5/5 

Gaurav Malani (Indiatimes) – Like his placard that reads ‘Repair almost anything’, Shah Rukh Khan makes up for every minor inconsistency in the film. My Name is Khan is worth a watch on his name alone – 3/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – It’s Khan, from the epiglotis (read deep, inner recesses), not `kaan’ from the any-which-way, upper surface. In other words, it’s the K-factor — Karan (Johar) and Khan (Shah Rukh) — like you’ve never seen, sampled and savoured before. My Name is Khan is indubitably one of the most meaningful and moving films to be rolled out from the Bollywood mills in recent times. It completely reinvents both the actor and the film maker and creates a new bench mark for the duo who has given India some of the crunchiest popcorn flicks – 5/5

Sukanya Varma (Rediff) – The verbose nature of the script doesn’t leave much scope for gestures. Although the image of Khan standing on a deserted highway with a sign board that reads ‘Repair almost everything’ is true to the soul of this film. Even if it’s the only one of its kind – 3/5

Khalid Mohamed (PFC) – At the end of 18 reels,  you do carry something precious  home – SRK and Kajol. They are absolutely electric. Undoubtely, they don’t make’em like that anymore. And never will, which is why MNIK is absolutely compulsory viewing. You may have problems with it. Yet it is a must-must-see – 4/5

Shweta Parande (Buzz18) – One of the important films of Hindi cinema. Although it messes up its length, there are some touching scenes not to be missed. My Name is Khan has many messages and not just an ‘Autism Alert’ and ‘Terror Alert’. Go for it and enjoy interpreting – 3/5

Phelim O’Neill (Guardian) – It’s stunningly shot, on mostly US locations, and tackles plenty of hard topics – its deceptively light touch gets heavier as things progress. It’s a shame that much of the intended audience will not see this well-intentioned, slickly constructed and just plain likable film, for reasons that are very little to do with the film itself – 3/5

So, the verdict is between 3 and 5, scoring 3.5, 4, 4.5 and 5 too! Seems like much better than KANK which had quite extreme reactions.

This friday, its Chandan Arora’s Striker starring Siddharth and Padmapriya. Earlier Chandan Arora gave us two delightful films Main Madhuri Dixit Banna Chahti Hoon and Main, Meri Patni aur Woh. Will he deliver a hattrick ? Actor Siddharth has been going on and on and on about the film through his tweets. Lets see if its scoring well with the critics.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV)Striker is the kind of film that fills you with regret. There is skilful direction here, some nicely etched moments and commendable performances and yet the film never gathers enough momentum to make an impact. Striker never becomes the film it could have been – 2.5/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – The high point of the film is its authenticity, its heartwarming tale and its performances. Don’t believe the lack lustre promos. The film has more meat — and meaning — than it promises – 3/5

Taran Adarsh (Indiafm) – Striker, directed by Chandan Arora, falters because the story doesn’t arrest your attention in entirety and also, it seems like a never-ending ride, even though the running time is approx. 2 hours. Frankly, the story overstays its welcome – 1.5/5

Sukanya Varma (Rediff) – Ultimately what makes Striker a big deal is not its obviously visceral atmosphere or the various tangents it branches into but an impressive ensemble of little to unknown faces that allow you to interpret the story with an entirely fresh perspective. An interesting film with a lot on its mind, Striker isn’t comfort cinema but I will recommend it anyway -3/5

Mayank Shekhar (HT) – The story is in the grittiness of experience. Judgment isn’t fed; purpose, not expressly defined. This can be a problem for certain audiences who like to be told everything: who’s the loved hero or feared villain, why to empathise, when to emote… Sure this film is different then. Shouldn’t each be anyway? Worth it, all the way – 3/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Despite Arora’s solid efforts, the film loses steam well before the end credits roll. Although only two hours in running time, the movie feels endlessly long, and fails to culminate satisfyingly. It’s not a bad film by any measure, but it most definitely could’ve been better. Watch it for some excellent acting and for its gritty realistic feel – 2.5/5

Khalid Mohamed (PFC) – All said and seen, Striker lets off steam, like a pressure cooker come to boil. Now only if it had been smoothly edited, you would have said, “Wow.” In its current shape, you end up saying, “Hey, not bad”  about this Carrom-a- Cola. So, do it again Chandan Arora…but look at the final edit objectively. Please – 3/5

Minty Tejpal (Mumbai Mirror) – Finally, the story of the carrom player seemed far more captivating than that of the riots. Luckily, the dialogue is consistently sharp. Sitting on top of a water tank, Siddharth reminisces, “Us waqt humko yeh nahin maloom tha ki Bombay ko jitna bhi dekho, roz thoda aur dikhta hai…”. How true. In the end, Striker is a well-made film and worth a watch – 2/5

Shweta Parande (Buzz18) – All in all, it’s difficult to say if Striker will work in multiplexes or single screens. But if the plot were a little cleaner and crisper, it would’ve struck a chord with everyone – 2.5

So, the average seems to be between 2 and 3.

Three hindi films this weekend. Its quite a film friday! Two debutants and one veteran! And since we belong to BBC (Bhardwaj Bhakt Club), we made sure that we saw it even before the release. Click here for our review.

Ishqiya is directed by debutant Abhishek Chaubey and stars Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi and Vidya Balan. Lets see how it has scored with the reviewers.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – I know its only January but I think its safe to say that Ishqiya is the most crackling film you’ll see this year. It’s feisty and sly and very, very sexy – 3.5/5

Taran Adarsh (Indiafm) – On the whole, ISHQIYA is definitely worth a watch. The film has a riveting plot, great performances, soulful music, an absorbing story and skilful direction to make the viewer fall in ishq with it. It should appeal to the hardcore masses as also the multiplex junta – 4/5

Gaurav Malani (ET) – Regardless of the rugged-and-rustic ‘City of God’ kinda setting, the flavour of the film is predominantly light-hearted, as instinctive comedy oozes out from almost every sequence. The director’s hold on humour is remarkable as he makes good use of some dingy desi dialogues and some exceptional expressions by the lead male duo to hilarious outcome. The comic timing between Naseeruddin Shah and Arshad Warsi is absolutely flawless – 3.5/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Ishqiya, directed by debutant Abhishek Chaubey, is a delicious little film that teeters dangerously between saucy comedy and suspenseful noir. Unapologetically adult in its relationships, its language and its humor, the film sparkles for its inspired writing and uncompromised direction. It’s an assured, confident debut and one hell of a rollicking ride. A textured, compelling drama that’s unlike anything you’ve seen lately – 3.5/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – In Ishqiya lingo, the film is a sutli bomb (firecracker) that tickles and explodes. But for the hurried and harried end. Go, have a blast – 3.5/5 

Shubhra Gupta (Indian Express) – Small-town India is where the real stories are. `Ishqiya’ blends place and people in a way only those who’ve lived that life know how, and gives us a film with desirous flesh and pulsating blood – 3/5

Mayank Shekhar (HT) – Mira Nair is right. Bharadwaj is probably one of the few of Bollywood’s unique voices likely to corner any genuine attention in the West. This road film is in parts, an Yi Tu Mama Tambien sort of bizarre romance, an El Mariachi type curry-western, and a City Of God kind of grimy thriller. Yet, the pungent odour is entirely original. Oh smell it – for sure – 3.5/5

Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – Imagine a sticky sweet jalebi with a cup of hot milk. Just as they would have on a foggy morning in Gorakhpur. Crunchy, sweet, and quite delicious. Now think Ishqiya. Set in a reimagined eastern Uttar Pradesh, where minor hoodlums dress like cowboys and women are earthy sex queens, the film elevates rustic chic to an art – 4/5

Sukanya Varma (Rediff) – Rarely are grace and profanity cited in the same breath. Debutant filmmaker Abhishek Chaubey’s Ishqiya, however, is a privileged exception. If VB is the equivalent of Quentin Tarantino in Hindi cinema, safe to say with Chaubey, we have a Robert Rodriguez in the making – 3.5/5

Aniruddha Guha (DNA) – Ishqiya, among other things, is a great start for director Abhishek Chaubey. The film — with its great music, superior performances, and memorable dialogues — cannot be missed, unless you are under 18 years of age. This is pure ‘adult’ fun – 3.5/5

Jaya Biswas (Buzz18) – High on drama and wild at times, you are bound to fall in love with Khalujaan and Babban – 3.5/5

The average rating seems to be 3.5! Go for it.

The other release is Ram Gopal Varma’s Rann. We are tired of RIP-ing Ramu, again and again but seems he still isnt. Lets see if this one is his comeback. Rann stars Amitabh Bachchan, Paresh Rawal, Sudeep, Ritesh Deshmukh, Gul Panag and Neetu Chandra.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – Bachchan, Ritesh Deshmukh and Suchitra Krishnamoorthy, playing the mole, bring some restraint and dignity to this cacophonous tale. Otherwise it’s sound and fury signifying little – 2/5

Taran Adarsh (Indiafm) – On the whole, RANN is truly a well-made film. No two opinions on that. The film should be patronised by viewers of serious, sensible cinema. Recommended! – 3.5/5 

Gaurav Malani (ET) – To be honest (like the film demands), Rann is not a new story but the news battle setting saves it from getting run-of-the-mill. Rather than a story designed around the media world, Rann is more of the clichéd corrupt politician chronicle (that Bollywood has been narrating since ages) set on the backdrop of the broadcasting business – 2.5/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Rann is not so much a bad film as it is a boring, predictable one. Varma and his writers borrow the Madhur Bhandarkar-blueprint and give us uni-dimensional characters who are either black or white, seldom grey. Although the film’s portrayal of a certain kind of Hindi news journalism may not be far from the truth, it is the film’s lazy stereotyping that is tiresome here. Varma uses crazy camera moves, tight close ups and a booming background score to create the drama that his simplistic script fails to – 2/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – It’s gritty. It’s grey. And it’s greatly topical too. Ram Gopal Varma returns to his let’s-dissect-the-real-world brand of cinema with the racy-pacy Rann that might run on predictable lines, nevertheless it makes for a gripping viewing with its behind-the-scenes dekko on the Breaking News, any which way, syndrome that seems to have overtaken certain sections of the media – 4/5

Khalid Mohamed (PFC) – All seen and said, the media ka kheema could have been infinitely superior. Gratifyingly, there are some redeeming moments which do leave you Zingin’ in the Rann. Thanks – 2.5/5

Kaveree Bamzai (India Today) – Ram Gopal Verma has been watching too much news. So much that he has made a movie on exactly the same principles that he trashes. Ensure your anchors/actors indulge in crazy histrionics, forget about the research and use hyperbole at all times. Watch it if you want a good laugh – 2/5

Mayank Shekhar (HT) – Exposes are cheap devices; explanations, precious. Most good art achieves the latter, great films do. This is neither an expose nor an explanation. It’s just an exercise in corniness, not very different from the subject of its scrutiny – 2/5

Sukanya Varma (Rediff) – There are a couple of moments in Rann involving a seemingly anonymous call to super tense Sudeep or Big B coming to terms with the humiliating truth about his son are reminiscent of vintage Varma, Then again, a messy climax, witless and uninspired writing and shoddy, detail-free narrative ensure these memories are washed out as soon as they are formed – 2/5

Aniruudha Guha (DNA) – Over the years, Varma has used, and abused, the same treatment in his films to such an extent that it has lost its novelty and fun factor now. Extreme close-ups, dark environs, a garish back ground score – Rann‘s soundtrack is awful, to say the least – we’ve seen it all in previous Varma films.  Rann just doesn’t work – 2/5

Shweta Parande (Buzz18) – Ram Gopal Varma brings us yet another gripping drama in the league of Sarkar and Sarkar Raj. The performances definitely make up for the flaws in the story. Also watch out for some good scenes and camera angles – 3.5/5

Ramu is still not back! The average rating seems to be 2/5! If you follow reviews every week, you know that Taran and Nikhat really dont count. Their operational cost is something different.

And the indie release of the week is Road To Sangam by debutant director by Amit Rai and stars Paresh Rawal, Om Puri and Pawan Malhotra.

Taran Adarsh (Indiafm) – On the whole, ROAD TO SANGAM is mainly for connoisseurs of cinema and also for the festival circuit – 3/5 

Jaya Biswas (Buzz18) – No doubt the film got the best film award at MAMI and rave reviews at the International Film Fest of South Africa, Los Angeles Reel Film Fest and so on. And what better time to release the film when we are so close to commemorate Gandhiji’s death anniversary on Jan 30. It’s a journey worth exploring. Only if the packaging was good, the impact would have been more – 2.5/5

This friday, its the attack of the Pindharis! Anil Gadar Sharma returns with Veer starring Salman Khan, Zarine Khan, Mithun Chakraborty, Sohail Khan and Jackie Shroff. The story is by Salman Khan. Beat this!

Here are some early reviews which suggests that Veer belongs to that rare dud tribe who die on their birthday! Born to die friday Species.

Anupama Chopra (NDTV) – The best thing about Veer is that it is comic book cinema no pretensions. Without a trace of embarrassment or apology, Sharma goes full throttle on speeches to the motherland, honour, mardangi. And as Manmohan Desai told us decades ago: Mard ko dard nahin hota, so Veer snarls and slices through men without pausing for breath – 2.5/5

Raja Sen (Rediff) – The son of a legendary hero grows up and attempts to follow in his father’s footsteps, however bloodthirsty this road may be. It is standard Bollywood cliche, but Salim Khan, one of our most iconic screenwriters, deserves a better tribute than son Salman, credited for the film’s story, churning out this unbelievably hackneyed period disaster – 1/5

Gaurav Malani (ET) – Salman Khan gives a powerful performance in real sense. He is so prominent in the film that not even his brother Sohail Khan gets one consolation scene. Mithun Chakravarthy is the only one who stands on his own other than Salman Khan. Zarine Khan is a replica of Katrina Kaif and using the same dubbing artist adds to the analogy. Lisa Lazarus is absolutely wasted in a 2 scene role. Jackie Shroff is repetitive in his villainous act. You have to be a braveheart to watch Veer – 2/5

Shubhra Gupta (India Express) – Salman is the last Khan standing. It makes not a whit of difference to him and his directors that the space for retrofitted 70s packages has shrunk to nothing : Salman, In and As Veer, defiantly dances, romances, and bests his enemies in combat— hand-to-bare hand, and because `Veer’ is allegedly a period film, sword-to-clanging sword – 2/5

Taran Adarsh (Indiafm) – VEER drives home a few hard facts…No amount of gloss can substitute for an engaging story. Not all directors are capable of pulling off a period film. No star – howsoever strong his rankings are – can infuse life in a comatose script – 1/5

Khalid Mohamed (PFC) – A battle’s on, followed by much prattle. How they rattle on about the British Raj and a desert-principality presided over by a king, mostly garbed in outfits which are crow-black. Quite tack. In effect, then, Veer is a waste or resources, talent and of course, our time..and ticket money – 2/5

Rajeev Masand (CNN IBN) – Even if you’re willing to forgive all the historical inaccuracies and the complete disregard for detail, Veer starring Salman Khan, is still an impossible film to appreciate.Unacceptable in these times. From Cameron’s Pandora to Anil Sharma’s Pindhari, we’ve come a long way baby – 2/5

Nikhat Kazmi (TOI) – Now no one’s doubting the fact that Salman Khan’s a thoroughbred veer. For, it does take a whole lot of bravado to pick up a blast from the buried past and present it an age when everyone is determined to tell a brand new story in Bollywood. Of course, films like Lagaan and Jodhaa Akbar did manage to strike a chord with the newbie viewers too, but they were more like exceptions to the rule. By and large, the scheming Brits and their grab-India story has been confined to the creative bin when it comes to modern Indian cinema, song and literature – 2.5/5

Mayank Shekhar (HT) – It belongs more to Bollywood of back in the day: a song designated for smokers every few minutes; crispness, hardly a narrative virtue; three hours, the accepted clock-time. And yet in trying so hard to win acclaim and scale, the film goes all over the place – *Gladiator, Troy, Braveheart* – complicating matters for its easy viewers – 1.5/5

Minty Tejpal ( Mumbai Mirror) – Veer is a very, very terrible film, which has lots of thudding hoofs, bloodstained swords, chopped-off heads plus brawny men hooting and fighting. What Veer doesn’t have is any kind of a script or a director, forget about any other related sense or sensibility. The film is a brutal assault on all your senses, with lousy direction constantly competing with mediocre acting struggling with a garbled period story, and one has to indeed be very ‘veer’ not to cry and run away in sheer fright – 1/5

Seems like Veer is already headed for Veer-gati!