Posts Tagged ‘Raj Kumar Yadav’

Hansal Mehta should celebrate his birthday today. After Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar in 2000, he has been making one forgettable film after another. Forgettable might be too polite to describe them. And then he makes a comeback with such a strong film that it grabs you by the throat, makes you sit down, and wonder if he really directed those forgettable ones. A rare achievement that few filmmakers manage to do – to pull themselves out of what can be called “Bro-Filmmaking-In-Bollywood”. This is nothing less than a rebirth.

Fatema Kagalwala tells you why you should not miss this one. Mehta’s Shahid goes straight into MFC’s “Must-Watch” list.

Shahid MFC2

You’ve heard about the film. You might have read the raving reviews too. Some of you have watched it. But the film gets its real glorious moment now. Theatrical release. It’s every film’s Holy Grail. It’s the child bride’s gauna. It’s a validation that matters more than awards at times. Especially for a film like Shahid. One that dares to speak about a man who dared to himself. Especially in our regressive, repressive, intolerant times.

For a long time, I kept pronouncing the title of the film as ‘Shaheed’ as in martyr. And isn’t it so true of the story and the man at the centre of it? You will find a number of reviews telling you how good the movie is. It is. Powerful and uncompromising with the truth. So I will quickly chart down the reasons of why I think (in no particular order) you must watch this movie –

Rajkumar Yadav – We all know he is a defining talent of our times. And so far we have seen him only in multi-character movies. He carries this film entirely on his shoulders and it is not an easy task to sustain. The film is a story of a hero but has an incredibly un-melodramatic and non-manipulative story-telling. It maintains a strongly unemotional, non-manipulative tone, satisfied to observe the characters fighting, losing and winning their battles. Any other actor (except Nawaz maybe) would be torn between trying to underplay the heroism and emphasise the man behind it all. Not Rajkumar. He finds it equally easy to portray vulnerability as he portrays stoicism.

Hansal Mehta – Every film-maker has his or her own journey and mostly it is tough. It rarely depends on how original or independent minded he is. It also rarely depends on his reasons for making the films he does. Hansal Mehta has had his own downward spirals but the important thing is he bounced back when most give up. With this. Fighting a hiatus and a creative bankruptcy (in his words) maybe tough, but fighting an unforgiving, unsympathetic system is much worse. Shahid was not a subject that would be easy to make in a socio-political-artistic environment like ours. But it got made and got made well. That alone deserves applause.

Realism – That elusive, enigmatic bitch that takes talent to realise onscreen. From sets to actors to screenplay to dialogues to costumes to direction to acting to everything else in between. Shahid comes so close to reality it could be yours and mine story. As a Muslim it is mine and well, it was very uncomfortable watching it play out like it did. It must have been uncomfortable for Mehta as well, to choose to include the gory, debasing insult he was subject to after he made Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar. It takes guts to make an effort to heal such wounds through artistic means.

Casting – Hansal Mehta gives complete credit for finding the right actors to his casting director Mukesh Chhabra. All that matters to us though is that Mohd Zeeshan Ayub brings alive the part of the protective, fatherly elder brother and Baljinder Kaur is so good as a Muslim woman I was shocked to learn she was a Punjabi. Prabhleen Sandhu as Mariam, Tigmanshu Dhulia as Maqbool Memon and Vipin Sharma are deft touches in a carefully created canvas.

Zero melodrama – How often do we get to watch films about heroes, about controversial material, about polarising issues, about our social reality that comes without a Dolby surround sound moralising or 3D level emotional manipulation? Shahid loses out on deifying its central character, it may have become a ‘My Name is Khan’ financially if it had done that. But the choice to go strictly biographical in structure, objective in tone and let the man’s journey speak about itself makes this film this decade’s Black Friday.

Muslim as humans – This is not a movie championing Muslim rights. Very few people understand that the right response to bigotry on the basis of racism and sexism is not deifying the identity or struggles of the ‘other’. The right response is to bring humanism into the equation to balance it. The film, just like its protagonist, with a rare perspicacity, speaks for Muslims as humans and not as a religious identity, and the distinction is very important. Especially at a time when we are simply revelling in bracketing people according to class, caste, gender, race, colour, community, geography with a ‘hey, let’s find more reasons to discriminate’ glee.  If the victimised community was Hindu, Sikh or Christian, the film’s viewpoint would have been the same. In our times of muddled philosophies, faux intellectualism and confused, twitterisque moralising, walking this fine line perfectly is refreshing and heartening.

Shahid Azmi – A victim, a trainee terrorist, an imprisoned accused, a lawyer and a crusader of human rights of the wrongly accused. He finished his college degree while in jail awaiting release and in career spanning seven years e had a remarkable 17 acquittals. It is a sign of our times that his end came the way it did. It is also a sign of our times that someone thought his story important enough to be told despite the evident dangers. There is hope.

We keep screaming, we need more movies like these. And now we have one. Go watch.

UTV is on a roll this year. First, they gave a big platform to Ship Of Theseus, made it visible enough, and got screens for it even when Chennai Express was running. Second, repeat the same act with The Lunchbox. And now, they have picked up another terrific film – Hansal Mehta’s Shahid. The film has got a new trailer too. Have a look.

Some of us saw the film at Mumbai Film Festival last year, and can easily bet that it’s another “must watch”. It also has one of the year’s best and break out performance by Raj Kumar Yadav. The film rides entirely on his shoulder and he makes you believe that he is Shahid Azmi.

The film is scheduled to release on 18th October.

Official synopsis

“Shahid” traces the story of a slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi. Set during the communal violence that was unleashed in the city of Mumbai since 1993. We see a remarkable tale unfold. From attempting to become a terrorist to being wrongly imprisoned under the anti-terrorism law to becoming a lawyer, a champion of human rights (particularly the Muslim minorities in India), “Shahid” traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy while following the rise of communal violence in India. The story of an impoverished Muslim struggling to come to terms with injustice, inequality and rising above his circumstances is an inspiring testament to the human spirit.

The cast includes Raj Kumar, Prabhleen Sandhu, Baljinder Kaur, Tigmanshu Dhulia, K K Menon, Yusuf Husain, Prabal Panjabi, Vinod Rawat, Vipin Sharma, Shalini Vatsa, Paritosh Sand, Pavan Kumar, Vivek Ghamande, Akash Sinha, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub and Mukesh Chhabra.

shahid_04

Aha, finally the good news. Hansal Mehta’s Shahid has been acquired by UTV and they will soon announce the release date. Hopefully the film should be out in theatres in next few months. The film marks Hansal’s terrific comeback after a long time and Raj Kumar Yadav is so effortlessly good that he makes you believe that he is the real “Shahid Azmi”. The film has been doing the fest rounds for quite sometime now. Do watch it when it releases.

UTV really seems to be going in right direction with the perfect balance of masala and non-mainstream films. First, Ship Of Theseus, then The Lunchbox and now, Shahid. I would say i wouldn’t mind the assault of the big budget braindead star vehicles as long as they keep on balancing it with some sold small and good films. And hopefully other production houses will follow them.

Click here to read a post on Shahid written by Ad filmmaker Ravi Deshpande.

Official Synopsis

Shahid is the remarkable true story of slain human rights activist and lawyer Shahid Azmi, who was killed in 2010 by unidentified assailants in his office. From attempting to become a terrorist, to being wrongly imprisoned under a draconian anti-terrorism law, to becoming a champion of human rights (particularly of the Muslim minorities in India), Shahid traces the inspiring personal journey of a boy who became an unlikely messiah for human rights, while following the rise of communal violence in India. This story of an impoverished Muslim struggling to come to terms with injustice and inequality, whilerising above his circumstances is an inspiring testament to the human spirit. Starring Raj Kumar, Prabhleen Sandhu and Baljinder Kaur.

Cast and crew

Director: Hansal Mehta

Language: Hindi

Runtime: 123 minutes

Exec. Producer: Jai Mehta, Kunal Rohra

Producer: Sunil Bohra, Shailesh Singh, Guneet Monga and Anurag Kashyap

Production Co: Bohra Bros Pvt. Ltd. and Anurag Kashyap Films Pvt. Ltd.

Principal Cast: Raj Kumar, Prabhleen Sandhu, Baljinder Kaur, Tigmanshu Dhulia, K K Menon, Yusuf Husain, Prabal Panjabi, Vinod Rawat, Vipin Sharma, Shalini Vatsa, Paritosh Sand, Pavan Kumar, Vivek Ghamande, Akash Sinha, Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, Mukesh Chhabra

Screenplay: Sameer Gautam Singh, Apurva Asrani, Hansal Mehta

Cinematographer: Anuj Dhawan

Editor: Apurva Asrani

Sound: Mandar Kulkarni

Prod. Designer: Rabiul Sarkar

With the positive reviews pouring in from all quarters, i was waiting for some contrarian views. Because what’s the fun if we all are on same page. Though there have been few such views too, and criticism mostly have been looking at the big picture and the issues involved. But Runcil Rebello believes that the film is about “the smaller picture”. And he also writes about how the film is different from the book.

kai-po-che

In Abhishek Kapoor’s Kai Po Che!, it’s all about opposition – ideas clashing with each other, and sometimes both winning, sometimes just one. There is the age-old money versus passion squabble, further highlighted in the academics versus sports issue omnipresent throughout Indian homes. Then there is the overarching notion on which the film is built: friendship versus ideology, and friendship does not always win. There is also Mathematics versus Biology.

Kai Po Che!, adapted from Chetan Bhagat’s The Three Mistakes Of My Life, is a story set in Gujarat around the turn of the millennium. The nineties were done and dusted with. Internet, Nokia mobiles, malls were making their introduction into daily Indian life. The Indian cricket team would become a leading Test-cricket playing nation in the following decade. Religious politics had not yet reached a fuming and flaming high.

But Kai Po Che! doesn’t have its eyes set on such large-scale issues. Rather, it is content telling the story of three friends: Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) – flamboyant, impulsive, passionate, Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) – logical, ambitious, money-minded, and Omi (Amit Sadh) – simple, lovable, easily swayed, who set up a sports equipments store-cum-cricket training academy-cum-Maths tuition classes. This film is as much an ode to friendship as it is about the decay of that lovely bond.

The idea of opposition isn’t hammered into our heads. It’s brought up now and then, never over the top. Just like the film. The story (written by Abhishek Kapoor, Chetan Bhagat, Pubali Chaudhuri and Supratik Sen) does not veer much from the book, and if you’ve read the book, you’d realise then that it is a story tailor-made for Bollywood. And yet, the writers and the director stitch the film into an altogether different piece of fabric. The film is removed from typical Bollywood treatment. No star actors, no item numbers, no over-the-top treatment, just three songs (Hell! The soundtrack by Amit Trivedi [with lyrics by Swanand Kirkire] includes a garba-beat song in Shubhaarambh, but the film’s garba scene isn’t picturised on it. Unexpected.) Instead, Kai Po Che! is about the small moments in the fabric. Don’t lose sight of the smaller picture.

Characters, especially Omi’s, oscillate, not able to settle on one thing. He, at times, goes where the wind blows, and sometimes marches to the beat of the other drummers of the show. He may not always like what he does, but he is loyal to any cause he signs up for. Govind and Ishaan, on the other hand, are the proverbial immovable object and unstoppable force. They’d go to any distance to get what they want, albeit what they want is in diametrically opposite directions. Govind has to let loose, has to understand that not all things in life are solved by Mathematics, but some by Biology too. Ishaan’s sister Vidya (Amrita Puri) would be his teacher in this regard. Ishaan has to grow up, has to not let anger affect his decisions, but his mind. Ishaan, and to a lesser degree, Govind too, do not care about how religion plays into their plans. They are fine with sitting on the fence when it comes to this particular power struggle, letting Omi handle the dirty work.

What these three have in common, though, is something India is obsessed with: cricket. Cricket (and films) are said to heal wounds. In this film, it is the historic 2001 Calcutta test match between India and Australia that plays the role of mediator and doctor. It is also cricket that brings together children of two opposing homes, Omi and wiz kid Ali (Digvijay Deshmukh), under one roof.

Abhishek Kapoor has a knack for staging event situations. In Rock On!! earlier, he staged rock concerts in a way no Indian film had before. In Kai Po Che!, he goes large scale, but doesn’t make them the focus of his movie. The eye firmly remains on the three friends. Earthquakes, cricket matches and the Godhra Riots form the trifecta of incidents around which they break and mend. Tough decisions are made, mostly on impulse and emotion. When calamities strike, there is no time to think. Govind, Omi and Ishaan choose their respective sides all on basic instinct.

The film, though, has been meticulously planned. If Anay Goswami’s cinematography portrays Gujarat in a favourable light, Hitesh Sonik’s background score livens up the lives of the three friends. Deepa Bhatia transitions from one date to another finely, giving her best cut in the crucial scene during the riots.

Sushant Singh Rajput and Raj Kumar Yadav play their roles well. They really look the part, and so does Manav Kaul, being crafty and smart as Bittoo mama, Omi’s political leader uncle. Amrita Puri is cute and plucky adequately. In fact, the casting (by Mukesh Chhabra) is impeccable. The one actor, though, to make the most impact is Amit Sadh. From portraying a simpleton to a political henchman, Amit Sadh’s eyes, and hair, speak.

All these people, eventually, are just holding the manja. It is Abhishek Kapoor flying this kite, cutting every other kite in his path. He’ll be the one screaming kai po che! at the end of it. And what a delight it has been to watch this kite soar great heights.

 

P.S.: If you’ve read the book, you’ll understand the flashback and the conclusion has changed; all for the best. Below are a few details of what is different in the film.

(SPOILERS AHEAD!)

Chetan Bhagat, in his book, The Three Mistakes Of My Life, had Govind as the lead character. The biggest change is towards the end. In the riot scene, Omi is the one who protects Ali, Ishaan and Govind from his uncle. Omi dies in the process, and Ishaan doesn’t talk to Govind for years because of the revelation that his sister and he were in a relationship. Govind eventually, before committing suicide many years later, writes a letter to Bhagat, who he is inspired by, thanks to his two books Five Point Someone and One Night At The Call-Centre, who then intervenes and brings all of them together again. An utterly melodramatic end to the story, which thankfully was changed.

Another important section that was missing from the film was the part where the three friends finance a trip for Ali and themselves to Australia to receive cricket coaching. The Australians, seeing the marvel that Ali is, offer to train him but only if he eventually plays for Australia. Ali here in an outright dramatic fashion proves his patriotism for the country by shouting that he’ll play only for India and then they return to India.

Also, Vidya and Govind sleep together on Vidya’s eighteenth birthday at her home itself in the book. This too was changed in the film.

Also, missing in the book is the Diu section. The three friends are basically saints in the book, not leaving their pol to do things normal twenty-something guys would do i.e. to drink.

Abhishek Kapoor also changed the narrative by making all three characters equally important, thereby removing the crux of the story from the ‘three mistakes’.

The rest of the movie is pretty faithful in its adaptation.

talaash

SPOILER  ALERT

My blood group is C+ve. And i don’t mean the Hindi cuss word that starts with “C”. Because there’s no other explanation for me getting so restless about films and going to bed peacefully only after i have chased all the possible “sources” to know what the films (or its spoilers) are about. Blame it on occupational hazard, or maybe am in this occupation because of the same blood group. Also, because for me, films are more about “how they happen” and not “what happens”.

Nothing to boast about but i knew about the so called big twist of Talaash almost a year back. Though i had my doubts about it but everything related to the film was pointing in the same direction. And a year is a long time to make peace with the “ghostly” fact. As the release date of Talaash was near, i was travelling out of country. Curious that i am, got in touch with a friend who was watching the film much before anyone else. I asked him if he can let me know as soon as he is done with it. He saw it, liked it, and said, he is not going to tell me the spoilers. I told him, i am going to tell him what i know, and he just has to say yes or no. I asked him about the big twist. He said, yes, but how do you know? Well, the first rule is you never reveal your sources. Aha, much relief after waiting for a year. I quickly tweeted that yes, yes, yes, it’s the same twist that we knew since a year back. At least the C+ souls like me will get a good night’s sleep finally.

I saw the film almost a week after its release. And i have concluded that if you know the twist, the film works in a much better way. And there are many reasons for it. First, the pitch. The makers tried to keep the per-release campaign quite low-key because of the fear that the twist might get out due to over-exposure. Everything pointed out that it’s a thriller or suspense drama. The font of the print campaign started becoming bigger with the countdown – TRUTH will be out in 5…4…3….2…1 day. You can’t blame anyone when everyone saw the same story in the promotions – a cop chasing the death of a film star. He has to crack the case. So what is the TRUTH? The big twist? Now, if the baggage comes down to the fact that Kareena is a ghost who guides Aamir Khan’s character to crack the case, it seems straight out of @OMGFacts, or evn LOL-Facts. It’s easy to dismiss it when you have invested so much in the case which looks so real, and with such great mood that creates the world around it and builds the prefect pace. Ghost? That’s a joke, that’s so flimsy! The writers could not think of anything else?

Now, imagine if the film was pitched to you as “supernatural drama”. You are prepared for it and it’s much to easy to accept it that way. But i think the writers of the film did set up the track of Rani Mukerjee quite well to give you a hint in which direction the film was heading. It wasn’t like a pop-up music video. I can’t say with full confidence but i think i would have still liked it if i had no clue about the twist.

Show me a man who was shattered by the unnatural death of a loved one, and has made peace with it without doing anything unnatural. Shit happens, and then we find our ways to cope with it. I am an atheist but  i have seen/heard/experienced things which are difficult to explain and impossible to believe. They remain unanswered and life goes on till another death comes knocking.

Also, when you don’t know the twist, you are waiting for the big revelation in the end. The problem is the fashion in which we have been conditioned to watch films – the theory of “end me kya hota hai?” But Talaash is much more than that. And you can focus on the rest, which is so gorgeous, once the twist is out of your way. In fact, that’s not even the film. It’s about a couple coming to terms with the loss of their kid. Both take different routes to trace that piece of peace. The murder case is purely incidental. But the sad part is you won’t waste you weekend to watch a couple coming to terms with the death of their loved ones. Will you? You need coke, corn and crap on screen for your weekend outing. So most probably they decided to hook you with that “murder mystery” pitch. And i must admit that’s it gives me a kind of sadistic pleasure to know that you have been cheated.

And in a good way, it also reminded me of an all time favourtive film of mine – Umesh Kulkarni’s Vihir. Because love, loss, death, water, wandering souls, and peace – the motifs are the same here. If you still haven’t seen it, WATCH IT!

Without any doubt, Talaash is one of the best directed films of the year. Mohanan’s photography with Sampath’s music creates such a compelling mood. The tone is set as soon as the credit roll begins with those invisible faces and characters that bollywood doesn’t give a fuck about even though they are at every signal in this city. Rani Mukerjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Raj Kumar Yadav, Sheeba Chaddha, Aditi Vasudev and Subrat Datta – all of them are in top form here. You are hooked to it till the interval happens, and then Cinemax Versova killed the mood for me by playing commercials for at least 30minutes. Had to go out and shout at the manager to start the film post-interval.

Another criticism i have heard so far is that the film scratches the surface, and it doesn’t go any deep. Aha, i have always believed that it entirely depends on you – how you want to read the film. If you can’t scratch beyond the surface, don’t put the blame on the film and the filmmaker always. Instead click here and read the best piece on the film.

I might not be a fan of Aamir Khan but you have to appreciate the choices he makes. He believes in them and pulls it off. Compare it to the films of others A-list stars of Bollywood. What are they doing? What are the delivering? All the focus is on 100-crore these days. And when it’s so much easy to deliver that with cheap crap-corn-cola, why put so much effort and take a risk? Respect for that.

Also, am wondering if it’s high time to divide Excel’s films into Farhan Akhtar Films and Zoya Akhtar/Reema Kagti Films. Someone compared Kartik Calling Kartik to Talaash on twitter and said KCK was better. I tried hard to control my laughter. That film had much more baggage on its twist and it was a (chinese?) joke in the end. And, remember Game – their another venture in similar space? Don’t have words in my dictionary to describe that garbage. Not sure why, but i feel these films belong to Farhan Akhtar who has been on a downhill since his brilliant debut, Dil Chahta Hai. But the ladies are trying new things and pulling it off with so much ease – Honeymoon Travels Pvt. Ltd, Luck By Chance, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and now, Talaash. To quote another favourite dialogue of the year, Farhan Baba, tumse na hoga ab, rehne do. Bus acting hi kar lo.

(PS – Can we please nominate Aamir’s eyebrows for performance of the year? Though his moustache was vying hard for attention but my vote goes for the eyebrows.)

– Posted by @CilemaSnob

Bedabrata Pain’s directorial debut Chittagong is finally ready for release. The film will have its world premier at IFFLA fest. The makers have just released a new poster of the film. And it looks good.

And here’s the synopsis according to the official release…

To say that 14-year-old Jhunka Roy’s life was about to change would be an understatement. Set against the beautiful forests and villages of Chittagong, a youth movement was underway, leading up to a drastic revolution. Based on true events in British occupied India of the 1930s, a group of untrained school youth handed the British their first military defeat. Led by a schoolteacher, local villagers and school children showed the power of mass resistance over colonial oppression.

Bedabrata Pain’s directorial debut is a coming-of-age tale of triumph, sacrifice and love, as a young boy’s determination sets the course for an entire nation’s freedom. This progression is what would later spark the first mass peasant movement in India, with the help of Jhunka Roy.

Credits include –

Director: Bedabrata Pain. Producer: Bedabrata Pain
Screenwriter: Bedabrata Pain, Shonali Bose
Cinematographer: Eric Zimmerman
Editor: Aldo Velasco
Music Composer: Shankar Mahadevan, Eshaan Noorani, Loy Mendoza
Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Vega Tamotia, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Barry John and Dibyendu Bhattacharya.

Bedabrata Pain’s Chittagong has been in the making for quite sometime. And now, the first poster of the film has been released. We are guessing the film should be releasing soon.

The poster is simple and effective, reminds you of Raavan’s first look. Two issues – too much text in such small space. And who uses so many exclamation marks!!!

Written by Bedabrata Pain & Shonali Bose, it  stars Manoj Bajpayee, Raj Kumar Yadav, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Barry John and Dibyendu Bhattacharya. To read the official synopsis and see the trailer of the film, click here.

The Dirty Picture is still going strong on buzz-o-meter. And here’s the latest trailer, the animated version. Best animated bit – 00:25 – 00:32.

Tip – Jahan Bakshi