Posts Tagged ‘Rani Mukherjee’

Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar and Anurag Kashyap – four filmmakers with distinct signature style of filmmaking. So it’s interesting that a film like Bombay Talkies managed to bring them together. Though the occasion is 100 years of Indian cinema, all four shorts don’t have a strong cinema connect.

Interestingly, we also have got four writers to write about these four films. Read the post, watch the films and do vote for your favourite short in our poll.

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Jahan Singh Bakshi on Karan Johar’s Ajeeb Dastaan Hai Yeh

Of the four shorts in Bombay Talkies, I was most interested in Karan Johar’s film. One couldn’t quite tell what it is about beyond the fact that there is a troubled marriage in an urban setting (between Rani and Randeep) and a blossoming friendship (between Rani and Saqib) that perhaps gets the plot rolling. Also, there was a delicous sense of irony in the fact that in an anthology including films by Anurag, Zoya and Dibakar, it was K-Jo’s that seemed like the most dark and bleak!

What Karan has delivered in Bombay Talkies is something I did not expect (and  I’m sure no one did). And with unexpected elan as well! Not just daring and bold, but equally graceful and poised- this is a Karan Johar you haven’t seen before. Or maybe he always had this in him but was waiting for the right time and a film where he did not have to wear the producer’s hat. I won’t reveal the plot of the film here (even though soon people would be talking about it) but when a filmmaker like Karan Johar makes a film like this, it isn’t just a film, it’s a massive statement. A few glass ceilings have been instantly shattered in a snap.

But let’s give Karan Johar, the guy everyone is probably looking at as the dark horse black sheep among these four, credit for more than just audaciousness. Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh grabs you by the collar and jolts you in its very first scene. But it instantly and nonchalantly moves on. This isn’t a Madhur Bhandarkar ‘shockfest’ or a film about ‘issues’.

What you get is an astutely made relationship drama- funny, candid, empathetic and in the end, wonderfully poignant. As I thought of the film later, I also appreciated how economically and smoothly it moved, everything is established so quickly and well. The characters are all flawed; there are no judgments made, no quick answers given, no simple resolutions. Apart from the odd cornball line in the beginning (‘Gale mein mangalsutra, aakhon mein kamasutra!‘- and that too from an intern to his boss!) the dialogue is smart and well written. And yes, no clumsy melodrama either. Maybe it’s the effect of shooting in ‘real’ locations! 😉

The performances are excellent and fearless. After trying too hard in NOKJ & Aiyaa, Rani Mukerji is back to doing what she does best- in Talaash, and now this. She is raw and wonderful, and the camera doesn’t look away from the love handles pouring out of her blouse or the freckles on her face. This is the sexiest and most beautiful she has looked in a long time. Saqib has cocky charm, but also a heart-breaking vulnerability. This is a role few young actors with Bollywood-Hero aspirations would take on. And Randeep Hooda surprises with a superbly reined-in performance, emotions carefully simmering under the surface.

As tempting as it is to discuss the story, I’d prefer to let everyone discover it on their own and react. This is surely going to be the most talked-about film of the four. And bagging second place in such illustrious company is no mean feat either. So many good directors stumble when it comes to short films- and well, here we have a filmmaker who’s so often reviled and not exactly known for brevity- making such a terrific one.

Mr Johar, you had my attention, now you have my curiosity. I’m curious to see where you go from here. You’ve taken the big leap, now don’t stop.

PS: You’ll be humming the ‘title song’ for a long, long time after the film. 🙂

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Varun Grover on Dibakar Banerjee’s स्टार

अगस्त 2011. हम रेखा झा से पटना में मिले थे. उन्होंने ‘गैंग्स ऑफ़ वासेपुर’ में ‘वुमनिया’ गीत गाया था. वो एक और गाने (तार बिजली) में कोरस की लड़कियों वाले ग्रुप में आई थीं. स्नेहा खानवलकर को उनकी आवाज़ अच्छी लगी और उन्हें अलग से पूरा गाना मिल गया. वापसी के समय उनके पति (झा बाबू) मुझे अपनी टैक्सी में छोड़ने आये. उनका पटना में ही भाड़े की टैक्सी का बिजनेस है. रास्ते में उन्होंने बताया कि वो १९९०/९१ के आस-पास एक बार बंबई आये थे; हीरो बनने. “उस समय अगर कोई हमको बोल देता कि दस मंजिल से कूद जाओ और हम तुम्हें हीरो बना देंगे तो हम कूद जाते.” मैंने पूछा “तो किसी ने बोला क्या?” उन्होंने बताया काफी दिन बंबई में भटकने के बाद उन्हें एक जुगाड़ मिला. बाज़ीगर की शूट चल रही थी…लोनावला साइड कहीं पे. वो वहां पहुँच गए और यही ताव (कूद जायेंगे वाला) सब प्रोडक्शन वालों को सुनाने लगे. एक ने कह दिया, यह नदी है सामने छोटी सी, इसको तैर के पार कर लो तो किसी एक सीन में हीरो के अगल-बगल कहीं खड़े होने को मिल जाएगा. जनाब कूद गए. तैरना नहीं आता था, फिर भी कूद गए. किसी और को उन्हें पकड़ के निकालना पड़ा. झा बाबू के मुताबिक़ उनकी इस हिम्मत को देखकर सेट पर मौजूद (वीनस वाले) रतन जैन का दिल पिघल गया और उन्होंने झा जी को एक हफ्ते बाद बंबई में अपने दफ्तर बुलाया. झा जी एक हफ्ते तक सडकों पर रहे, बस स्टाप पर सोये, पर रतन जैन से मिलने का दिन आने से पहले ही उनका सारा सामान, जिसमें रतन जैन के दफ्तर का पता भी था, चोरी हो गया. उन्हें वापस पटना लौटना पड़ा. हमेशा के लिए.

कट टू – जनवरी 2013. एक अवार्ड फंक्शन में रेखा झा वुमनिया के लिए nominate हुयीं. झा जी भी उनके साथ बंबई आये. यशराज स्टूडियो के अन्दर बैठ के उस दुनिया को देखा जिसके लिए वो कूद जाना चाहते थे. मुझे सुपरमैन ऑफ़ मालेगांव के शायर फरोग़ जाफरी याद आ गए. (“मैं कब से बंबई की तरफ चल रहा हूँ. मालेगांव से बंबई बस एक रात का सफ़र है. पर ये रात ख़त्म नहीं होती.”) झा जी की छलांग भी 22-साल तक लगती ही रही.

कट टू – मई 2013. दिबाकर बनर्जी की फिल्म ‘स्टार’ में पुरंदर (नवाज़ुद्दीन सिद्दीकी, हमेशा की तरह बवाल) भी ऐसी ही एक छलांग के बीच में कहीं है. और पुरंदर की छलांग इतनी सीधी भी नहीं है. वो कई दिशाओं में कूद रहा है. या हवा में कहीं बीच में लटक रहा है. दिबाकर बनर्जी की हर अच्छी फिल्म की हर खासियत इस २०-२५ मिनट की फिल्म में मिल जायेगी – बहुत ही कडुवा सा sense of humor; social issues पर एक तीखी नज़र; खतरनाक casting (हमारे drunk-शायर और असल ज़िन्दगी में बहुत ही sincere, assistant director कार्तिक कृष्णन का इस से अच्छा इस्तेमाल नहीं हो सकता था, नवाज़ की पत्नी के रोल में एक गज़ब की नयी एक्टर (sorry नाम नहीं देख पाया end credits के गीले कचरे से भी बदतर गाने के चक्कर में), और सदाशिव अमरापुरकर की धांसू वापसी); कहने को एक बहुत ही गहरी बात; और एक गांड-फाड opening scene.

बल्कि अगर दिबाकर की फिल्मों का एक सबसे बड़ा recurring structural-motif ढूँढा जाए तो वो यही होगा कि उनकी हर फिल्म का पहला सीन पूरी फिल्म का सार होता है. और अपने आप में एक complete short-film भी. LSD में short-film या meta-film का element deliberately बहुत साफ़ था, लेकिन बाकी हर फिल्म में (‘ओये लक्की..’ में तो बहुत ही गज़ब तरह से) पहले सीन को लिखने की मेहनत साफ़ दिखती है. Shanghai पर हज़ार debate हुए कि फिल्म किसके बारे में थी लेकिन दिबाकर के motif से जाएँ तो फिल्म का पहला सीन साफ़ कर देता है कि फिल्म मामा और भग्गू के बारे में ही थी.

और ‘स्टार’ का पहला सीन ‘ओये लक्की’ की टक्कर का है. बस उनके पिछले काम से काफी अलग, (के.के. के शब्द) “फुल बंगाली सिनेमा है रे!” और सिर्फ पहला सीन ही नहीं, क्योंकि पूरी फिल्म सत्यजित रे की लघु कथा ‘पोटोल बाबू फिल्म स्टार’ से है, तो बहुत जगह रे की छाप साफ़ दिखती है. (मुझे एक जगह ‘नायक’ दिखी और एक जगह ‘महानगर’. और एक जगह एक जानवर में रे बाबू की २-३ लघु कथाएँ.)

फिल्म के बारे में कोई spoilers नहीं लिख रहा. लेकिन बस इतना ही कि Bombay Talkies की चारों फिल्मों का पैसा मेरे लिए इस अकेली में ही वसूल हो गया. (करण जोहर की फिल्म भी शानदार लगी वैसे.) नवाज़, दिबाकर बनर्जी, और सत्यजित रे – इससे आगे कोई क्या मांगेगा?

Update: अभी अभी एक जुगाड़ से नवाज़ की पत्नी का रोल करने वाली एक्टर का नाम पता चल गया. मराठी थियेटर की एक्टर – शुभांगी भुजबल. और ये भी पता चला कि वो खुद ऐसी ही एक चाल में पली-बढ़ी जैसी फिल्म में दिखाई गयी है.

(If you have difficulty reading it in Hindi, scroll down and read its English transalation)

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Kartik Krishnan on Zoya Akhtar’s Sheila Ki Jawani

It’s more Taare Zameen Par than Pankh. The 6 yr old’s desires stifled by the ‘Sharma ji’ type moochad father with shades of Naseer-Ishan Nair (the fat dancing kid from Monsoon Wedding) conflict. मेरे-Parents-चाहते-हैं-मैं-आम-खाऊँ-जबकि-मुझे-केले-पसंद-हैं is the dillema/drama. The sexuality theme is not explored (or maybe I’m reading too much into it).

The film stealthily enters the kid(s) world and takes you along. Not the most ‘fresh’ stories but again very well done, non-melodramatic realistic treatment by Zoya Akhtar (with Excel Ent Production Design from LBC not Rock On). The casting of the kids and mom is spot on. And the relationship between the siblings could’ve been autobiographical, which is probably why it is so heart tugging despite being no Children of Heaven. They help each other out in the ‘trying circumstances’ and unlike the एक दूसरे की चुगली करने वाले बच्चे, would probably be best ‘friends for life’. The message of the film is not so much ‘Follow Your Dreams’ but more ‘Follow Your Dreams लेकिन शान्पट्टी से’. Slightly underwhelming coming from Zoya Akhtar but it seems her most ‘personal’ film (like KJo’s and AK’s short films). ‘शुरू होते ही ख़त्म हो जाती है’, ‘3rd Act है ही नही, setup ही setup  है’ were the common refrain but the climactic performance with the arresting cutaways is itself worth the price of ticket itself.

The pillow conversations at night between the siblings took me back to my childhood days, and that’s why may be I’m being a little too lenient unlike rest. ‘मानता हूँ Cliche है Sir लेकिन Conviction से किया जाए तो आज भी work करता है !’

P.S – An aside – On the occasion of 100 yrs of Indian cinema celebration – here are two of the most brilliant kids performances in recent cinematic history for you – this & this.

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Neeraja Sahasrabudhe on Anurag Kashyap’s Murabba

Twice during the film, I was reminded of this funny inimitable character from my childhood. There was a short period of time, when we used to get dabbawala food at home in Banaras (Yes! there are dabbawalas in Banaras too). That man had a wild imagination. From the stories about owning the golden temple land to getting his mobile phone repaired in 2 lakhs (back in 2000! well, that sounds ridiculous even now), there was no end to his cock-and-bull stories, and there was a new किस्सा everyday.

The sequence where Vijay is regaling his fellow travelers in the train reminded me of many such characters from Banaras. जैसे दिल्ली में गाली देना सच में गाली देना नहीं होता, वैसे ही पूर्वांचल में गप्प मारना झूठ बोलना नहीं होता। Another one from a train journey is that of a group biharis…I remember looking at my brother and suppressing a giggle when one of the men said “ये बहुत संघर्शेबुल (sangharsh-able) हैं “. ऐसी बहुत सी सुनी-सुनाई कहानियां हैं अपने यहाँ के amazing गप्पी लोगों की, जो याद करके भी हँसी आ जाती है. Anyway, the point here being that the film captures that character and that space very well. For me, this was the best part of the film.

The film is about a young man traveling from Allahabad to Mumbai to meet Amitabh Bachchan so that he can offer the superstar a piece of Murabba that his mother has made. This is his father’s “last wish”. As far as the theme of celebrating 100 years of Indian cinema goes, among all four shorts, this film comes closest to capture the passionate frenzy that bollywood has created among the masses over the years. As usual Kashyap get the milieu right but the punchline is not strong enough to make you fall in love with the film.  Unfortunately the film goes downhill as soon as Mr. Bachchan makes an appearance. There are moments that made me nostalgic and made me chuckle but overall the film was a bit of a disappointment. But inspite of all the shortcomings, I am sure all the fanboys/girls out there who have done crazy things for the stars they love, will connect to the film.

PS: The other thing that I noticed is that when Vijay’s father asked him where he was, Vijay replies “मेल में थे”. The people in and around Allahanad always call the kumbh mela as just “mela” whereas it is the outsider (mostly the पढ़ा – लिखा वर्ग) that always calls in “kumbh” or “kumbh mela”. Full marks to AK for that.

*****

The film ends with an atrocious music video which seems to be have been produced on MS Paint. Though the initial montage of yesteryear actors make it look slightly better. As a friend pointed out, wish they had just used the opening credits of Luck By Chance in the end credits here. That would have been enough.

And do vote for your favourite short. You can vote for 2 films.

UPDATE – 3rd May, 2013

(Since many people have been asking for English translation of Varun’s post on Star, here it is. We still suggest that you try in Hindi first, Do “Control +”, make the font bigger and it becomes easy. If not, here you go)

August 2011. We met Rekha Jha in Patna. She would sing ‘Womaniya’ for ‘Gangs of Wasseypur’ a few days later. She was part of the group of girls we had called for chorus singing in ‘Taar Bijli Se’ song. Sneha Khanwalkar liked her voice so much that she got offered a full song to herself. On my way back from Patna, her husband (Jha babu) dropped me to the airport in his taxi. He has a small taxi-rental business in Patna. He started talking and told me ‘I had gone to Bombay sometime in 1990/91; to become a hero. If at that time, somebody had told me to jump from a 10-storeyed building to get a role in films, I’d have done that.’ I asked – ‘So did somebody say that to you?’ He said after wasting many days in Bombay, he somehow landed one contact which took him to the film shoot of ‘Baazigar’ in Lonavla or around.  On the sets of Baazigar, he again started bragging that he can jump from a building to get a role, and some production hand dared him to cross the small river nearby. He promised Jha Babu a role (of being in the same frame as the film’s hero) if he finished the swim across the river. Jha babu jumped in the river without a thought. He didn’t know how to swim, but jumped anyway. He had to be rescued by some locals else he was sure to drown. Seeing the commotion and young man’s stupid desperation, Ratan Jain (Tips owner) was impressed. He gave Jha babu his card and asked him to come over at the Bombay office a week later. The whole coming week Jha ji spent on the roads, sleeping on bus stops, but before the big day arrived his whole luggage including the address of Ratan Jain was stolen. He returned back home to Patna, never to attempt his Bombay dreams again.

Cut to: January 2013. An award function nominated Rekha Jha for singing ‘Womaniya’. Jha babu came with her to Bombay, first time since he left it in 1991. Sitting inside Yashraj Studios, he finally saw the unreal world he wanted to jump from a high-rise for, up-close and live. I was reminded of Farogue Jafari, the poet and writer of/from Supermen of Malegaon – “Main kab se Bombay ki taraf chal raha hoon. Malegaon se Bombay bas ek raat ka safar hai. Par ye raat khatam nahin hoti.”  (I have been walking towards Bombay for a long time. Malegaon to Bombay is just an overnight journey. But this night is too long.) Jha babu’s jump also lasted for 22-years.

Cut to: May 2013. Purandar (Nawazuddin Siddiqui, terrific as always) in Dibakar Banerjee’s segment ‘Star’ is also in the middle of one such night/jump. But Purandar’s jump is not so simple. He is jumping in many directions simultaneously. Or may be he just thinks he is jumping while being magically, depressingly hanging static mid-air, like a cartoon dog from Tom and Jerry. The 25 minute film has all the best elements of all the good Dibakar Banerjee films. A very wry sense of humor, a sharp comment on social issues (right from the very first scene that stays on long enough for you to attempt decode its meaning),  pitch-perfect casting (our drunk-shaayar and a sincere assistant director Kartik Krishnan couldn’t have been cast in a better role, the lady playing Nawaz’s wife Shubhangi Bhujbal is a gem of a find from Marathi theatre though her name gets drowned in that horribly composed and shot end-credits song, and Sadashiv Amrapurkar’s comeback to cinema alone is worthy enough for this film to be made), a new world to explore, and a kick-ass opening scene – all DB strengths are at their top-game in ‘Star’.

In fact, a recurring structural-motif of DB’s films has been a meta-film like opening scene that has the sly-synopsis and tone of the entire film you’re going to watch. If you go back to any of his film after finishing it, and watch the opening scene again, you’ll be surprised by the number of hidden-meanings it contained. LSD had the short-film/meta-film element deliberately carved out but even the rest of his films have a masterful opening scene (OLLO has the strongest one). Shanghai generated many debates, chief among them was who the film ACTUALLY is about, and going by this motif the opening scene of the film clearly says that the film is about Bhaggu and Mama, the two ‘killers’.

And the first scene in ‘Star’ is as powerful and poetic as Dibakar has ever written/shot. Though in a different league/tone altogether (as Kartik Krishnan said ‘Full Bengali cinema hai re!’). And not just the opening scene, the entire film bears a noticeable stamp of Satyajit Ray as the screenplay is adapted from a Satyajit ray short-story (“Potol Babu Film Star”). I could spot a hat-tip to ‘Nayak’ (appearance of Sadashiv Amrapurkar scene), and another to ‘Mahanagar’ (working wife and daily memorabilia for child), and a pet-animal Purandar keeps reminded me of a couple more short-stories of Ray. (Fascination with abnormal/surreal animals/plants is a recurring motif in Ray’s stories for children.)

Keeping it spoiler-free so can’t write much more. Just enough to say that DB’s ‘Star’ alone is worth the price of admission for Bombay Talkies. (While K-Jo’s film too is as good as they come.) Nawaz+Dibakar+Satyajit Ray – and the sum is greater than the parts!

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Going by ReviewGang‘s calculation, the average rating for Sachin Kundalkar’s Aiyyaa is a poor 4.5/10. But almost every reviewer mentioned it that Kundalkar explored many interesting things in the film which never came together. Also, everyone felt that it was too long. On twitter, the most common word used to describe the film was “bizzare”. That made me more curious to find out how “Gandha” became such a wakdaa. I still haven’t seen the film but surprisingly got a post in my inbox which was on similar lines. So over to Shvetal Vyas-Pare and her take on the film and its Marathi original Gandha.

– @cilemasnob

Aiyyaa is a difficult film to like. It can be easily dismissed as having no plot, dragging out one idea for too long and then jumping into a quick conclusion. The tone does not help either – it is neither entirely realistic nor entirely parodied. The actors seem to constantly shifting from subtle to over-the-top, which makes them irritating – both as characters and as actors. However, I’ve been thinking about the film. It hasn’t grown on me, nor will I claim that it is actually a wonderful film that has been misunderstood. I want to use this blog post to think through certain things that I found interesting about the film, and about my reactions to it.

The premise of any story can be outrageous, and it is up to individual viewers whether the story resonates with them or not. Logically, it is absurd to suppose that a wife would not know her husband in a different get-up (Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi) or that a man could pass off a concentration camp as a massive game (Life is Beautiful). I’ve heard people tear the former apart while waxing eloquent about the latter. I’m sure there are also people out there who love Rab Ne… and don’t mind its logical inconsistency. I’m not saying that the two films are at par with each other. The point I am trying to make is that both films accept seemingly outrageous premises as givens and go ahead with their narratives. As I strongly feel that films/books should be allowed to tell the stories they want to rather than those that seem more logical or natural to any individual viewer/reader, an outrageous premise rarely bothers me.

Aiyyaa too has a premise that seems illogical, that of a woman who is attracted to the way a man smells. Come to think of it, smell is difficult to convey on film. You have to rely on familiarity and on audience experience. Like all human experiences, smell is subjective. It is difficult to explain the power of the smell of the mud after the first rains in India to someone who’s never smelt it. It is easier to make films about colour, about touch, about sensation and Aiyyaa too brings in colours – yellow for Rani and blue for Prithvi – and uses them to play around with notions of smell. Perhaps they thought that colours would make smells more tangible. Aiyyaa also reminds one of the odour that one so completely takes for granted in India, showing public toilets and garbage lying open on the streets. Who in India has not scrunched one’s nose, and then passed on?

The other major motif of the film, intertwined with smell, is desire. Meenakshi desires Surya, and is somehow convinced that he is not the monster that everyone else thinks him to be. There is no logical reason behind this belief, and part of the disconnect you feel with her character is because of how illogical her behaviour is. Yet it is good to see the woman rather than the man as the desiring subject in Bollywood cinema, though of late this has become more common. Dreamum Wakeupum (and Ijjajat papad!) are pure genius on the part of Amitabh Bhattacharya. All those thrusting, pumping, heaving dance steps in all those Hindi films over the ages – they were all metaphorically sexual, and this song dispenses with the metaphor.

Another major problem area in the film is the ‘falling in love’ narrative. Meenakshi tries to speak to Surya often, but never actually gets to do so. Until one miraculous evening, wherein they talk, the mystery about him is solved, they confess their feelings, and get engaged to one another, all in the space of one evening. This is again something that induces impatience – how illogical can you get? Behind this impatience however is the assumption that other things that are shown in more realistic narratives are more ‘natural’, whereas they just have become more sedimented in our minds as ways of being in love, ways of performing romance.

Aiyyaa juxtaposes desire, as represented through smell, and the stifling nature of social life in India, as indicated through the odour of the garbage that haunts Meenakshi even in her dreams. The film finds some subtle moments here and there – walking around the clean, rose-garden terrace of a man whom Meenakshi does not find attractive does nothing for her. This garden of red roses must presumably smell great, and brings in notions of conventional romance, but she is entranced neither by the smell nor the appearance of this ideal space because this is not the man for her.

The Marathi original, Gandha, is actually a combination of 3 different stories, each dealing with the motif of smell, and the story that goes on to become Aiyyaa is crisper, told in half an hour. To stretch out the narrative, Aiyyaa adds a younger brother and a rival suitor to the mix, as well as making the boy Tamilian and putting Meenakshi through the task of learning a new language and a different culture. Not just that, the friend of the heroine becomes more bizarre.As ideas, all of them are interesting, though some translate well and some not so well.

Gandha is not as quirky as Aiyyaa and captures its particular Marathi milieu well. In many ways, it is less imaginative than Aiyyaa, perhaps because it is under less pressure in terms of time, and so is more straightforward in its storytelling. Amruta Subhash does an excellent job of conveying the vulnerability as well as the charm of the protagonist. Rani Mukherjee does a good job, but it is easier to understand and relate to Veena in Gandha than to Meenakshi in Aiyyaa.

What seems a small change in the script from the Marathi to the Hindi version brings to light one of the biggest silences of Bollywood cinema. In both versions, the hero is a painter by day and works at an incense factory by night. However, in the Marathi version he had done a diploma in repairing refrigerators and works at the factory to make money and pay for his art education. In the Hindi version the hero is the owner of the factory, left to him by his father, and works alongside his employees. A Bollywood hero cannot be a simple employee, he has to at least own the factory. After all, how could he think about romance otherwise? As if those who repair refrigerators do not have love stories of their own.

Ultimately, my reaction to Aiyyaa is as much about my expectations as about the film itself. I like films to stick to tones and genres. The realistic feel of a college library – the old computers, the library membership cards, the dust on the books – was good. The presence of an overtly sexualised librarian, however, was jarring – such a person would never exist in such a space. But do films have to necessarily be either realistic, or fantasy as accepted by Bollywood convention (i.e. either melodrama or a fantasy of excess, a la Karan Johar or Salman Khan), or totally bizarre? Can a film not be a little bit of each?

The attempt to make a film that is a little bit of each is jarring, but I think that it is a brave attempt. It would not have been that difficult to make Aiyyaa a bit more like Vicky Donor and English Vinglish: emphasise the Marathi – Tamil aspects of both families, show them as more lovable and less quirky, remove the bizarre, give the hero-heroine more conversations, show the heroine as the underdog who finally convinces her family that she has the right to choose her own life partner and so on. I do not think Anurag Kashyap and co. are stupid enough to have not thought of this alternative, safer option. It would have been an easier option to sell too, and that is often a big criterion that drives the way films get made. While I do not quite like the final product thatAiyyaa is, I do admire the fact that they made it their way – bizarre, quirky and idiosyncratic.

(PS – You can watch Gandha with English subtitles here)

(PS – A different version of the write-up was first posted on Shvetal Vyas-Pare’s blog)

The BFI London Film Festival has unveiled its complete line-up for 2012. And there are quite a few Indian films in the list.

– The only film with desi connect which is in official competition section is Deepa Mehta’s Midnight’s Children. Click here for more details.

– After its TIFF premiere, Anand Gandhi’s Ship Of Theseus is going to compete for “The Sutherland Award” in The First Feature competition category. To know more about the film click here and here.

– Mira Nair’s The Reluctant Fundamentalis had its world premiere at the Venice Festival. Now it will have its Gala in the “Dare” segment at LFF. More details about the film here.

– After Cannes and Toronto, Peddlers continues its fest run with screening in “Dare” segment of the fest. Click here and here for more details.

– Rani Mukherjee and Prithviraj starrer Aiyya will have its world premiere at the fest. This is Sachin Kundalkar first Hindi feature film.

– Prakash Jha’s Chakravyush will have a Gala in the Thrill segment and Satyajit Ray’s Mahanagar will have a screening in “Treasures” seection.

– The official website of the festival also lists two more films in Indian segment – Save Your Legs and Sri Lankan production With you, Without You.

– To know more about the film festival, films and the screening schedule, click here.

The film stars Vidya Balan & Rani Mukherjee, has music by Amit Trivedi and has been produced by UTV. Story ? Well, the title says it all. Will put out the official synopsis soon.

As if one Shah Rukh Khan wasnt enough, now we have a doggie version too! Awwwww…wwwwful! Or is this the Aamir’s doggie who was named after King Khan ? Koochi Koochie Hota Hai is the animated (read doggie) version of Karan Johar’s Kuch Kuch Hota hai.

Its directed by Tarun Mansukhani and has voiceovers by Shah Rukh Khan, Kajol, Rani Mukherjee, Sanjay Dutt, Riteish Deshmukh, Simi Agarwal, Anupam Kher, Uday Chopra and Sajid Khan. Guess who is not here ? Salman Khan. Missing In Action. And you dont need to be genius to guess the reason.

And whoever thought about the “Koochie Koochie” title, needs to get into doggie avatar soon. Woof teri ada, woof tera badan, woof woof tera ya title! The trailer looks, sounds and feels terrible! And more so, because in a year when UP makes it to the Oscar nomination in the Best Film category, we are still rewinding back to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. Spare us. We are not buying the tickets! Feels like its made for Under-5 category! Take a look.

  

2009 – The Master of Feel Bad started the year delivering his career’s first hit and the Master of Feel Good Cinema ended the year with a recording breaking monster hit! Aha, not that bad if we count only the boundaries. After the musical notes of the year, we sat down to discuss the filmy notes of the year. Here it is – the good, the bad and the fuglies!

1. Best Credit Roll – If ever a credit roll said something so simply and superbly, this is it. Luck By Chance. Also great debut by Zoya Akhtar.

2. Anurag Kashyap turned musical and how! More than a dozen songs and we discovered Amit Trivedi.

3. Anurag Kashyap – 2009 belongs to only one director. Dev D, Gulaal and even Paanch finally got a release, you know where. Whats more, he finished shooting his next film That Girl In Yellow Boots in just 13 days. Aur bolo ?

PS : The same Anurag Kashyap wrote the dialogues for Kurbaan ! Strange bedfellows remained strange.

4. Nobody, we repeat nobody, can save Harman/Hurrman/Harmann/Harrman/Whatever it is Baweja.

5. Wooden Film of the Year – New York. Three good looking woods with zero expression.

6. Ranbir Kapoor – Dude of the year! He is not only working with best directors of bollywood but delivering his best too. Cool & confused, fool & romantic, middle class & lost – he did it all.

7.Imran Luck Khan – The poster boy of 2008 is light years behind Ranbir. He only talks cool and acts still uncool.  Competition, whats that ?

8. Imtiaz Ali has only one story to tell. The journey of cool and confused lovers on the verge of marriage. First time, they were about to mary. Second time, they were close to marriage. This time, they finally married and then solved their problem. More here and here.

9. Samir Karnik got money to make one more movie. Who ? Where ? Why ? How ?

10. Rani Mukherjee’s career is over. Hadippa!

11. Multiplex cinema & hits are not everything. Its a big myth. Ask the makers of Wanted. Or is it only Salman Khan ?

12. And if its Salman Khan, why Main Aur Mrs Khanna packed up in just two days ? As they say, nobody knows anything. And what was UTV smoking ? 

13. Overrated Gimmicky shit of the year – Paa. More ramblings here.

14. R Balki should stick to making tv commercials. One idea and thats it. He also told the same story again. Smart & dying child bring lovers back together. Age gap somewhere. Check.

15. Akshay Kumar’s bubble busted and how!. He failed everywhere. Chandni Chowk, China, Hollywood, under water, inside or outside Tasveer.

16. The Invisible Director – Who is Anurag Singh ? Does anyone knows him ? The man who put the last nail in the coffin of Rani’s acting career. Hadippa!

17. Sanjay Gupta and gang (read Suparn) are still copying. Even the promos! Now the Unknown ones! More here.

18. Suresh Nair – the only writer to have two big films releases on the same friday. Aladin & London Dreams and both flopped.

19. Underrated Film – Sooni Tarporevala’s delightful Little Zizou, where all the possible parsis united to turn bollywood into pollywood! ( Missed Barah Aana, Mohandas)

20. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – Sunil Shetty got an award for acting in Anant Mahadevan’s Red Alert – the War Within. Believe it, nobody has seen the film yet.

21. Most Subtle Expression of the year – In Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra’s Delhi 6, a man lands up with a mirror to show your andar ka kala bandar! Beat this!

22. Nagesh Kuknoor – Dont give him big budgests and big stars. He will go cuckoo-noor!

23. Vishal Bhardwaj delivered again. Five films in a row. And showed us Amole Gupte – the actor. More here.

24. Ajab Prem ki Gazab Kahani tried too hard to be Andaz Apna Apna. Insanity happens! You cant plan and design it.

25. ENG Filmmaker -Madhur Bhandarkar continued his expose and it finally flopped.

26. Smirk & Smug of the Year – Vivek Oberoi in Kurbaan. It was the ROFLOL film of the year where terrorism was wrapped in chiffon saree.

27. RajKumar Hirani lied to all of us and made the same film again. As a friend said, its Munnabhai B Tech. More here.

28. Couple Of The Year – Jaideep Sahni & Shimit Amin who delivered Rocket Singh – Sales Man of the Year! More here.

29. The only U-25 who proved us wrong – Ayan Mukherjee. Wake up Sid. Confident debut. More here.

30. Only 12 scenes, not 12 roles – Ask Priyanka Chopra. Easily the best performance of the year. Length doesnt matter, performanace counts. Vishal did it. Gowariker failed.

Bravery Awards  – Aftab Shivdasani turned writer and producer with Aao Wish Karein.

Someone directed a film titled Jai-Veeru!

Abhijeet Sawant turned actor.

LOL Titles Of The Year  – They said it all. No explanations required.

Kal Kisne Dekha

Do Knot Disturb

Fruit & Nuts

London Nightmares

Blue-s

Aa Dekhein Zara

Dhoondte Rah Jaoge

Ek Se Bure Do

(Tough) Luck

Shorkut – The Con Is On

PS. ENG – Electronic New Gathering.

Coming up next –  what to expect in 2010!

Dil Bole Hadippa5Once, she was the smartest actress around. In good boks of all the three Khans – Shah Rukh, Salman and Aamir. A rare achievement. Add to that, closeness to Bachchans – both Junior and Senior. And Karan Johar by her side too. What else does an actor needs to stay in bollywood ? Good films ? Naah!

Rani Mukherjee then slowly moved closer to Yashraj Films (Read Aditya Chopra!). Rumours about her marriage to Aditya Chopra started making headlines almost everyday. And now she doesnt have a single film in her kitty! Dil Bole Hadippa was her last bet!

In today’s  Mumbai Mirror Subhash K Jha has analysed Rani’s career with great quotes from people who have worked with her. But none of them have been named. Lets see if we can get the names. You can read the full article here or scroll down. The names to be guessed are in bold.

Though she may not show it, she is a brilliant performer after all, but Rani Mukerji is at the moment the industry’s most disappointed and heart-broken actor.

Rani saw Dil Bole Hadippa! as a comeback vehicle, thinking that cricket bats and bikini tops are a potent blend. Too bad they blended to create a nightmare. Yash Raj Films even had the gall to take this abominable piece of cinema to the Toronto Film Festival this month.

“What were they thinking?,” a reputed filmmaker and Rani’s friend wondered after watching Dil Bole Hadippa! “The basic premise is lifted from the Amanda Bynes 2006 film, She’s The Man. They’ve replaced soccer with some aimless cricket. And Rani? Same expressions, same laughter… She even cries in exactly the same way as she did in Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. By the way, is she an exclusive YRF heroine now?”

But even if we let Toronto be, closer home, signs of Rani’s downfall were present for all to see since a long time. Gradually and almost systematically, Rani isolated herself completely from the film industry. Today, she is a far cry from the Ms Congeniality she used to be in her Bunty aur Babli days with Abhishek Bachchan. She used to be everyone’s favourite but that only led to trying to please everybody and Rani is now neither here, nor there. She found refuge in one banner, which the industry is now referring to as her home banner.

Whether Rani is dating Aditya Chopra or not is irrelevant at the moment. Even to her closest friends, Rani has been denying wedding rumours since the last two years. However, the not-so-hushed talks about vexing her co-stars, particularly females, are too frequent and alarming to be dismissed as mere back-biting. The complaints began when she was working on Laaga Chunari Mein Daag. Co-stars talk about how she refused to take instructions even from the veteran director Pradeep Sarkar. “Rani would look bored while Pradeepda would explain the scenes to her. Obviously, she thought she knew it all. That’s a sure-shot sign for any artiste’s downfall,” said an actress.

The growing observations about Rani’s know-it-all attitude were corroborated by another filmmaker who made a fiasco-fantasy with her. “She just wouldn’t listen. When I’d be explaining a scene, she’d look away or look distracted as if I was boring her with my instructions,” said the filmmaker.

Rani’s smug attitude has reached the pinnacle of absurdity with Dil Bole Hadippa!, where the absence of a director is palpable. A senior character actor who has worked with Rani has often said, “A few years ago when we were shooting, a small-time theatre actor was supposed to tease her on the streets as a part of a scene. And guess what. Rani screamed at the actor for doing his job too well.”

Within the precincts of YRF, Rani is secretly called Maalkin or Madam. Outside the banner, Rani is totally seen as a YRF heroine. Even directors like Karan Johar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who have collaborated with her with rewarding results, have no intention of working with her again. For the lack of a choice a newcomer Anuraag Singh was assigned the task of directing Rani in her self-indulgent trip to aborted glory.

Rani poured her heart and soul into Hadippa and remained confident it would be a historic hit whenever it was released. But history is not made consciously. It just happens. So do Waterloos.

A high-profile director who has fallen out with Rani said, “It’s a pity but YRF’s downward streak coincided with her apparently exclusive association with the banner. They are remaking their own films, whereas Rani needs directors who bring out the new facets in her. And Yash Raj is certainly not doing that. Rani had once said, ‘Why should I look for quality work outside Yash Raj when I’m getting the best roles of my career with them? Am I mad?’”

After Dil Bole Hadippa! the argument, say cynics, will be clean-bowled. For all practical purposes, Rani is now caught in a full-blown mid-career crisis. In the entertainment industry, equations change every Friday. Younger faces have taken over. Today Rani may have her buddies from the industry who meet her like they used to, but no one is in a particular rush to sign her, even if she now decides to look for work outside YRF’s comfort zone.

Hmm. Quite interesting! So here is the list….

1) A reputed filmmaker and Rani’s friend

2) Co-stars / An actress  ( from Laga Chunari Mein Daag)

3) Another filmmaker who made a fiasco-fantasy

4) A senior character actor

5) A high-profile director who has fallen out with Rani

Out of the five, Number 3 seems to be the easiest! Place your bets for other four!