Thursday, 31 December 2009

Movie Review: 3 IDIOTS: Well-intended, humourous & over the top


There is a scene in Director Rajkumar Hirani's last release Lage Raho Munnabhai where jail inmates are shown clapping and cheering Munna and Jhanavi's reunion - an absurd, out-of-place scene that is supposed to add sweetness to the film than go with the story. 3 Idiots is filled with too many such moments, be it Raju's miracle treatment, Mona's baby delivery scene (grating), Boman Irani's character or the risque pant-dropping scenes. The intended message still holds though.

With some plot elements and lead characters based on Chetan Bhagat's novel Five Point Someone, 3 Idiots does have its heartening moments. Hirani's innovations provide an endearing appeal to the characters. The question about the Indian education system does linger, there is genuine humour and great acting from all the cast led by Aamir Khan, Kareena Kapoor, R Madhavan and Sharman Joshi.

All said and done, 3 Idiots is a very good entertainer. 

Thursday, 24 December 2009

vacation

The thing about vacations is that there is a dark blackness before it and a dark blackness after...- THE IDLER MAGAZINE

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Movie Review: AVATAR 3D: Quality, if not classic cinema


Once the 3-D novelty wears off and the seen-it-all special effects, Avatar is an action adventure that doesn't disappoint you. It does awe you at times, the Peter Jackson shadow of what he started in that landmark trilogy The Lord of the Rings and repeated in some sequences of King Kong is omnipresent.

James Cameron's AVATAR stars Sam Worthington as an handicapped ex-marine who is called in by the US army to remotely control a cloned body of a Na'vi - an indigenous tribe that resides in Pandora forest. Greed is at play here, the paraplegic must intrude the tribe, know its secrets and help evacuate the tribe so that Pandora's rich resources are exploited. The Avatar has other ideas though.

For its action sequences, the detailing of Pandora and its creatures and the magnificent execution, Avatar is certainly a watch. Do not expect a Titanic though - somewhere in all that glitz, a little heart is missing.
Still, there is no denying that in 3-D, Avatar is an unmissable cinematic experience.

Movie Review: PAA: Amitabh ki jai ho!

In his second film as director, R Balki shows his knack for comic lines and situations and again, as in his directorial debut Cheeni Kum, a weakness for the emotionally-heavy moments. 

Paa meanders through its story of a child suffering from a fatal disease - Progeria, and the bringing together of his parents - the father depicted sketchily and unconvincingly as a young upright politician, and the mother - a gynecologist.

In all its roughness and rawness, Paa's strength is Amitabh Bachchan - in a daring role of a 13 year-old child, complete with a squeaky voice, effective make up, and ready wit, Bachchan probably delivers  the best performance in his career and is the reason you should catch the film in a theatre near you. Art is ageless, they say...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Movie Review: Rocket Singh: Salesman of the year: Well-intentioned, sloppy situations


Rocket Singh - Salesman of the year is not without its loose ends and emotional baggage. Director Shimit Amin brings to life the tension of a computer sales office - employees crying over targets, sly seniors, an efficient receptionist, a computer voyeur, looming bosses and in the midst of it all, the fresher - Harpreet Singh Bedi.

Stirring an entertaining cocktail of a drama out of the available elements, Rocket Singh...goes to unexpected places without ever stumbling on a needless song or any stretched love angle. It couldn't have been as watchable if not for the performances - Ranbir Kapooor (growing as an actor) is spot on with his role, underplaying his Sikh character, D Santosh is hilarious as the sleazy computer operator, while Gauhar Khan is all spontaneity as the receptionist.
Stretched and contrived,but straight from the heart.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Movie Review: Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani: Silly, unpolished comedy


You laugh, yes, it is all silly, lovely, stupid, childish and filmy and stays that way till the end credits roll. Ajab Prem Ki Ghazab Kahani sticks to the Hindi film masala and derives most of its jokes from silliness and bizarre situations, sometimes just for the sake of mirth, intelligence be damned.

The lead performances saves this titanic from sinking. Ranbir Kapoor dazzles as Prem, you can only enjoy the effortlessness with which he holds your attention; Katrina Kaif is competent as the innocent stereotypical girl Jenny; Darshan Jariwala and Smita Jaykar are splendid as Prem's parents.

The gags never abate so you seldom have the time to think "What the hell is going on?" After all the popcorn-crunching and samosa-gulping, Ajab Prem Ki... is a failed attempt to recreate the magic of   Director Rajkumar Santoshi's 1994 madcap cult classic Andaz Apna Apna. It just doesn't work that way though. A bearable one-time watch. 

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Movie Review: KURBAAN: Stuck between thrills and topicality


With a storyline that is so similar to this year's Kabir Khan drama New York that it couldn't be a coincidence, Kurbaan is a wannabe thriller. The banging at the front door, the eerie silence slicing a gun battle, the paper hidden under the coffee cup, director Rensil D'Silva does have the flair for edgy moments. Religious banter just about drags our attention, for they merely form a background for the drama. Never are we let deep into the minds of the terrorists, some clever abrupt lines does give us a glimpse of why the characters behave in a particular manner, but it is never satisfactory.

The running time could be a little drag and there are some illogical filmy moments. The attempt to mix topicality with what could have been a breezy thriller makes the film heavy at times, but Kurbaan is still a bearable watch for what it could have been as a taut thriller.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Movie Review: 2012: Special Effects 'Save the Day'


Leading the dull loser lives that we are, I wouldn't mind dying in epic style with millions of earthlings for company - watching open-mouthed as a 1500-foot giant tsunami rolls magnificently over, watch a whole island turn into a mammoth volcano all around me or fall into those deep cracks caused due to a mega earthquake, screaming like hell as I disappear.

Nobody dies the usual way in the latest Hollywood disaster movie 2012. Predictably, the lead characters survive to save the day. So it is left to the special effects team (hail the VFX people!) to make it all fun and convincing, even as cities fall apart and world-famous monuments are reduced to rubble. The loud soundtrack does the rest.
Don't look for a story, expect emotional pep talk on universal brotherhood and have fun. 2012 is a movie to be enjoyed and forgotten, on the 70mm screen.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

DVD picks: Groundhog Day


What would you do if you were to wake up today that find that you are reliving yesterday again? You may find it eerie and too coincidental for your comfort. But what if you woke up to the same day again and again, and found that nobody realises this apart from you. The 1993 film Groundhog Day is based on this central idea and Bill Murray plays the hapless celebrity TV weatherman who has to relive this one bad day for many never-ending days.
A surprising comedy with unexpected lessons in life, relive the incredulity and magic of Groundhog Day on DVD.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

DVD picks: Be Kind Rewind


A little sweet comedy, Be Kind Rewind may be a bit contrived but it doesn't disappoint. To cut the story short, Mike and Jerry end up making their own versions of the biggest Hollywood hits after all the VHS tapes they give out on rent go blank (due to a liberty the screenplay writers had to take for setting up the comedy). Moreover, they also include the whole neighbourhood as extras in the films, only adding to the popularity of the store.

Surprisingly these 20-minute versions are a hit, but now with the store owner back from a holiday, and film studios suing for copyright violation, there is one last film to make.

The storyline is thin, and the film mostly hangs on the innovative remake of films like Ghostbusters, Rush Hour 2 and Driving Miss Daisy. Jack Black stands out and adds energy and much needed warmth to the weak screenplay.

A pleasant watch.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

DVD picks: CITY OF GOD


Based on true events, you can almost smell the sweat, the groove, the heat and the rebellious madness of youth that the characters exude even as Rocket, one of the many denizens of the notorious slum in Brazil - the City of God, finally finds what he wants to do. It is his story and the story of other people who crowd the world of crime, robbery, drug-peddling and the dream of escaping the slum.
Even the subtitles can't extinguish the arresting tale of human beings so desperate to live, whatever the implications. You will be lucky to catch it at some film festival. Meanwhile, catch it on DVD.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Movie Review: LONDON DREAMS: Killing with the formula


An ambitious Indian musician making his mark in the London music scene brings along his childhood friend from India to be a part of his band only to discover the friend overshadows him with his gifted talent. Driven by jealousy and madness, the musician must achieve his dreams at any cost, and so unfolds the story.

The premise inspired from the 1984 Hollywood film Amadeus has its moments, but Hindi film escapism and musical song sequences ensure that the effect is fleeting. Salman is a surprise, he does manage to convey the freedom of his character, while Ajay Devgn - playing a man in a maddening pursuit of his dream, though good, is ineffective because his character is too glum, too hidden (despite been a musician).

Watch it for Salman's carefree portrayal, the rest is all old stale wine, in an old bottle.

Friday, 30 October 2009

THIS IS IT: Michael Jackson's Swan Song


No one could live a song like Michael Jackson did, and it is more than evident in the new documentary film THIS IS IT, a collection of rehearsals for Jackson's 'farewell tour' that never happened due to his death in July.

Well, Jackson is more than alive in this film, with no signs of any weakness or ill-health, he dances like magic, sings with a passion as he only can. We also get to see how much goes into a stage show, the side-dancers, the musicians, the choreographers, the light designers and visual effect creators, but finally it is MJ who stands out.

Go, watch it on 70mm at the theaters for the posters say ' for two weeks only'. Unless they are kidding.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Movie Review: ALL THE BEST: Mix of charming and degrading comedy


Director Rohit Shetty arguably gave a new genre of Hindi film comedy to the screen especially with Golmaal (2006) and its sequel Golmaal Returns (2008). His latest release All the Best is loaded with the same template. The thin storyline and characters exist for the resultant comedy, so it is like every scene playing out like a series of skits, ranging from clever lines and expressions to cheap 'do anything for the laughs' kind of thing. Then there is also the celebration of the 'invincible hero' beating up villains, alas, without any comic inventiveness. The female leads have little to do, it is the Ajay Devgn and Sanjay Dutt banter that keeps us entertained, Fardeen gets to do his bit too. Pritam's music is good decoration.

Bearable popcorn entertainment, you could munch the whole packet empty without realising there is none left. Why? Because you have tasted it before. All the Best is that kind of comedy, you will not mind sitting through it.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Hungercloud in the city

He brings with him a relentless frenzy, a large appetite, tales of his 'luv' and a frantic desperate search for a stable job. We shall follow his adventures with Cloud in subsequent posts.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Movie Review: Wake Up Sid: Ranbir dazzles


Wake Up Sid, directed by Ayan Mukherjee is a breezy 'coming of age' tale of a rich, carefree brat Sid -Siddharth Mehra. Sid (Ranbir Kapoor) as he is called by friends, is just out of college and believes in living in the moment. "Who knows where we will be tomorrow?" he declares to his friends in a short monologue. This also means he has no sense of responsibility, or any clue as to a profession or living life on his own terms. Chancing upon a older, more career-focused Aisha (Konkana Sen Sharma), new to Mumbai, he helps her find a rented abode. Things go breezy and carefree on celluloid, until the final year results arrive, and Sid discovers that he has flunked. Angry and arrogant, he leaves home after an altercation with his bath shower firm-owning father (Anupam Kher).  Helpless, he moves in with Aisha. Similar growing up shades were seen in Farhan Akhtar's sparkling directorial debut Dil Chahta Hai and in his second movie Lakshya.

Ayan keeps it simple, and it is the chemistry between the main characters played by Ranbhir and Konkana, the clash of their mismatched personalities that keeps the film going. Apart from characters like Sid's college friends and his parents (Anupam Kher excellent as the strict father, Supriya Pathak charming as the English-learning mother) - the Shankar-Ehsan-Loy soundtrack is the movie's strength too.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

I am only sleeping...



I'm only sleeping by THE BEATLES

Everybody seems to think I'm lazy
I don't mind, I think they're crazy
Running everywhere at such a speed
Till they find, there's no need

Please don't spoil my day
I'm miles away
And after all
I'm only sleeping

Friday, 2 October 2009

Movie Review: What's Your Rashee?: Stretched with loose ends..


There is no denying that Ashutosh Gowariker's foray into the comedy genre does raise the laughs at times. What doesn't go well is the storyline devised to create the comedy and the three-hour plus running time.

All is well when NRI Yogesh Patel is emotionally blackmailed by his parents to marry within a fortnight in order to repay his brother's debts. Left with no choice, he decides to meet a girl from each rashee (sun sign) and then decide. Priyanka Chopra playing all the 12 girls could have been an absolute joy if only the screenplay would have been more inventive at setting up each girl-boy meeting. What we get is a mixture of brilliance, sharp characterisation to superficial, repeated scenes. It is all 'what could have been', for Priyanka is captivating in parts and Hurman, otherwise bound in a limited role, strikes a fine chemistry with her. Darshan Jariwala and Anjan Srivastav lead the impressive cast of supporting actors. What's Your Rashee? is still worth a watch for the moments of magic that this marathon movie sparkles with, if occasionally...

The music
No comparisons to AR Rahman please! Sohail Sen's music is pleasant and quite an effort considering there were 13 songs to be composed. The background score is OK, for a debutant. Sen certainly deserves another opportunity.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

nowhere man


NOWHERE MAN by THE BEATLES
He's a real nowhere man,
Sitting in his Nowhere Land,
Making all his nowhere plans
for nobody
Doesn't have a point of view,
Knows not where he's going to,
Isn't he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere Man please listen,
You don't know what you're missing,
Nowhere Man,
the world is at your command!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Movie Review: DISTRICT 9: Edgy action drama

An alien gets eviction orders at the refugee camp
At the cinema hall, what finally matters is the experience. It goes beyond getting the ticket's worth, or killing time. 

The story
District 9 is the name of the refugee camp in Johannesburg, South Africa for more than 1 million prawn like aliens who were shifted there after their mother ship was found lost, hovering over the city twenty years ago. Now, a weapons manufacturing company, MNU, that shifted them in search of alien weaponry, plan to shift them to a new location away from the city due to the nuisance that wandering aliens have caused among the human population. What unfolds when MNU eviction representatives are send to the impoverished camp makes up the rest of the story.

What works
The 'real' documentary adds 'authenticity' to the lie that fiction is. The characters, their vulnerability, and the breaking away from the formula, all work in the film's favour.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Movie Review: Quick Gun Murugan: Miserly Fun


Quick Gun Murugan first came on our TV screens on Channel V about 15 years ago. It was funny then in its five minute (or less) format. Now they have a 90-minute movie that does have the potential. Dr Rajendra Prasad is spot on for the title role, Rambha is vivacious and apt as Mango Dolly and Naseer is competent as the villain - Rice Plate Reddy.

It is the meandering story that plays the spoiler here - the real villain, for as the novelty wears off, there is very little to laugh at. Quick Gun has the heart at the right place, the stereotypical South Indian accent, the self-righteous and bullet-biting hero but it is genuine humour it lacks. Still, at 90 and odd minutes, it is not a bad watch. It isn't great, probably they could try again in a sequel, perhaps?

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

MICHAEL JACKSON IN TRANSLATION

A still from the 1983 performance at Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever
*****
Billy Jean is one of the most intricate songs that Michael Jackson ever sung. A glance at the lyrics will tell you how out of sync the lines read, like broken words, not flowing as song lyrics usually flow. Yet it is in the rendition that Jackson creates magic.
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What is the song about?
As legend goes, the song is said to be inspired by an insane female fan claiming that Jackson is the father to her unborn son. The producer Quincy Jones took some convincing for the song to be included into the record-breaking, bestselling album - Thriller (1982). Here is an attempt to translate some parts of the song lyrics to Hindi (English script), for the absurd effect it creates ........

Billy Jean meri premika nahi hai
Woh bas ek ladki hai jo kahti hai main 'woh' hu
Par woh baccha mera beta nahi hai
Woh kehti hai main 'woh' hu,
par woh baccha mera beta nahi hai....
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At the 1983 US television special - Motown 25: Yesterday, Today and Forever, Jackson gave a breathtaking performance of the same song, the first glimpse of the moonwalk apart from the enthralling dance steps that were to make him legendary. The youtube link to the performance is here...www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIbRx98h4_4

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

KAMINEY: Old formula, wicked twists


Vishal Bharadwaj gets loose and has some fun at the expense of a formulaic story and then gives the whole thing a wicked twist. It is a mix of greedy gangsters, twin brothers ( " हम दोनों जुदवे है..." ( "We are both twins") is said in a very tongue and cheek manner), and a guitar that binds them all... to the climax.

The performances are endearing and gritty. Shahid Kapoor leads the pack with his portrayal of the timid stammerer Guddu and the notorious race course bookie Charlie. Priyanka Chopra oozes charm and sensuality especially in her scenes with Shahid. Taare Zameen Par creative director Amol Gupte is a revelation in his acting debut.

The 'smoke, bullet and fire' culmination is apt, garnished with some Hindi film 'reality compromise'. Surely, some creative liberty is allowed, for Kaminey is no wannabe serious cinema. It aims to entertain and does that with style. The core, the depth may seem to be missing for the cinema lover...but go for it!
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Things get high when...
An AIDS awareness NGO worker desperately searches for contraceptives...
A 'son of the soil' politician is shocked to know his daughter is covertly marrying a North Indian...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

blog header museum: three women


The photograph in the header is from a Kannada newspaper article that informs us of Bangalore's altering culture and how the youth have come out of their demure shells and wear clothes that suggest a subtle form of rebellion....

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

blog header museum: the tea cup


click image for large size view

The tea cup in the collage are from some photos clicked at the old world Irani cafe and restaurant in Pune - Cafe Good Luck. Set up in 1935, Irani tea and Bun Maska are a favourite with regular customers here.

Monday, 17 August 2009

blog header museum: lady in red


click image for large size view

Anushka Shetty, the popular Telugu actress made it to the header a couple of times. What you miss in the picture is the rest of her tiltating red sari...

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Sleepwalking blog header museum


For starters, the blog header is the rectangular box you see right at the top of the blog. Thanks to Blogger allowing us losers to make it something of our own, I tried many collages and own designs that have accumulated like trash.
So subsequent posts will feature some blog headers I do not use anymore and some that were never used...
Brace for impact.

Thursday, 30 July 2009