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Archive for the ‘Movie Review’ Category

Movie Reviews – Dostaana & Dasvidaniya

Posted by RB Kollannur on November 18, 2008

Dostaana brings together Abhishek Bachchan (Sam) and John Abraham (Kunal), in a literal sense, to don the role of a “gay couple” in order to gain an apartment. Rope in the sexy Priyanka Chopra (Neha) and you are bound to see some hormones flare. Sam and Kunal are hunting for an apartment and find the perfect apartment. The only problem – Neha, the landlady’s niece, who is living there. So, Sam and Kunal convince the landlady that they are a gay couple. Soon, Sam and Kunal both fall for Neha and try to make a play for her, while Neha, unbeknownst of her friends’ heterosexuality is on the lookout for her Mr. Prefect.

The entire movie is set in a light hearted manner, so there is no point in going over the political correctness of each and every remark in the movie. The story is not exceedingly remarkable since most of the script is written purely to make the movie funny. And it is a fun movie as well. It is filled with comical references of gay stereotypes and innuendoes. It is surprising to see two people who pulled off such a weak performance in Drona, come back and perform exceedingly well in Dostaana. John Abraham holds up well as well, pun intended. Boman Irani plays a nice cameo as Neha’s boss, a gay designer (What is with Bollywood and gay designers?) while the much hammed role of Kirron Kher as Sam’s mom, who is downcast after finding out of her son’s “homosexuality” is hilarious. Halfway through, it seemed that the movie was about to lose its zing, when Abhimanyu (Bobby Deol credited with a cameo performance for some strange reason) appears as a possible love interest for Neha. Fortunately, the movie does not digress into “rona, dona” and keeps its funny bone. An entertaining comedy for the weekend.

Dasvidaniya attempts to touch an emotional chord with the audience bringing Amar Kaul, an accountant whose by the book life goes into a complete disarray when he finds out that he is dying with cancer. Egged on by a freewheeling Jagtap (Ranvir Shorey) and his own conscience (Dressed like Jagtap) wanting to break out, Amar sets out to do things he had always wanted to do, but didn’t, out of his own inhibitions.

Reminiscent of The Bucket List? The similarity dies there. Amar’s “ten Things To Do before I die” list is hardly the sort adventurers would die to have in their resume. Instead, he chooses to hold on to his emotional side; professing his love to his childhood crush and only love, meeting his old best friend who had drifted apart over the years, healing his relationship with an estranged brother and so on. As the movie progresses, it adopts the simplistic character of Amar Kaul, revealing his good natured but limited life and unachieved ambitions. The audience cannot help but feel sorry for the character’s helplessness in life.

Vinay Pathak performs extremely well as Amar Kaul. The supporting cast gels well, though their screen time (except for Amar’s mom and his guitar teacher) is limited to the part of his bucket list with relation to them. The movie retains its own comical touch as well, with the ever eating boss, Dasgupta (Saurabh Shukla) referenced as Hari Sadoo (Remember the naukri ad) and a guitar scene in the end reminiscent of Jab We Me when Shahid Kapoor plays his guitar with his employees gather around him. Many of Amar’s interactions with his crush, guitar master and others are shown in a lighter vein. An affair in a foreign country with a gorgeous Russian way beyond his league was probably a tad too much, but I guess it was added to introduce the movie name (Dasvidaniya being Russian, in case you didn’t realize Amar sets out to do “Das” tasks). The movie comes off well as an emotional experiment.

All in all, Dostaana’s laughter and Dasvidaniya’s sadness forms a nice combination of opposites. On a curious note, Dasvidaniya had attempted to get its feet wet in social media with a facebook app and all, although I heard about it on twitter rather than on facebook. So, I am not sure how successful it was, but it is a welcome attempt for a movie to attempt to bond with its audience. However, its wiki page and IMDb  profile leaves a lot to be desired.


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Movie Reviews – Body of Lies & Quantum of Solace

Posted by RB Kollannur on November 15, 2008

“How do you expect me to run an operation, when you’re running a side operation that f***s up my own” – Roger Ferris (Body of Lies)

Body of Lies is about the world of foreign espionage embedded with secrecy and deceit with no clue of what is actually happening, leaving the audience unsure of whether what they are seeing on screen has some other relevance or foreshadowing something else. In the centre of all of these conspiracies is Roger Ferris (Leonardo DiCaprio) trying to chase down a UBL like terrorist who has been blowing up bombs across Europe. His boss, Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), uses him as his eyes and ears in the Middle East, but keeps running other operations on the side without informing him, that leaves Ferris in the open and unprotected. There is also the suave Jordan intelligence head, who has to look after his own interests while interacting with the CIA. In the meantime, Ferris rings up a romance with a Jordani nurse who does not know of his real identity.

The movie is built around suspense of the conspiracies and the counter conspiracies of the movie. In one scene, Ferris is staking out a terrorist safehouse, only to realize his boss has a side operation which compromises his position. After a while though, the novelty wears off and everyone starts to expect something fishy around every corner. DiCaprio and Crowe pull a stellar performance, while the supporting cast performs well as well. The thread of the developing romance of Ferris and Aisha (the Jordani nurse) adds on positively to the movie, as an attempt to humanize the central character and to understand the local culture in the midst of ongoing wars. On the whole, the movie is a good watch, especially if you are a DiCaprio or a Crowe fan.

For some reason, the James Bond franchise chose to go for a reboot with Daniel Craig. So out went the gadgets, the cars, the drinks and to an extent the girls. I am not sure why they chose to remove all of the fancy features that we have come to associate with James Bond, but I am told it is because James Bond became clichéd and started losing audience. Without the glam quotient, Casino Royale still picked up the big bucks (May be the critics knew what they were talking about). Quantum of Solace picks up right where Casino Royale left off, which is also quite odd. The James Bond movies I’ve seen are generally disconnected stand alone stories. But in these days of Harry Potter and LOTR, I guess tthe public are used to the idea of a movie series. So we have the new James Bond.

Quantum of Solace starts off with a high speed chase with Bond dragging the villain from the first movie in the boot of his car. Though the chase was quite an adrenaline rush, it failed to match the freerunning chase in the opening sequence of Casino Royale (Probably because I prefer running to driving). While attempting to interrogate the culprit, M’s security guard attempts to kill her and make off with the villain. Bond catches up with the guard, but the villain escapes. Surprised by the reach of their enemy organization to infiltrate MI6, M tries to follow the guard’s sponsors and find his masters. The money trail leads them to Dominic Greene, chairman of Greene Planet, who is planning a coup in Bolivia. The movie takes off from there with Bond attempting to capture Greene and his masters.

Though the movie is high on adrenaline from start to finish, it is definitely not a Bond movie. Nor does it try to be. It is yet another arduous step in Daniel Craig’s long way to become the James Bond we have all grown accustomed to. Unfortunately, it also means that Quantum of Solace is just another action movie, which Hollywood is never short of. Hopefully, there won’t be many steps in Craig’s way, because Bond stands to lose its aura over similar movies like the Bourne series. Though we do not see Bond adopt any of the “Bondly” features, we do see him “go rogue” from MI6 in an attempt to catch the criminal and have enough patience to elicit information before killing the criminal, a slight improvement from the previous one. In the end, it is revealed that the enemy organization they are hunting is called “Quantum”. Expecting the next movie to follow up from there.

Watch Quantum of Solace as a James Bond movie, you may be disappointed, but watch it as an action movie, you are certainly in for an exciting ride.

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Movie Reviews – Aegan & Fashion

Posted by RB Kollannur on October 31, 2008

Aegan, the new Ajith / Nayantara starrer is loosely adapted from “Mein Hoon Na”. Ajith plays a hardhitting cop (Siva), sent by his father (the police commissioner), to watch over Pooja. Her father (Devan) is an informant on a mafia boss, who is out to kill him. I am sure most of u have seen “Mein Hoon Na”, so I’ll dispense with the plotline (Last checked the wiki for the movie has the story of Mein Hoon Na copy pasted in its plotline). There are some minor differences, like there is no Sunil Shetty character to enroll as a Professor, Siva’s father is alive and he doesn’t know that about his brother (Naren) and mother when he arrives in college. Beyond that, the role of Pooja and Naren are decreased as compared to Lucky and Sanjana in “Mein Hoon Na” and the romance between Siva and Mallika (the Chemistry Professor played by Nayantara) is played up.

One thing abt Tamil movies is that the heroes are always one with the Force. So, don’t be surprising to see Siva perform a Jedi push to disperse his enemies. Jayaram plays the role of Boman Irani and pulls it off with class. Cochin Hanifa has a good cameo as Ajith’s sidekick. Piaa and Navdeep fails to match the pair of Zayed and Amritha in “Mein Hoon Na”, but this is mostly because they were largely left in the background. Ajith performs okay, while Nayantara’s role is to look beautiful (Which  she does with style) and watch the movie from the sidelines. Suman as the villain fails to impress, though he has a sidekick who tries to make up for it with weak jokes. On the whole, the movie is watchable, even if u have seen “Mein Hoon Na”. Jayaram and Cochin Hanifa provides a fair enough deviation to make it different.

Fashion is the story of the fall from grace of Shonali (Kangana Ranaut), a high running model who rules the runway, before she gets sidelined by another model who her boss had an eye for. Her career goes into a downward spiral and she gets increasingly addicted to drug and more and more isolated from the industry. An attempt to resurrect her career becomes a catastrophe because of a wardrobe malfunction. She recedes further from the society till she suffers from an overdose and disappears from the scene hopping from one rehab to another.

Okay, this is the movie Madhur Bhandarkar should have made. Instead he chose to make a movie about Meghna (Priyanka Chopra) the small town girl who comes to the big city to become a super model. She has help from an aspiring designer, Rohit Khanna, who has some contacts with the industry. Her innocence and attitude catches the eye of a popular publisher, Sareen (Arbaz Khan), who falls for her. Later, he replaces Shonali with Meghna, making her an overnight success at Shonali’s expense. Meghna proceeds to have an affair with Sareen as well. Later she also falls from the top like Shonali, though under different circumstances.

Kangana Ranaut pulls off a brilliant performance as Shonali, while Priyanka Chopra as Meghna has an average role to play. The story of Meghna fails to impress. The character of Shonali takes all the glory. There are moments in Meghna’s downfall, when the viewers are expected to feel sorry for her character. Except it is not so. The trafic fate of Shonali lingers in the mind, overriding any sympathy for Shonali. The movie is way too long (2:45 hours) trying to show both stories, though the spotlight is clearly on Priyanka. It is filled with innuendoes about homosexual designers, drug abuse in the industry and to an extent, the casting couch. But most of it stays in the background, more like an inside gag or an addon, rather than a plot changer. The support cast has a decent performance as well, though there is a tendency for people to completely disappear from the storyline only to see them back again after an hour or so.

For me, the most emotional moment in the movie was when Shonali suffers from a wardrobe malfunction (No, it’s not what u think). The expression on Kangana’s face showed emotional distraught and the viewers could easily empathize with the vulnerable state she was in having reached the lowest point in her life. Pity, Madhur Bandarkar chose to use her in short bursts. I wonder how the movie would have turned out had he done it differently.

For a movie that was about the fashion industry, Kangana Ranaut was clearly the showstopper.

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Pappu’s Violent Streak and the Worst Super Hero of the Year

Posted by RB Kollannur on October 4, 2008

“Thabhi mujhe samajh gaya ki tumare antar violent streak hein” (I understood then that you had a violent streak in you) – Inspector Waghmare in Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na.

With Jaane Tu fresh in memories, the viewers are bound to compare the two recent Imran Khan movies. Gone is the nice guy Jai Singh Rathod, enter Kabir epitomizing revenge and anger. Kabir, a juvenile offender, send to jail under dubious circumstances by a rich industrialist distraught over concerns of his daughter’s life. Now out of prison after seven years, Kabir is out to get revenge on the industrialist by kidnapping his daughter (Sonia played by Minissha Lamba) and making him do his bidding in return of freeing her. Vikrant Raina (Sanjay Dutt) has to collect some clues, do some tasks and figure out what everything meant if he is to see his daughter again. In the process, he also gets to make up with his ex-wife (Vidya Malvade) whom he still loves. The plot is weak and mostly predictable and there is no suspense in waiting. My only doubt was whether Kabir will be killed or not in the end (I should have remembered I was watching a Bollywood movie). It is easy to understand Kabir’s hunger for revenge. Put in prison for stealing a car (and kidnapping a young Sonia, who jumps into the car) while trying to take an injured friend to hospital, one tends to empathize with Kabir for his hardships.

Imran looks to be stuck in “the violent streak” mode which Paresh Rawal mentions in Jaane Tu. His face is unchanged throughout the movie and his acting seems to be straight out of Joey Tribbiani’s acting handbook. Acting is average at the best and relies more on Minissha Lamba’s lack of a proper wardrobe to keep the audience glued to the set. Sanjay Dutt’s performance do not earn much attention neither does Vidhya Malvade, who plays Minissha’s mother (Wasn’t she one of the Chak De girls?).

The movie was watchable, partly due to Minissha’s skin show, if you want to see that. For me the only high point of the movie was a chase between Imran and Sanjay Dutt across the urban Mumbai, straight out Sebastien Foucan’s (Remember Casino Royale starting scenes) freerunning handbooks.

Harry Potter Aditya is a young boy in a European city living with adopted parents. He is forced to live in a cupboard the attic, while the parents mother dotes on their birth son. When he grows up he realizes there is more to him than he was told. He is a wizard king and his parents were father was killed by an evil wizard asura seeking immortality. He now has to prevent the wizard asura from getting the Sorcerer’s Stone amrith, which can give the drinker immortality. He has certain clues to get to his destination and he has the help of Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley Sonia to figure them out before the villain gets there. The wizard asura has his own followers, the Death Eaters people with hooded masks who look like a cross of the Nazgul and the Death Eaters, to help him.

I expected much more from Drona. Kidnap was understandable. If it was not for Jaane Tu, not many would have considered going for the movie. But Abhishek Bachchan does not have an excuse. Seeing the credits in the start, I presume the movie is for kids, but I very much doubt the kids will like any bit of it. I do not know what is there to like about in this film. The movie follows a badly choreographed scavenger hunt, collecting horses and swords on the way to find amrith. The clues were so bad that it made me feel the ones in Kidnap were better. As a hero, Drona is a failure. He keeps up messing up stuff and fails to live up to the tag of a super hero. In the end, he is lucky to get some divine intervention to make up for his mistakes and save the day. Halfway through the movie, I was already longing for the end (It may also be because I was worried about missing the last bus home and having to resort to the expensive autos). In one of his interviews, Abhishek Bachchan talks about how Drona is a king and not a supernatural superhero. Unfortunately, the movie fails to support his view.

Afterthought : Before you demonize all asura, check out Ahura Mazda on wiki.  And yeah, there is a town  in Drona straight out the sets of Dick Tracy and Speed Racer.

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Righteous Kill on a Wednesday

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 21, 2008

2008 has been the year of the masked vigilantes with Batman and Iron Man wooing audiences the world over. Well, now it’s time to remove the mask of super powers (okay, neither Batman nor Iron Man has super powers, but u get the idea) and bring them down to earth. “Righteous Kill” and “A Wednesday” brings you veteran actors donning the colors of normal day to day people who chooses to stand up to crime and get rid of it.

“Righteous Kill” is a disappointment because it wastes the talents of two of the most charismatic actors on the silver screen – Al Pacino and Robert de Niro. When you consider this was the major pull for audience, it adds on to the disappointment. It starts off with the video of a cop confessing to killing criminals who manage to save themselves from the clutches of law. The movie is a flashback, with the cop, Turk (Robert de Niro), and his partner, Rooster (Al Pacino), teaming up with two other cops, Riley and Perez (Wahlberg and Leguizamo) to catch a serial killer, who has been bumping off criminals.

De Niro and Leguizamo play similar characters, both are seen as a short fuse and wears the badge with their heart, rather that the brain. Rooster is more calm and thoughtful, and also mostly silent. So, Pacino does not get opportunity to take on his acting prowess early on. Riley and Perez seem to portray a younger version of Turk and Rooster, though Wahlberg has an almost non-existent role. The story centers around Turk, as he tries to wade off suspicion from his fellow cops and balance his job in the middle of an internal affairs investigation. Perez is convinced Turk is the killer, while Rooster insists he is not. The movie drags on at a slow pace and is unfortunately devoid of any humor, except for a remark about the Brady Bunch and Turk’s relations with a forensics detective. There is an interesting twist in the end, more of a deception by the scriptwriter, than an actual suspense, but otherwise the movie has very little to offer except for the opportunity to watch Al Pacino and Robert de Niro share the same screen.

“A Wednesday” brings you an Indian perspective to vigilantism. The common Mumbaikar, plagued by the spate of terrorism in his city and the helplessness of the police, takes up arm and decides to finish the job. Commissioner Prakash Rathod (Anupam Kher) receives an anonymous call threatening bomb blasts at different locations in the city unless four terrorists in police custody (not yet convicted) are freed. To prove his point, he reveals a bomb placed in a nearby police station. Quickly, Rathod sets up a task force. The Chief Minister tries to buck responsibility, but finally delegates all authority and responsibility needed to Rathod. The caller (Naseeruddin Shah) is shown to have good knowledge of technology, staying one step ahead of the cops, even manipulating the media as well, but stops short of creating mass hysteria. Rathod tries in vain to find the caller and is assisted by Jai (Amir Bashir) and Arif (Jimmy Shergill). Left with no options, Rathod reluctantly allows the prisoners to be set free (with chief minister again trying to buck the responsibility), only to be surprised to find the caller intended to kill them. Deed done, the entire case is buried and erased from all records.

Anupam Kher brings out a classy performance as the distressed cop, who has to deal with a weak willed Chief Minister, unconfident to make a decision, and a master criminal, who always has the upper hand. Jimmy Shergill pulls off a nice cameo as the hot headed cop, ably supported by Amir Bashir, as the voice of logic. Naseeruddin Shah portrays his role with a touch of panache and elegance. The movie is punctuated with intelligent humor which blends well with the story. Jai gives an absolutely hilarious interview in an occasion, straight out of the MBA handbooks – talk a lot, but say nothing.

Vigilante justice is often frowned upon by the law, but gains mass support. The movie touches up on most aspects of vigilante justice, though some of them in a subtle way like the indecisive chief minister. A weak government, which cannot confidently make a decision for the fear of retribution or accountability, is drawn to impotence and provides an ample environment for terror to strike. When the lawmakers do nothing, can their law? The common man, having to face the mask terror up close and personal, is drawn out to correct the system. His only desire is to do the right thing and in this occasion it works out for the best. But then it is silently swept under the carpet, so that it does not encourage repetitions.

And no, I saw neither movie on Wednesday

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Tamil Movie Reviews, For A Change

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008

Dhaam Dhoom is a movie I have been looking forward to watch for a while. The musical score was impressive and the storyline seemed interesting. Also, there was Kangana Ranaut. Jayam Ravi plays Gautham Subramaniam, an Indian doctor who has been framed for murder in Moscow after going there on an international symposium. He “hooks up” with a Russian model at the Moscow, who unknown to him was smuggling drugs, and wakes up to find here dead in his hotel room. He has difficulty in communicating, with the Russians reluctant to use English. To make things worse, he is hunted by a group of assassins, who intends to seem him silenced and pose no more trouble for them. He receives help from aarthi Chinnappa, a local lawyer of Indian origin (Lakshmi Rai) and Raghavan Nambiar (Jayaram) from the Indian consulate. The Moscow story arc is interspersed with the story of Gautham and Shenba (Kangana Ranaut), Gautham’s fiancé. They were scheduled to marry once Gautham returns from Moscow.

The Shenba story arc comes as a flashback and tells of their first meeting and how they fall in love and get engaged. This arc is cute and humorous. Shenba is from Gautham’s sister’s village and they meet in a humorous situation, when Gautham tries to save Shenba from four men chasing her, only to realize she was racing with them. Their subsequent meetings are in funny and awkward situations as well and lend humor and interest to the story. The Moscow arc, however, proceeds in a standard manner, with Gautham finding out who framed him and ending it in a sort of Mexican standoff, in the middle of a desert filled with electric towers, extremely reminiscent of the finale in “Seven”.

Kangana Ranaut was lovable and gorgeous as Shenba and that part of the story was worth watching. The scenes in Moscow are well-shot and make a better tourism advert than Istanbul (in Mission Istanbul) and Australia (in Love Story 2050).

Due to a scheduling mix-up, I had no other movie for the weekend. So, I ended up seeing the other Tamil movie for the weekend (Scary, considering I barely understand Tamil). “Saroja” is the story four friends, who go for a cricket match in Hyderabad in what looked like a cross between a Beetle and an Omni. I am not sure whether they started off from Chennai or Hyderabad, but it takes them a long ride to their destination. Their route is cut off by an accident and they decide to turn back home. On their way back, they decide to take a “short cut”, but ends up in a desolate industrial area as dusk approaches. There they run into some goons hiding out in the area and are stuck with no way to leave as their van crashes. Oh, did I say the daughter of a rich guy in Hyderabad is kidnapped in the beginning of the movie. The story proceeds with the friends trying to find a way past the goons and maybe, find the kidnapped girl by chance.

The story is focused on the four friends. The distraught parents and the helpful cop (Jayaram) get insufficient airtime and their tears go largely to waste. The story is more about humor than emotion and fulfils that objective. The story starts weakly, though, as it leaves a few holes unplugged (One of the friends in love with a girl, who is in love with one of the friends. That arc and the girl is written out after they start for the game). One of the disappointing aspects regarding “Dham Dhoom” for me was the Malayalam media was running features about Jayaram’s role as the villain in the movie, killing any suspense regarding the Moscow arc. So, I’ll stop short of doing the same for “Saroja” : )

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Rock On,Wall-E

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008

Wall-E is a charming love story of two robots. Wall-E, the main protagonist, is a garbage collector left behind by humanity to clean up accumulated garbage. After seven hundred years in isolation, Wall-E is the last of its kind, keeping himself active by scavenging parts of other Wall-E. He has also developed limited sentience. He has developed affinity towards some of the junk he finds and collects them. He also seems to have developed a longingness for love, seen to be exhibited by holding hands in a movie he constantly watches. He has a pet cockroach as well and humble abode to rest in the night and shelter from the ever so frequent dust storms. His life comes to a stop when he meets EVE, a robot sent by the humans to check on earth for life. Only if plant life is possible can humans return. Luckily Wall-E has a plant in his collectibles and EVE goes back to the humans’ spaceship along with the other drones and a stowaway, Wall-E. In the spaceship, humans have adapted to a luxurious and lazy life and have devolved like HG Wells’s Eloi. The plant is the trigger to the return flight to Earth, but the robots, which run the ship, are bent on seeing that doesn’t happen. Only Wall-E, EVE and the ship’s overweight capatin can stand in their way, although the captain is just learning how to crawl, let alone stand.

Wall-E is an appealing story about love and innocence. The story is clichéd, but Wall-E and EVE enchant the audience with their sweet innocence. The way they communicate with mechanic sounds is cute and charming. Overall, it is a nice and entertaining movie that can appeal to any audience.

Rock On is the story of four former friends, who had a rock band in college but went separate ways after an ugly breakup. Aditya (Farhan Akthar) is a stoic investment broker leading on a successful life with his wife Sakshi (Prachi Desai), KD (Purab Kohli) is working in his dad’s jewelry business, Rob (Luke Kenny) is a composer for music directors and ad makers and Joe (Arjun Rampal) is a guitarist living in the past, living off his wife, Debbie (Shahana Goswami) who is running his family business and taking care of his family. Sakshi, concerned about her husband, who seems slipping away from her into self-inflicted web of isolation, seeks to cheer up Aditya. A chance meeting with KD and some surprising revelations of Aditya’s happy and unfettered past, makes her believe bringing the four friends back together will bring back the smile on her husband’s face.

Rock On combines good music and good story to bring you an excellent entertainer. It is one of the better movies in the Bollywood calendar along with Jaane Tu and Race, aimed at mass audience. The movie introduces some new Bollywood blood, with Farhan coming from behind the screen and Prachi from the small screen. Both of them comes of well. Prachi, the loving wife, always seem to have a spark in her eye and a smile on her face and can cheer up any audience. Farhan does a good transition from the easy-going rocker to the stoic broker. He uses his vocal chords without a blemish as well. Purab Kohli is underused, but still pulls off the role of the comic sidekick pretty well. Arjun Rampal is the hot-blooded guitarist, who has become a reserved introvert after the breakup. He plays the part with class and adds finesse to the cast. Luke Kenny is the glue to the band and acts as the completion for the friends. He becomes the butt of many jokes, especially from KD, who always remarks about his obvious balding. The acting highlight is Shahana, the overburdened wife, having to deal with her husband’s languishing fish business, a husband who has lost his inspiration about life and music, and her own disappointments in life like the designing career she had to forego to take care of her family.

The story runs in an expected line. The movie is sprinkled with good songs to keep the rhythm and enliven the good spirits. Having kept to a clichéd formula, the story has few surprises. But a disappointing part for me was how they handled the ex-girlfriend (Farhan’s) part. I had thought they might kill her off as one of the reasons for the initial breakup, but the writers chose to keep her alive for an awkward and clumsy interaction of the hero, his wife and the ex. Besides that, the script gels well to create an exceptional movie.

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A Tale of Two Cities

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008

The Battle of Iwo Jima was one of the hardest fought battles in the Second World War. Lying between US controlled Saipan and Japan, Iwo Jima was a lookout point for air raids by US on Japan. For the Americans, Iwo Jima could be a staging area to launch their attack on the island nation. After military setbacks in other spheres, Iwo Jima was left with 21,000 men to defend the island from an onslaught of over 100,000 strong American force, well supported by air and sea.

“Letter from Iwo Jima” brings you the story of the Battle from the Japanese side. It follows the letters of Saigo, a baker conscripted to the Army, and General Kuribayashi, rallying his forces against the American attack. Saigo, disappointed in being taken away from his wife, begrudges the system and is not happy about the conditions he has to face. In General Kuribayashi he finds a sympathetic commander, who is concerned about the welfare of his soldiers. The General, on the other hand, is left with the task of defending the island with a vastly outnumbered army. Seeing the inevitability of defeat, he starts off with a strategy to delay the defeat and give time for Japan to prepare, rather than go down fighting and die an honorable death as seen by the Japanese customs. His subordinates are not pleased with his actions, but he finds support in few like Saigo and Olympic Gold Medalist Colonel Nishi, who captains the tanks.

The movie provides a touching drama about patriotism and human will. The inevitability of defeat was evident in the early days of fighting, when the Japanese force finds they have only a fraction of the resources as of their enemy. However, they fought with valor and courage for their homeland and all but 200 die in the battle, with most either dying in the line of fire or committing seppuku (ritual suicide).

“Mumbai Meri Jaan” is a drama about five lives in the aftermath of the July 11, 2006 Mumbai train bombings. Madhavan, an idealistic Indian, advocating on improving his nation and its people, receives a jolt of realism when the train he was travelling becomes prey to the bombs. Fortunately for him, he escapes the massacre purely by chance, when a salesman persuades him to travel in a normal compartment instead of his usual first class one, which blew up. The incident leaves him petrified about the trains and makes him question his faith in a society that betrayed him by almost killing him. Soha Ali Khan is a TV reporter, who loses her fiancé in the blast and ends up becoming a subject of a apathetic and annoying news program. Irfan Khan is a coffee vendor from the South, who seeing the edginess of the mass after the bomb, chooses to have fun by making prank bomb calls. His glee in making people flee, meets a seemingly unfortunate end and he realizes the damage he could cause. Kay Kay Menon is a semi-employed Islamphobic person who spends his days languishing in a tea shop (ironically owned by a Muslim) with his friends. His hatred for Muslims increases after the blasts, especially after a Muslim, who is a usual at the tea shop disappears after the blast. Finally, Paresh Rawal, in the most captivating of the characters, is a policeman nearing his retirement and is mentoring an idealistic rookie cop who wants to correct the world. In the end, the spirit of Mumbai comes through. The ending summation by Paresh Rawal, his farewell speech, after his long service where he failed to correct the society, is both enigmatic and charismatic. It showcases the spirit of the movie and provides an excellent finale for the story.

The storylines for Madhavan and Soha are weak and both of them spend most of the movie stuck in a sob story. Soha’s character is a unwanted addition to the movie, since it does not really portray the spirit of Mumbai. Irfan Khan and Kay Kay Menon was good and one could understand and sympathize with their antagonistic emotions, before they finally see the light. Paresh Rawal was the stand out performer, bringing in humor and points to ponder. His character, ably supported by Vijay Maurya as the conscious novice, provides the highlight for the movie.

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A Singh and Some Haseenas

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008

Enough media has been invested in “Singh is Kinng” (Have I got the number of N’s correct?) and “Bachna Ae Haseeno” to make even the reluctant Hindi movie-goer curious. And a lull in English movies gave me the necessary impetus to get rid of the inertia.

“Singh is Kinng” is yet another attempt by Akshay Kumar to embrace his comic side. It’s about a happy go lucky chap, Happy, who goes lucky after meeting Lucky. Lucky, however, was not so happy to see Happy, and neither was he lucky. Happy becomes a lucky replacement till Lucky become happy. In the end, everybody is happy and so is Happy.

That pretty much sums up my opinion of the movie. It is a comedy that borders the realm of stupidity. Oh yeah, there are also Katrina Kaif, couple of Javed Jaffreys and Neha Dupia, as a Bollywood wannabe (following up on her role in Mithya) and talking in movie names. It is funny, but klutzy funny; provides good amusement.

“Bachna Ae Haseeno” is a classic case of the lack of financial sense in Bollywood. BAH is essentially two movies rolled into one. The first one is about the antics of a playboy / person with commitment issues (not sure which it should be). He breaks the heart of a DDLJ addicted “teen” Minisha in a European holiday and follows up with a live-in with Bipasha only to run off on wedding day. He finally falls for Deepika, who is the perfect girl with no intentions to commit. The first half leaves you in a cliffhanger as Deepika breaks Ranbir, who finally gets back his medicine. The second one is about the protagonist trying to make amends, seeking apology for his “priors” and win his lady love. The first half comes off good, but the second half fails to live up to expectations.

Only Bollywood would couple two movies to give you a three hour long of tiring drama. Switch to Hollywood, we will have the two halves spun off into two different movies. Two movies mean twice the revenue. There will be higher costs but revenue will make up for the loss. Both the halves could have been lengthened to make stand alone stories. For example, there are lots of questions left about Ranbir’s character. He seems to be scared of commitment in one relationship, but is practically running with an engagement ring in another. The first half could have provided better insights of Ranbir’s character and added more humor. The second half was passé. It needed to keep audience interested. It has nothing to keep the viewers interested and ends in a clichéd note. Minisha was bubbly as a teenager, though she looked twice the age and was probably the acting high point of the movie.

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A Tryst with the Russian Mafia and a Chinese Emperor

Posted by RB Kollannur on September 11, 2008

Finally, “The Dark Knight” has been toppled from the top of the box office. It was long time coming, Mummy 3 displaced it from the outside North America box office and the Ledger hype is bound to see its last. Tropic Thunder has had its controversies with Robert Downey Jr. and his blackface, but for the time being we will have to wait for a little while till we can catch it on Indian screens and make do with the other movies available.

The third Mummy movie looks to bolster the Mummy franchise, with some extra panache from the martial arts duo, Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li. Set around ten – fifteen years after the previous Mummy movie, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor features Rick O’Connell’s son discovering the tomb of an ancient Chinese Emperor, Han, in post WWII China. Going with the usual family tradition, his father brings the mummy back to life and it is bent on conquering the world. But first, the Mummy has to go to the mythical city of Shangri La and get eternal life. It is upto the O’Connell family to stop him. Aiding them is a Chinese damsel, who is more than handy with martial arts, and her mother, Zi Yuan (Michelle Yeoh), the immortal guardian of Shangri La who had the cursed the Emperor earlier to his mummified form.

There is some historical accuracy to the story of the Dragon Emperor. He is based on a late third century BCE Chinese Emperor, Qin Shi Huang, who united China under one rule after the Warring States Period. He is also credited with the main construction of the Great Wall which ,before him, were separate walls built by different states as a protection from the barbaric Xiongnu, the precursors of Huns. He is someone I’d called as Asimov’s Mule, because after his death his empire broke up, and the situation in China almost reverted to the Warring States period, undoing his life’s work, before Liu Bang and the Han came into power.

Mummy 3 fails to keep the audience interested because the Mummy franchise overshot its commercial life. It is just another Mummy movie with the Brendan Fraser going gung-ho, firing on all cylinders. Maria Bello has a weak role in the movie (after Rachel Weiss chose not to reprise her role), but then when it comes to action she isn’t exactly Mrs. Smith :). The infusion of Michelle Yeoh and Jet Li could have brought the finesse of martial arts to the fore, but it is largely unused. I had hoped for a big showdown between two of the three biggest martial arts name in Hollywood, but it was not to be. That was the biggest disappointment. It would have given the movie much needed variety, rather than being labeled just another Mummy movie.

Eastern Promises is a fascinating drama featuring Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn from LOTR) as a hitman for the Russian mafia. The movie starts in a gruesome fashion with a gory murder, but then moves on to become a slow and enchanting drama. Mortensen is as enigmatic as his LOTR character, but paints a darker role. The story is about a British midwife searching for the parents of teenager who dies at childbirth. She finds some clues that lead her to an old Russian restaurateur, who has ties with the Russian mafia. The dead teenager also leaves a diary with a tragic story to tell. The grandfatherly Russian seeks the diary for himself and so, the midwife is in mortal peril from the mafia. Mortensen is the Russian’s driver, who cleans up things for the mafia.

The movie has been unfortunately labeled as a thriller, as it does not seek to the thrill the audience. But it is an excellent showpiece for direction and acting (Mortensen got an Academy Award nomination for his role). So, if you want to see a captivating portrayal of characters, this would be a good movie to watch.

Afterthought : Maria Bello acted as Mrs. Smith in a little known TV series called Mr. & Mrs. Smith, on which the movie was loosely based. The Mule is a character in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series.

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