Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani Review - Meri Ankhon Mein

How people determine what is right, what is wrong, what morals are, how far one can go to reach their goals is completely subjective. It would be silly to think you can pinpoint every variable. For years, the concept of what is right and wrong with relationships has been depicted on film in what this writer calls an obviously biased approach. Relationships can be made or broken and reformed no matter your background, your upbringing, your educational capacity or even your emotional tolerance is. Or simply, to each their own. But, they are what they are and that is entertainment. Some appeal by making you think or feel, others make you dance and be alive. How does this all come back to Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. Well, that's where the story comes in.

You see, there is a love story here. Its obvious from the promos. But thats not what this is about. Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) wants to live. Every day. Every moment. And the world his destination. He's not the only one in his world of excitement, travel and wonder. But that is what he calls home. Some people are like Naina (Deepika Padukone), who scurry to finish their education to get a job but secretly wish for excitement to happen. What happens when they change paths. The first time? Naina finds fun, excitement, friendship, love and herself. The second time? Bunny regains lost loves, learns new lessons of life and finally let's go of his guilt. Neither is wrong. Neither is better off. Neither is the same after the interaction. Because that is what life is about. A decision you make from your own conviction at one stage of your life, may not be the right one for you later on in life. This doesn't mean that it was wrong to begin with. Just that the time and the people have changed.

Incredibly simple, but thought provoking. That seems to be the key to understand Ayan Mukherjee's Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani. Naina falls for the full of life Bunny but just as she was about to reveal whats in her heart, Bunny follows his to make his dream come true. Is she wrong in not saying how she feels? No. In fact, I personally have seen people walk away from relationships, be it friends or lovers or just family, because they didn't want to hold them back. Just like the dialogue, they are just different. It isn't the norm but this is what you can see happen in the house next door. Granted, they wont be wearing designer outfits nor have professional make up artist to look beautiful in every frame. But there are adults out there, who wish the loves long gone all the best and take away just the memories of good times.

Now not everyone will see a message first when you package this in a film with a vibrant Pritam's incredible OST, 4 incredibly beautiful people, who are supposed to be like you and me, then turn around and show epically spectacular scenery as if we all wake up next to the Swiss Alps. For that, Ayan would have to be excused of cinematic liberties. But can you deny that the little nuances in Ranbir's recap of his father's passing, or Deepika's exasperated "Ma" at the dinner table or even Aditya's outburst at Ranbir . Even Kalki jumping into the bromance hug between Ranbir and Aditya is something I have done innumerous times. No matter the trimmings and the actors capacity, the cast of YJHD is perfect for their respective character. Ayan makes you feel for them and believe them.

At the end of the show, even if you walk thinking its a time pass film with an awesome soundtrack, so be it. But after the glitz and glamour bore you, you might find yourself reminiscing. Who know, you might even end up opening your own mithai ke dabbe. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rangrezz Review

*** This is a repost of the review ***

As the director of the 2008 National Award winning Tamil film,Kanchivaram and many other classics, Priyadarshan needs no introduction nor to be questioned if he can sparkle up the screen. But not everyone remembers this and time is what it is. Although not nearly as breathtaking, Rangrezz would probably fall into the same category of films he directed as Aakrosh andTezz, showing the serious/realistic cinema side of him. A remake from Tamil, it stars Jackky Bhagnani, Priya Anand, Vijay Verma and Amitosh Nagpal in lead roles. The original film, Naadodigal, has been remade into 4 other languages since its release in 2009. But the key here is whether Rangrezz will see the same success.

Now, we have seen our fair share of movies in Hindi cinema that depict love birds and the selfless friends that help them succeed in their love story. Yet, have we ever seen what happens to these friends AFTER the escapade they venture on, all in the name of friendship and their belief in that four letter word- LOVE. Rangrezz is about 3 men that step forward for a friend and take on the battle against the odds to get him his girl. And, after risking it all, shattering their own dreams and even losing part of themselves, what happens when they find out it’s all in vain.

This isn’t sob story. Nor is it an artsy film. It’s a commercial film. Street slang, comedy sequences and even a desi version of PSY’s Gangnam style is there but the major difference is, this is the kind of story that not only sheds light to how devoted a friend can be but also, how badly that four letter word is abused and how not every friend is worthy of a sacrifice nor every friend willing to let that fact slide.

The refreshing aspect of the film is that life is bound to introduce you to one or more of the characters in Rangrezz. A young man who dreams to go abroad. A father who is more like a best friend to his son. A girl who gives ideas to her sweetheart so she can marry him with her father’s approval. All of them. Seen them, met them or even are them. But the world isn’t perfect and there is a flip side of human nature, even if we don’t own up to it. There are those that will use and abuse that four letter word like newspaper. Purists will say love is divine and the same for all but life will show the emotion is tailored to each of us. Priyadarshan sheds light to this fact and the best bit is that it’s not an attack on love but the lovers themselves. Add in the blind faith friends go by and the outcome of inadequate understanding of relationships in a fast-food, faster-life generation run society that can and has changed lives and BOOM, Rangrezz.

With a topic that is relatable yet rips the mask off to show reality, it is imperative to have a cast that breathes life to the characters. Jackky Bhagnani plays Rishi Despande and shows much more promise (even if he still needs to work on his emotions) than his last film Ajab Ghazabb Love. Priya Anand was last seen in English Vinglish and if anyone missed her then, you will surely not miss in the role of Megha Joshi. She is cheeky cute and full of beans in a 3rd person talking role that you will learn to love. But along with Jackky, it’s his two friends that stand out the most. Amitosh Nagpal and Vijay Verma as Winu and Pakkya respectively, couldn’t be more worlds apart in their characterisation. Yet, they work amazingly well together, with Vijay stealing a little bit more limelight for sheer brilliance. Rajpal Yadav is almost a regular on Priyadarshan’s films and gets a few good lines but disappears after a while.

National award winning director-cinematographer Santhosh Sivan joins hands with Priyadarshan after almost 15 years and for those that remember their last venture, Kala Pani (dubbed as Saza-E-Kala Pani), you will remember how delightful their work together was. Rangrezz doesn’t skip a beat to their tune and its gritty dynamics make the film. With the base of the original story by director Samuthirakani intact, Mushtaq Sheikh tweaks the screenplay just enough to keep the authenticity and adaptation on par but while the adjustment is admirable, the film does flake in parts due to predictability and length. The realism in the first part of the film doesn’t continue consistently in the second, adding the woes. The editing by T.S.Suresh could have saved the film in those moments, but sadly does not, making it hard to keep the interest that the film secured in the first part.

Unfortunately, there are more woe points with the OST consisting of 2 composers. First we have Sajid-Wajid, who have clearly missed the bus on this occasion and Second, Sundar C. Babu, the original movie’s composer, making his debut in Hindi. The only song that stays with you is Shambo Shiva Shambo by Sundar which is also from the original film. Lyrically, it’s changed but the song has travelled with the story and has been used in every remake. So while OST has a 2nd version by Sajid-Wajid with Sukhwinder Singh on the mike, the impact Shankar Mahadevan has on the song is obvious and consistent as he sang for every other version of this song as well.

Dont get me wrong, Rangrezz is definitely a film to watch. Even if the diluted message may not hit as hard home as the makers wanted it too. But take along your friends for good measure, and to make up for the rest.

Our Rating:  2/5

Monday, June 23, 2014

Jai Ho Review

*** This is repost from review *** 

Take any day in your life that you wish you had a helping hand. A day you may have forgotten your wallet, when you needed to pay for your bus ticket. A day your car broke down, when you had to go to an interview. What if a stranger gave you that helping hand? No questions asked and in return, didn’t ask for money or a favour. Just that you help another when the chance came to you. Would you? Jai Ho shows us how a common man that left his army life, takes on the fight to help humanity, and for a bit of masala, bashes a few bad guys along the way.

Based on the concept from Pay It Forward (2000), A. R. Murugadoss’ designed the power packed story for his film Stalin (2006). Being the remake season that it was (or is) the film’s bumper success made it to the ever watchful eyes of Sohail Khan but for one reason or another the film got delayed until now.

Now in the past, we have had some questions about Salman Khan’s movie choices and stories, but reassurance comes in the form of Sohail Khan helming the megaphone and Dilip Shukla adapting the story for Hindi cinema. Yes, the film has some funny caricatures in the form of the nephew Kabir (Naman Jain), Rinky’s mother (Resham Tipnis) or Rinky herself (Daisy Shah) with her random Gujarati dialogue. But the story is simple and with a message worth thinking about. One man, whether he is a common man or an ex- army officer, can make a change. Of course when that man is Jai Agnihotri (Salman Khan), who stands up and fights with the ferocity of a lion if he needs to, you can expect a few bloody faces. Even if that bloody face belonged to the minister’s (Danny Denzongpa) son-in-law to be.

Salman Khan has always done action filled roles but of late, he has been accused of not having a character as such and taking over the camera. Yet Jai Ho will show a restrained Salman without the slapstick comedy emotion. The fire that would be apparent in a fighter is believable, but that’s not to say the actor doesn’t smile or have fun. Even though Daisy has no role to speak of besides the leading lady, she shows promise that at least she is a good dancer. Tabu plays Salman’s sister and as an actress that we have seen don various roles, she fits the part and plays it well making sure she is mature in performance even though it is not clear that she is mature in age to Salman.

Nadira Babbar as Salman Khan’s mother makes a funny entrance and continues to add comical value with a practicality that we as individuals will hear ourselves say sometimes. However, as much as the protagonist characters show some sort of ‘character’ and have a few meaningful lines, the same cannot be said for the antagonists. Danny Denzongpa is serious in face yet lacks in word. Whether his character is supposed to be a verbose villain or not, he doesn’t leave the required impact a political villain would give. In fact his daughter played by Sana Khan, showed more promised of cunningness that a female antagonist would have but also falls apart due to lack of screen time.

The individuals that make cameos like Tulip Joshi, Mahesh Manjrekar and Nauheed Cyrusi play their part in the miniscule amount of time they get given but Genelia Deshmukh’s cameo as the handicapped student Suman leaves the biggest impact and not just on Salman.

Yet while the performances collaborately work together toward pulling the film toward box office success, there are certain technical aspects that pull it back. The editing, done by Harsh Tiwari, worked when looking at the crispness of the action scenes and the slow motion ‘ultra-violence’ that any action film goer would enjoy, but it is too long for the story line that is in front of the audience. The music by Sajid-Wajid and Amal Malik leave as big an impact as a needle in a haystack: You might find them by chance likeable but literally forget them once the song is done. As big as “Dhinka Chika” from Ready was, it’s composer Devi Sri Prasad returns with simply an introduction song for the leading lady. However he too falls down the same forgettable path. However kudos is to be mentioned for the stunts and cinematography as both of them excel in their respective fields whether it be smashing buildings apart or designing a complex for us.

The biggest factor that this writer walked away with when watching Jai Ho was the fact that it does something that hasn’t been seen in Hindi cinema in quite some time… providing a message. There is no doubt that the action would have been enjoyed by some people, the comedy by others and investors are out there to make money. But the idea that a favour is repaid by instructing others to help as it was shown in Pay it Forward and now in Jai Ho is something that will utilize the world’s biggest asset: the People.

So to the Bollywood film lover who wants to see a Salman Khan film, you will enjoy this as you will see him in a ‘slightly’ different role but just as much action to keep your eyes popping. But don’t be surprised if that message lingers in your mind.

Holiday Review

*** This is repost from the review***

Sometimes it’s a curse when you watch various language films. Especially when the remake season churns out yet another one. You rely so heavily on the writers and the actors to give you something to enjoy and walk away with. Walking into Holiday was like that for this writer, but alas, she didn’t walk away with much. In fact, after watching A.R. Murugadoss take Ghajini from Tamil to Hindi, I was more scared. Scared to expect anything like Ghajini’s history. Well, history did not repeat itself and the magic of re-creation has failed.

The story is pretty simple. Military man Virat played by Akshay comes home for holidays but stumbles into a terrorist game plan. On the side we have Saiba played by Sonakshi Sinha for the funnies and some glamour. But it doesn’t take a long time for people to see where the connecting dots are. So we step into the “how they did it”.

Making a frame by frame replica of film may seem like the easy way out. But it wouldn’t be fair on Cinematographer Nataraja Subramaniam. The similarity isn’t as bad when it came to the songs. Why didn’t they choose to change it? Possibly for the same reason there is little to no change in the script. After all, everyone wants their movie to be a grand success. So maybe the director, who is also the writer for both the original film and this remake, is looking at something flawless. The truth is however different. And the falling flat in your face-ness continues with Pritam. Barring ‘Aaj Dil Shayrana’ and ‘Ashq Na Ho’ for Arijit Singh and ‘Tu Hi To Hai’ for Benny, you have heard them all before. The format is the same.

Now we all know this is nowhere near one of the finer movies in Akshay Kumar’s career, but he made use of the skills he has and when the camera shifts from cinematic perfection to security camera footage, you know the person jumping from building to building is the real deal. Kudos to Greg Powell, the stunt director. Sonakshi Sinha starts off with a spunk that quickly fizzles out, making her part redundant and indication for a song. Sumeet Raghavan is pretty much a gags guy until Akshay needs support in making a logical link. But you can bypass these flaws if you look at it as a semi-masala flick. However, the biggest drawback in the cast would have to go to Freddy Daruwala. He has the most crucial role to play and should be oozing with a deadly menace in his silence but I got nada. Zilch. Not even the background score could make you change what you are supposed to feel – shivers down your spine intensity – to what you do feel – Pappu needs to sulk a bit more. Every cinegoer knows the hero’s impact will only look good if his villain has charisma to charmingly scare your socks off.

At the end of the day, the original film with Vijay Chandrasekhar and Kajal Aggarwal had a few advantages that were simple. There was no expectation of logic, the role of a military man was new for the lead actor and the antagonist played by Vidyut Jamwal commanded fear on screen. There is no doubt Akshay Kumar has the skill for the role but I’m sorry Akki, you need to remember your age when its showing. So while comparisons were never the intention, as a hindsight, you wonder if A.R.Murugadoss had done the same when remaking the film in Hindi, Holiday may have seen a different fate.

So where does this all leave the girl in the crowd reading her ticket stub outside the theatre? Holiday – A prepaid planned disaster.

Humshakals Review

*** This review is a repost from review ***

There are some movies that can be remade with current trends/technology and made to suit a new generation of viewers. Who knows, they can even be a cult classic in themselves. But to walk into a film with the byline ‘A Film Made By Sajid Khan’ is to forgo that notion and a few rights. The rights to have logic in your dictionary, the right to any real wit or sense of humour and the right to have a threshold on how much crass writing you can bear.

There is no point in making a mention of a story since there is none. In fact, films like Double Dhamaal and Rascals had more of a story than Humshakals does. Sach. Three sets of Saif Ali Khan, Riteish Deshmukh and Ram Kapoor, foreign locals, impossible situations, three beautiful ladies with no screen presence at all and a soundtrack to put you to sleep. That is all this film is about. Even the idea of dressing the three main actors as women has been done a trillion times before.

It’s understandable that slapstick comedy has its audience and Bollywood cine-goers take a particular fancy to it. It’s also understandable that some comedy isn’t required to be rocket science. But Sajid, how many times are you going to think the audience is stupid enough to take you seriously as a director? There is literally nothing in this film that you haven’t seen or heard before. Actually there is. The new is the level of stupidity on film. And while I can accept that not all great movies have brand spanking new stories, as a lover of comedy, there is no excuse for long-winded, haphazard writing that leaves the mind numb from sheer torture.

None of the actors could possibly save this horseplay infested film. Saif looks so disinterested, he’s sleep walking. For an actor who has shown wit in his comic roles, this film is a huge step backwards. Yes, Riteish has done questionable comedies before, you can’t say the man hasn’t been the diluted saving grace. Ram Kapoor gives a 5 second interesting performance in a negative shade and then that vanishes once again. Both him and Riteish, and the locales, are about the only decent aspects of the film but that too is only barely.

Tamannaah Bhatia is still fairly new to Hindi cinema but if this is going to be her path to selection, her future will be skeptical. The same goes for Esha Gupta, since wearing skimpy clothing and bikinis doesn’t amount to acting skill. Oh Bipasha Basu, what can be said that hasn’t been said already? Beyond the wish that these lovely ladies think twice before selecting a film like this.

A song that is heard by the heart stays on your playlist for longer than a song stuck in the mind. The negatives continue as Himesh Reshammiya decks out the tunes and literally, you forget them the minute they are heard. A shame since that’s where Himesh used to stay, once upon a time. Rameshwar S. Bhagat doesn’t help the cause as he forgets to cut out a lot of the nonsense writing, making the film an unbearable 2 hours 40 minutes. But its not like he had the best material to work with. Which brings us to the main culprit, our director. A director that started with Housefull and didn’t rest till we saw a Housefull 2: Dirty Dozen, and threw in a Himmatwala in between. Sajid Khan had the wit to take a dig at his own film but forgot to learn from it.

So am I biased? No. Did I have any expectation. No. Will I recommend Humshakals to anyone? Absolutely NOT. Not even to my own humshakal.

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