Sunday, November 18, 2007

Om Saawariya Om

Om Saawariya Om
Two big releases of 2007 – that too, Diwali release. The promotions were all over the place, with the lead actors coming as chief guests on almost every other show on television. Talks about SRK’s six-pack and Ranbir’s butt. Comparisions between Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor. The hype was high, enough to ensure a huge opening. I could not see these films till late because I was celebrating Diwali with my folks. Till then, I had read enough reviews that praised OSO and ridiculed Saawariya.
Now, after seeing both films, I felt that OSO disappointed big time and Saawariya was not “that” bad.
Both belong to the same genre. Surprised? Yes, both belong to the genre of “self-indulgent” cinema. While OSO’s self-indulgence lies in flaunting SRK’s goodwill that can get stars to play “special” appearances, Saawariya’s self-indulgence lies in the opulence that can actually make the giant emotions seem small.
Om Shanti Om is no tribute to 70s, it is just a spoof on everything that has happened in cinema. Very conveniently, it starts with the tag “30 years earlier” and begins the post-interval with “30 years later”. They dare not use the tags “1977” and “2007” because the film starts with shooting of KARZ which released in 1980, shows Deepika dancing with Sunil Dutt of late 60s and also gives a hint of “Meri pyari bahaniya” being shot; from Sachcha Jhootha which was released in 1970.
But I don’t care about time and era. When we listen to stories as a kid and our mother starts with “Ek baar ek raja tha”, we don’t stop her and ask whether the king was of Maurya Dynasty or Guptas.

Saawariya can also belong to any time and place. It starts with Rani’s commentary that states that it is a city of dreams that exists only in her dreams. It’s like a singer going to stage and announcing before he starts singing that his throat is bad.
So, coming back to OSO, the spoofs work as they raise a few laughs but when it tries to get serious, it fails. So why try? Let it be a “Hot Shots” or “Scary Movie” kind of a film. Let SRK regaining his previous birth knowledge be a spoof or let the final revenge be a spoof. At least, give us an uninterrupted storyline where we can just laugh our hearts out.
Screenplay seems to be the weakest area in both OSO and Saawariya.
Saawariya is a visual delight. 2 hours 10 minutes of film contains 187200 beautiful frames. Each gesture, posture is staged to perfection. Few scenes are good, they touch your heart but in the whole film, they lose out on their meaning. Several scenes look like they are there just to showcase Ranbir’s acting skills. He is the find of the year, no doubt about that. The way he emotes, says his dialogues, dances, it’s amazing. Though I wonder, which guy newly-in-love will stand on the balcony and flash himself to the world outside.
If I have to select who had a better debut between Deepika and Sonam, I’d choose Sonam. Mainly, because Deepika had nothing much to do in OSO. She says her first dialogue fifteen minutes after she has been introduced and is re-introduced almost an hour after the interval.

OSO is a SRK film all the way. If you like him, you’ll like the film. As simple as that.
You’ll like Saawariya if you like going to musicals where each scene is written with an intention to introduce a song. Rani’s song “Chhabeela” is one such example.
As my friend Sudip said, out of numerous films released in an year, you can count good films on your finger tips. So keeping in mind the efforts that Saawariya has taken to create magic on celluloid, we should give it at least one star more than Om Shanti Om.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jab We Fell in Love

Jab We Met
I’ve watched Socha Na Tha 10 times. You can read my review of Socha Na Tha here -
I’ve loved that film and therefore I was expecting a lot from Jab We Met. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed at all. The film not only shows Imtiaz Ali’s growth as a storyteller, it also presents Shahid and Kareena as never seen before.
Two diametrically opposite characters Aditya and Geet meet on a train and their journey starts. One is nursing heartbreak while the other is looking forward to a life with the one she loves. Love happened. They don’t know when. You travel with them as an audience, experiencing their emotions, living their life. That’s the power of celluloid. You empathize with them, you laugh with them, and you cry with them, you celebrate with them.
This is easily Kareena’s best performance till date. There is always a risk in playing an overtly bubbly character. You end up looking like a caricature but Kareena knows the sharp edge she is supposed to walk on. Her character goes a major transformation post-interval and she just flows along. Watch out for the scene where she cries after calling herself Pagli, or when she abuses her boyfriend over the phone or the scene where she hugs Shahid minutes before the film ends. I doubt if this character could have been played by anyone else.

Shahid shows remarkable maturity. He handled all his scenes brilliantly and very subtly. Whether it’s his interaction with his mother, aptly played by Divya Seth, or the scene where he tries to make Kareena laugh by saying that he knows Karate, or the scene immediately after their intimate moment where he says, “Oye hota hai yaar!” You’ll just admire him with awe when he tells Kareena, “Yes I like you, but ye mera problem hai”.
Other characters that manage to leave an impact are Pawan Malhotra, Dara Singh and Rusty who plays Geet’s pretty cousin Roop. Tarun Arora gets to play an interesting character. You’ll get to laugh a lot at his expense.

Music by Pritam is very soothing. The picturisation of these songs are not only well-timed, they are also well-shot. Hum jo chalne lage, Ye ishq haye, Nagada, Tumse Hi are all testimony to this. Mauja hi Mauja comes at the right time drawing whistles from the crowd.
At the expense of nitpicking, I’d like to point out few flaws. Kareena’s excessive luggage gets miraculously transformed into a bag and a half. The second time she misses train needed a more strong reason. Shahid finds Kareena very easily in Simla. Can’t think of anything else but yes, I’ve carried home a memory of a wonderful film.
Imtiaz Ali manages to create wonderful film and a very smooth-flowing narrative. A big salute to him and the producers who trusted his vision. Jab We Met added to the list of my favourite films.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


I am still wondering what it was? Was it a remake, or a tribute or a spoof? Two and a half hours of disjointed scenes those neither impress nor express. The way Mr. RGV has taken the story forward; he has gone ahead with the assumption that everyone has seen Sholay. So he never bothers to etch out the characters, or establish the conflict or create drama. Each scene just comes and goes making you wonder whether it’s a remake of the original, or a tribute or a mere spoof.
I don't even want to list here, how the changes made in this "re-interpretation" have totally worked against the narrative. Or how the scenes that have been retained have become a poor parody... Let's just talk about this AAG... sorry! RGV ki AAG.
The background score that tries to copy Sholay goes insanely wrong whenever it tries to do something original. So here we have “Ye dosti hum nahi chhodenge” in the background when Heeru-Raj decide to go to Kaliganj, the mouth-organ piece when Raj looks “oh so lovingly” at Durga “Deviji” and the slow instrumental version of “Ye Dosti” when Raj dies. Most of the times, you’ll hear pieces of music that you’ve heard before in Bhoot, Vastushastra and other RGV films.
Some of the shots are interesting but nothing to carry home. May be just the one with Amitabh tossing the apple up in the air towards the camera. I am sure, I will come to know in a day or two that the shot was borrowed from some European film.
Amitabh Sir tries to be sincere in a role which can best be described as a caricature of Gabbar. His expression, just before he kills Jai, is amazing.
Rest of the cast, lesser said the better. Mohanlal takes pause within sentences thus changing the complete meaning of the sentence but who cares! Ajay looks like a retard every time he tries to be funny but who cares! Nisha hams so much you feel like shooting the screen but who cares! Prashant speaks in two voices. Surprised, may half way through the film, he joined voice-modulation classes. He should ask for a refund. But then, who cares! Sushmita Sen shouldn’t have done this film but then she isn’t doing anything in the film either so who cares!
RGV wanted to make this film and he did it. All that the critics and viewers can do is make fun of it after they have watched it. But again, if they have watched it once, RGV’s mission is accomplished.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Phir Dekhenge...

कुछ गुनगुने अहसास
मेरी साँसों की आँच में तप जाने दो
फिर देखेंगे
खुशबू में बसे ख़्वाब
मेरी पलकों के हिजाब में छिप जाने दो
फिर देखेंगे

पहले यकीं तो कर लूं, ऐसा भी कुछ हुआ है.
है खेल हवाओं का, या सच में तुमने छुआ है.
फ़िलहाल तो आँखों में सर्द आहों का धुंआ है.
हाथों का थोड़ा ताप
आँखों पर चुपचाप से मल जाने दो
फिर देखेंगे

ठहरी हुई यहीं पर, है कब से समय की कश्ती.
तुम तक पहुँच भी जाते, लहरों पर ग़र ये बहती.
चल चल कर चाहे रुकती, रुक रुक कर चाहे चलती.
फिर मोड़ हैं वही
बातें हैं अनकही, बस कह जाने दो
फिर देखेंगे

© S. Manasvi

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Naqaab – Plagiarized Intentions!

Picture this scene between Gael Garcia Bernal and Natalia Verbeke:

Gael : What harm is there if you see me just once? Would you like to see me beg? Believe me, I'm no stranger to humiliation.
[Gets on knees]
Natalia : Get up.
Gael : A coffee.
Natalia : No.
Gael : One glass of water. In a brightly lit public place.
Natalia : Nope.
Gael : Ok, we don't even have to talk to each other. We don't even have to sit together.
Natalia : Nope.
Gael : You sit on one side of the room and I sit on the other.
Natalia : Nope.
Gael : And if everything goes really well, we'll just wave to each other every once in awhile.

If you have seen Naqaab, you know which scene is this! Well, the synopsis goes like this:
Spanish flamenco dancer Carmen (Natalia Verbeke) is preparing to marry well heeled but dull Brit Barnaby (James D'Arcy). During her "hen night" at a French restaurant, Gallic tradition dictates she must bid farewell to singledom by choosing a man from those present for one final kiss. She picks out-of-work Brazilian actor Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal), and the earth moves for both of them.
While she's irresistibly drawn to the passion and spontaneity offered by Kit, Carmen goes through with the marriage, seeking stability and protection from her troubled past. But Barnaby's priggishness soon drives her into Kit's bed, provoking a drastic reaction from her betrayed husband.
However, appearances are not what they seem, and the story's layers are peeled back to reveal an elaborate sex-lies-and-videotape scenario of deceit, ingenuousness, remorse and self-serving artistic ambition.
Oops! I am sorry! That was the synopsis of “Dot the I” – the original film. But then, why should I bother writing an original synopsis.
Coming to Naqaab, the lead performances are good, editing is crisp, and length of the film two hours so all in all, it is watchable.
The twist in the tale is good. I have always liked the climax and anti-climax stuff.
***SPOILER*** There is a major blunder in the film – Akshaye Khanna’s VO refers to Bobby Deol as Karan where as he is supposed to know him as Rohit. Were the director duo sleeping when Akshaye was dubbing this VO?
Urvashi’s debut is confident and you’ll like her in the film. Akshaye’s tilted smile and sheepish grin works with the role so good for him. Bobby’s volte-face is good but his face isn’t. What happened to the Bobby who was supposed to have an Italian look?
As for others like Raj Jutshi, Vikas Kalantri (why is he still here?) and Vishal Malhotra, there’s nothing worth mentioning.
The smartest move was to keep the film short and with only three songs out of which, one comes during the beginning credits. So, enjoy this short and smart ride and have few laughs during the end scroll too which has all the NG takes!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

To jhoom or not to jhoom...

I was not interested in watching Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. I am not a big fan of either of the starcast and was certainly not impressed by Bunty aur Babli. To top that, my friends who watched the film came back and said- “Koi free mein bhi ticket de to mat dekhna”. Taran Adarsh said, “The film is all gloss, no substance. Body beautiful, minus soul”. Ever cynical Raja Sen wrote, “The first half is merely, mindnumbingly boring, while the second gets exasperating. And it's all so inanely wasteful. There's nothing wrong with making a madcap comedy. Next time, though, a plot would be nice”.
So yesterday I decided to see the film for mere sadistic pleasure. I thought I will laugh at YR films, Abhishek and company, and Shaad and say, “what a waste man!”
But by interval, the only thing that had irritated me was the presence of cheese popcorn in my bag of plain salted popcorn.
When the film ended, I turned to my friend and said, “Itni buri bhi nahi thi yaar!”
Okay, so let me tell you what worked for me and what did not. Believe me friends; it’s personal, not business.
I liked the basic plot and the story. I sincerely felt that such story should have had the Basu Chatterji/ Hrishikesh Mukherji kind of treatment. The over-indulgence killed the story.
The screenplay should have been tighter. Preity walking against the escalator and Abhishek getting a tattoo were the two scenes that fell flat on their faces.
Abhishek has done a nice job. Lara was awesome and Bobby for once was very entertaining. Preity needed to put more energy in her role, she was the weakest of the lot.
Lara and Bobby actually have more interesting roles, never mind the length. Lara with her French accent in first half and abusive tone in the later half stole the show from right under everyone’s nose. Bobby was the surprise packet. When I look back, I wonder if anyone else could have fit in this role. It was the perfect casting.
The film suffers because of overdose of Punjabi. The filmmakers take it for granted that the whole of India understands Punjabi!! The songs and major comedy scenes were in thet Punjabi. I could understand so I was the only one laughing in the hall which had all of 15 people as the audience.
Gimmicks like playing “main jat yamla” or “Ye dosti hum nahi chhodenge” did not work at all. Mr. Director, please refrain from such acts in the future.
Vaibhavi Merchant needs special mention for her choreography, especially the pre-climax dance competition.
Amitabh Bachchan could have been utilized as a Sutradhaar but he was only breaking into a song (though at right moments) and not carrying story any further. And what was the need of telling the audience how they started creating stories and all. Once we come to know that they were creating stories, we know very well where they originated from.
All in all, it is worth a watch. See it just for Abhishek, Lara and Bobby. Go with zero expectations and to avoid any regrets later, chuck the popcorn.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Basu Da

Last night, when I saw Basu Da being awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at IIFA, images of all his films that have deeply influenced me, played before my eyes.
Started with an off-beat film like Sara Akash, he was one of the pioneers of the parallel cinema movement. But he decided not to indulge into making movies that cannot be understood without a brochure and gave us middle of the path films. You'll realise what I mean if you look at his filmography -

He adapted literary works so well, whether its Rajnigandha from Mannu Bhandari's "Yehi Sach Hai" or Swami from Saratchandra's novel by the same name. Bernard Shaw's Pygmallion has been adapted to screen so many times but Basu Da's Manpasand holds its position.

His ear for good music can never be neglected. Just to mention a few:
Ye jeewan hai - Piya Ka Ghar
Rajnigandha phool tumhare - Rajnigandha
Na jane kyon - Chhoti Si Baat
Gori Tera Gaon - Chitchor
Ka Karoon Sajni - Swami
Koi Roko Na - Priyatama
Thoda Hai Thode Ki - Khatta Meetha
Kabhi kabhi sapna lagta hai - Ratnadeep
Suniye Kahiye - Baaton baaton mein
Rimjhim gire saawan - Manzil
Main Akela - Manpasand
Shyam rang ranga re - Apne Paraye
Jab bhi koi kangana bole - Shaukeen

Basuda, we need you to make a film again. Come out of your Banwaas.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Spidey gets sidey

After watching Spiderman-3 with my group, I got to hear response like "Ye to makkad ke sholay hai" or "Is bollywood standard rising or hollywood standard falling" or "Thoda filmy nahi ho gaya"?? But what matters is that the two plus hours I spent inside the theatre, I really enjoyed myself. The visual effects, breathtaking of course, literally made me jump in my seats. One shot even had me ducking when the glass shattered.
Toby goes chubby, tries to be cute but fails. Harry Osbourne was and remains my favourite. MJ looks devastated, being the damsel in distress. Sandman reminds you of The Mummy series. The black stuff was the real hero. It gave our spidey some cool moves, a new wardrobe and even made him a great dancer. So, from now on, whenever I'll do something evil, I will blame it to my black vest.
The film was paisa-vasool. I won't mind watching it again. They should try putting some songs in the hindi version. My suggestions:
1. मेरे यार ये क्या हो गया. सुनते हैं तू बेवफ़ा हो गया
२. या रब्बा, दे दे कोई जान भी अगर
३. ज़िन्दगी तो बेवफ़ा है एक दिन ठुकराएगी
४. बन्दा ये बिन्दास है

what say???

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Aisa Sama Na Hota

Listening to Aisa Sama Na Hota for the 100th time since last week, I've decided to analyse the song. For all my friends who have not heard this song, you have missed out on one of the most beautiful compositions of Panchamda. Sung by Lataji and penned by Anjaan Sahab, this song according me works on several layers. Right from Ronu Majumdar's flute in the intro music, the song hooks you and the next 7 minutes are mesmerising.
Lataji's input to this song is extra-ordinary. Watch out for her renditions of simple words like samaa and shabnam, the feelings she has put in "Aise gungunati, yoon na gaati yeh hawa" or the way she gives clue to the interlude after the first stanza or the way she ends the song.
Salute to Anjaan Sahab for coming up with a line like "Raahein wohi, vaadi wohi badla kuchh nahin
Phir bhi tere milne se hai duniya kyun haseen"...
This is one of the songs where after coming up with a wonderful tune, Pancham da must have sat with his team working hard on transforming a good tune into a timeless classic. The arrangement compliments the lyrics, the singer and even inspires the filmmaker to capture breathtaking locales for a song that actually takes you to the scenic mountains.
In today's world, where each and every song is made with intentions of playing it in a discotheque, it's a treat to hear a song like Aisa Sama Na Hota. Panchamda, why did you have to leave so early?

Friday, April 27, 2007

Ideas and Ideation

I have this brilliant concept for a film. Well, everyone has. The idea is always amazing but then I simply wonder where it gets lost by the time it becomes a script and then a film.
I have been watching films only on channels these days. I can watch a film alone only if its on television. To got to a theatre, I need to go with a friend, so that I can constantly comment. Anyways, I happened to catch many a flop films. Well, the idiot box is where they land eventually. They say such films recover their money through "Satellite Rights"... yeah, yeah, whatever...
But I must admit that many of these films had a good idea! Things got lost in the process. Loaded with unnecessary tracks and scenes, the basic problem was that these films were unable to hold one's attention. They forgot the most important rule - keep audience glued to the seats. The final product has to be crisp. It should be a journey where each and every moment is worth it.
You can have thousands of ways to lure public to the theatres but once the show is over, either the public has liked it or it hasn't. But unfortunately, the blame will go to director, actor, music and the producer will start making another proposal with another director, more saleable actor, different kind of music. The most neglected part will always be the screenplay.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

एक कविता

हमसे पूछो हमने इस गर्मी में जल कर देखा है

धूप से की दोस्ती तो छाँव को शिकवा हुआ
पड़ गये जो पाँव में छाले अगर तो क्या हुआ
आँच को अपनी हथेली पर मसल कर देखा है
हमसे पूछो हमने इस गर्मी में जल कर देखा है

पेड़ से छनती हुई किरणों से खेल खेला है
पीठ पर लादे हुए हमने अगन को झेला है
ओस में चिन्गारियों को भी बदल कर देखा है
हमसे पूछो हमने इस गर्मी में जल कर देखा है

Friday, March 23, 2007

As Graphic as it gets

I remember picking up a graphic novel by Frank Miller at Landmark (I like that place, good place to spend some time with books). Well, that was after Sin City had become such a craze and in every group, I used to be the only one who's not seen the film. I was booed with the same intensity and tone of the ad where the group shouts, 'Arre, ye PSPO nahi jaantaa"...
Well, I went through the graphic novel. It was a storyboard in itself. As the images hypnotised me, I said to myself, "there's no way, they can recreate this magic on screen".
I was so wrong. I saw Sin City today. Eyes glued to the TV screen, simply in awe of the visuals that flowed. You can call it a cult movie. You can say, its about a morally bankcrupt metropolis. Three different stories, many characters. But each one stays with you. Film Noir at it's innovative best!
I liked it when Clive Owen says, "Sometimes you can beat the odds with a careful choice of where to fight."
I have grown up on Amar Chitra Katha. Those illustrations have taught me sketching. They are also amazing storyboards in themselves. But its frustating how we have never achieved a masterpiece with our mythological tales which are full of action, drama, magic and what not!
Anyways, no point drifting from the topic. All you people, who haven't seen Sin City, believe me, the booing isn't for nothing. This is definitely a flick you shouldn't afford to miss!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Waves breaking on the shore

It was hard to remember when was the last time, I had felt really really happy! A moment to cherish forever. Then last night at around 1 am, I was at juhu beach, watching the waves breaking on the shore! It was high tide. A young kid was playing with the waves. It was quite obvious that he was enjoying it. Enjoying it to the core. I decided to do the same. It was a funny little game. He would run after the waves as they receded and run away from them as they followed him. I played that game with the sea for almost half an hour. And believe me, I got it. I got a moment which made me really really happy. Something that I will cherish forver.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Three hundred and counting?

Saw the much acclaimed and much publicised 300 yesterday. It's a visual treat. The high-contrast images almost create magic. A very believable war sequence between 300 spartans and millions of persians comprising of monsters and freaks. With each throw of spear and swishing of sword, you see body parts blowing up in air, and you are awestruck.

But trust me, how long can you just go on admiring the sfx. With the audience knowing each and every trick that has gone behind the creation, don't you need more to keep their eyes glued to the screen. Something much more than the bollywoodian cliche of wife giving her locket to the husband heaidng towards the battle... Something more than the "motivational" dialogues like 'Tonight, we dine in hell!"... Something more than the queer-looking Xerxes screaming aloud!

Well, the soul was missing.

The film wasn't half as inspiring as Gladiator or Troy. None of the sequences will stay with you after you leave the hall. But still, there are few dialogues you'd like to remember:

- Give them nothing! But take from them everything!

- Then we will fight in the shade

- Return with the shield or on it

I'd like to see the film "The 300 Spartans" released in 1962. Just to see how they'd have created the magic then, without the help of high-class special effects. They must have surely concentrated more on the emotional aspect, right?

PS: The guy who played Xerxes is Rodrigo Santoro, the same guy who played Karl in LOVE ACTUALLY. So here goes, full marks to the make-up guy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Annoy me please!

Went to see the play "Annoyance" at Tata Hall on the 18th of March. Decision to drive all the way till churchgate from Four Bungalows was not as bad as I had thought it would be. One and half hours of drive and a hundred rupee fine for "lane-cutting" (frankly, I had no idea such thing existed) got me to Tata Hall.
The play started at 7 but some people kept coming in till around 7.15. Believe me, that way I really like the discipline at Prithvi. The doors are closed well 10 minutes before the play starts. But here, even during the play, people were going out to recieve their phone calls.
Anyways, coming to the play. Well, I loved it. I laughed my heart out. Jagdish Rajpurohitand Nazneen Madan were amazing. Vivek Tandon sounded too british for the play.
Jagdish plays an annoying person who is believed to have developed ANNOYANCE as an art form. Nazneen and Vivek played a shrink couple who are at the recieving end. The first act involved Jagdish torturing Nazneen with his annoying antics. The second act showed Vivek losing his cool because of Jagdish while the third act was about Nazneen and Vivek getting even with Jagdish.
For me, the first act was the best. The character was being introduced and all the antics were fresh. The best part was though I was laughing at the shrink getting annoyed, I was also feeling sorry for her. The second act bordered at being repetitive and Vivek's performance bordered at going overboard. The third act was a relief again. When the two shrinks celebrate their victory, you tend to wonder whether the annoyance has been cured???
Before treatment, you'd have asked the character:
Are you really this disgusting, or you do this to annoy me?
After the treatment, you'd end up asking:
Are you really this stupid, or you do this to annoy me?