Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Movie Antakshari - Masoom (1983) - Movie Review

The Movie Antakshari, an attempt to recollect Bollywood's most memorable films, brought to you by EatPrayLove and Bolly Hoodis now in full swing. We're almost a month into it now but here's a quick recap for the ones who've just joined in.

The Movie Antakshari is much like the song antakshari that, I'm sure all of you have played at some point - school trip, college canteens, office cafeteria. For the ones who haven't, this is how it goes - Pick a song and the next person picks a song with the last alphabet of your last word. Easy? Just replace 'song' with a 'film title,' which is what we're playing here. 

Here are the entries until now - 
Bolly Hood, left me once again with 'M.' So here goes my pick -


Masoom (1983)
Based off Eric Segal's novel Man, Woman & Child, Masoom released before I was born but I remember watching it over and over with my mum on our VCR. It was one of her favorite films. I never completely understand it then. Today as I watch it, 20 years hence, it brings back memories of how I'd cuddle up with her and watch the film while trying to make sense of whatever I possibly could.   
The beauty of Masoom lies in how delicately delightfully first-time director Shekhar Kapur explores relationships - the tensions between a husband and a wife, the tenderness between a mother and a daughter, the bond between a father and a son. Naseeruddin and Rahul's (played by Jugal Hansraj) father-son chemistry works tremendously and is one of the reasons why you should watch the film. There's also baby Urmila Matondkar in this film playing Naseeruddin's daughter but it's his younger daughter Aradhana who's the more vibrant and noticeable of the two. You'll love her for her playful ways. 
While each character is appreciable, your heart goes out for Rahul. His onscreen presence is enough to move you. Unfortunately, Hansraj hasn't had much success in films after growing up. [I saw him in Mohabbatein, Papa Kehte Hain, Salaam Namaste (cameo)].

Masoom, while being a good film, also gave us some of the most memorable songs. Lakdi ki kathi (I'd be surprised if you haven't heard that song as a kid), tujhse naraaz nahi zindagi, do naina ek kahani thoda sa baadal thoda sa paani.

Overall, what works is that Masoom goes beyond the the cliched Bollywood clutter. Next time you hear someone rubbishing Bollywood, you know what to recommend!

@Bolly Hood - It's over to you now. And the letter is 'M.' Go for it!
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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rockstar Review

Rockstar definitely doesn't live up to all the ballyhoo it created. Or probably, Imtiaz is a victim of his own success.   

**  After proving himself in films as assorted as Sawariya, Rajneeti, Bachna Ae Haseeno and Wake up Sid, it's no surprise Ranbir delivers without a hitch. His Janardhan Jhakar act is as convincing as the maverick, non-conformist Jordan. It's truly his film and if it does turn out to be a hit, it's courtesy him. 

** Ranbir-Fakhri chemistry. Bollywood's long lost charm in a love story is back and how! And quite like Jab we Met, there are no cliched 'i love you's' and 'do you love me.' 

** The film has got an amazing look and feel. The cinematography is slick. The Kashmir scenes and the stage shows, particularly, are shot brilliantly. The magnanimity of it is over-whelming.

**Rahman lends soul to an otherwise dry film. Had it not been for his music, (I would've been asleep halfway) there isn't much for Rockstar to bank on. Kun faaya kun (which has been so beautifully woven into the film) and the shehnai-guitar jugalbandi between Shammi Kapoor and Ranbir is NOT to be missed.
** Nargis Fakhri robs the film off its what-could've-otherwise-been some of its very  precious moments. Add to that her dialogue delivery, which is mostly gawky. Her character is weird to the T. There was nothing amusing about the whole 'junglee jawani' thing which was played up a bit too much. Her idea of fun is as quirky as her character. A distorted version of Katrina, Fakhri was an appalling choice for a role like this.

** The screenplay is as random as it could get. Tediously lengthy, Rockstar could've been wound up far more quicklier.

** The film gets going on a strong note but dwindles midway leaving you in the hope that it would eventually pick up pace, which it does, but that's only short-lived.

** Most characters exude staleness from Piyush Mishra (who's a brilliant actor otherwise) to Fakhri's mother. 

Despite the grandiosity of it all, there was something missing in the film. It leaves you wanting for more. Strictly for Ranbir fans. Others wait for the DVD.

Here's the song that's been on a repeat mode in my head ever since I left the theatre.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

RAJ: Aditya Chopra's Love Trilogy

After our DDLJ post, I started to re-watch the only three films directed by Aditya Chopra.
In Bollywood, love is a given. It is the foundation of every blockbuster. Without a love story, the characters have no motivation. No likability. No impact on the audience. And a hero who doesn't love can't save the world. He can't fight 100 thugs without a scratch. He can't survive after taking 5 bullets.
A hero who doesn't know love can't be a hero.
And if you have lived in India in the last two decades, you may have noticed (or will notice post readin this) that the words "hero" and "love" have been moulded into one idea: Raj.
Aditya Chopra introduced the idea of Raj to the world in 1995 with Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. DDLJ's Raj is the ultimate lover. He will do anything for his love. But he has one condition, one ingredient that makes him Raj: he will always do the right thing. Whether that is to respect the girl's parents' wishes, or saving (read: not killing) the bad guy who is trying to steal his love from him. He is a man every women (presumably) would want. With this Raj, and with DDLJ, Chopra set up the benchmark for love stories.

So, a quick survey about DDLJ (with answers due to the one-way-ness of this discussion) :

1. Is it the greatest love story ever told?
2. Is it possible to make a better complete story (one with the right blend of action, drama, comedy, good music, and romance)?
3. Is it possible for the person who masterminded this film to make an even better love story?

The answers:
1. Yes.
2. No.
3. Yes, but let me explain.

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Friday, November 4, 2011

The Movie Antakshari: Yahaan (movie review)

Thank you for all the love on the Movie Antakshari featureHere's a quick recap - 

The Bolly Hood began with HuM. I followed with Maine Pyar KiyA and he took off with Amar Akbar AthonY.

Hum (The Bolly Hood)

Maine Pyar Kiya (EatPrayLove)

Amar Akbar Anthony (The Bolly Hood)

The Bolly Hood left me with a rather tough choice. Y. But Yahaan made things simpler. I only picked up the film recently. 

Yahaan is an impassioned love story set in strife-torn Kashmir. Captain Aman (Jimmy Shergill) falls for Adaa (Minissha Lamba), a Kashmiri civilian. For him, it's love at first sight. But it isn't fleeting. "I want to grow old with you," he tells her in one of the letters they exchange. The consequences, however, will have to be borne. 

It's not unusual for Bollywood to not give its fair share of due to films like these. Watching the trailer, I too thought of it as another 'fluff and froth.' But Bollywood always suprises and Yahaan came as a pleasant one! A simple story (with a heartening message) treated commendably well. I wish the makers had worked as hard promoting the film. 

I first saw Jimmy Shergill in Mere yaar Ki Shaadi Hai but wasn't convinced of his acting skills until A Wednesday happened. This was followed by Tanu Weds Manu (where he did a cameo) and Saheb Biwi aur Gangster. His every act has superceded his last. He's inarguably one of the most versatile (yet the most under-rated) actors in the industry. Minissha Lamba delivered a fairly decent debut performance. [Child artist Juhi's (playing Lamba's sister) presence is tough to ignore. Watch out for her in the scene where she breaks down after her house is bombed!]

All in all, if you've missed it, Yahaan makes for a snug and cozy weekend watch.

That leaves The Bolly Hood with 'N.' Get going! 

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

My romance with DDLJ

For the Hindi cinema-ignorant, DDLJ is short for the inimitably popular (and one of the most sought after hindi films not just by the celluloid cognoscenti but film lovers worldwide) Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge.

I vividly remember that day. It was pouring hard. Unusual for the month of November. We drove as fast as we could to catch the evening show of DDLJ at Chanakya. All the way from Gurgaon. PVRs and the likes didn't exist then. I'm talking 1995. We had singleplexes playing four shows a day. (Thank God for small mercies like online booking today!) 

I had waited long to see this one. I didn't want to miss it. As our car pulled up outside the theater, we rushed to the ticket window hoping to get lucky. "How many", he asked? "4", I yelled back, cutting out the noise around me"What row?" I inquired. "4th from the front," he replied. Far far away from the balcony, I wondered. I grabbed the tickets, nevertheless. I'd get to see SRK closer ;-) Little did I know I was going to be doing another round at the same theater next week). 

Today, as I write this piece, 16 years hence, DDLJ gets me as excited. I've seen countless romcoms come and go - the ones I watch, re-watch, fast forward through to my fav scenes, cut to my favorite songs....Jab we Met, Salaam Namaste, Saathiya, Hum Tum, Band Baaja Baraat. But frankly, DDLJ is something I can watch over and over, without touching that remote.

What works? 

The SRK factor He stole my heart in Darr and Baazigar (despite his negative roles). Karan Arjun, which came months before, DDLJ, fortified his hold in the industry. With DDLJ, SRK was labeled the king of romance, earning yet another title to his credit. And the rest as they say is history. [Tidbit - Aditya Chopra's first choice for SRK's role was Tom Cruise. Tom Cruise? I wonder what he and Kajol would have looked like together. Yash Chopra however, convinced Adi against it. Sane decision, Yashji!].

Shahrukh-Kajol pair Kajol's first film Bekhudi was a box office failure. She stepped into limelight with Baazigar (1993), her first film with Shahrukh and a hit. They were later seen in Karan Arjun - which went on to become the second highest grossing film of the year. No points for guessing the top grosser of that year. DDLJ! Their third film together. 

Perfect cast. From the lead pair to heavyweights like Amrish Puri, Farida Jalal, Anupam Kher, all meaningfully contributed to what-would-go-down-as-an epic love story in the history of Indian cinema.

Music. What better way to express, than music, in Bollywood? From tujhe dekha and na jaane to mehendi laga ke rakhna, every song effectively captured the mood of the moment and propelled the film forward.

Treatment. All love stories can look and seem similar somewhere but this was fresh and appealing! Be it the Europe tour, or the scene where Chutki (Kajol's sis) warmly shows her support for Raj "Didi, mujhe voh chhat vala bahut pasand hai" or the one where Shahrukh allays Simran's mother's fears of her father agreeing to their marriage, or the karvachauth scene on the terrace, or the predictable, yet engaging climax, Adi has put together a memorable piece of work. 

The film completed its 16 years of running on October 20, 2011 (the longest ever in the history of Indian Cinema).
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