Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dhoom 2 Review : Return of the masala movie

The nineties were a much more simpler time for us movie-goers. We didn’t demand much and the filmmakers were more than happy not to comply . Action movies consisted on one fight scene after another , tons of fake blood, outrageous laws-of-physics defying stunts and a wronged protagonist sworn on revenge( usualy due to the death of the mother/father/sister)

Ajay Devgan making his entrance on two bikes...with one foot on each .

Akshay Kumar...The khiladi... pherhaps the ony bollyoowd star to take on the Undertaker ( Galat panga liya tune undertaker , apne baap se !!! grrr!!!) , a
sumo wrestler , jump from a moving plane , a hot air balloon , and mud-wrestle with Rekha .

Suniel shetty , star of manly revenge dramas...Raghuveer , Mohra , Takkar , Vinashak.

And any move having more than 1 hereo ( a mullti-starrer in those days ) was sure to have gastric-ulcer inducing masala... Mohra , main Khiladi tu anadi , Waqt Hamara Hai !!!

But why am I reminiscising so much?? Well because after watching Dhoom 2 , I felt that I had seen the only true Masala Action Movie this year...Don tired to be suave and cool...Krrish had the alien superpowers...this one tosses all attempts to be subtle out the window and goes all out to be a masala entertainer!!

The story consists of a international super-theif "A"( Hritik Roshan ) whose only ambition in life is to steal priceless artifacts so that he can , literally , leave his mark on the world( The scene where the three cpos are discussing this is 100% filmi-grade masala at work ). Aishwarya Rai as Sunheri is the female super thief who wants to be associated with A .

In comes meterosexual he-man super-cop Jai Dixit( Abhisheik bachan ) and his bumbling partner Ali( Uday Chopra) who are assigned along with man-hunter Shonali( Bipasha Basu) to nab the dyslexic super-thief .

With this semi-interesting plot , we are treated to the loudest , most hackneyed Hindi action movie since DUS.

The main actors , with the exception of Hritik are not required to act much . Abhisheik reprises his role of the not-so-angry young man of Dhoom , while Uday brings some much-needed comic relief to the movie . Bipasha has what can best be described as a very very extended special appearance. She doesn’t bring much to the movie , and is missing for almost the entire second half . Ash is competent enough as the accomplice .

The movie belongs to Hritik and overshadows the other actors most of the time he is on screen . he gets the coolest gadgets , the most awesome stunts and perhaps the only serious scenes in the movie that actually require some acting to be done .
The stunts are brilliantly executed ,and among the best seen in Hindi movies till date, though they don’t make much sense . (a submerged Abhisheik surfacing from underwater using a jet-ski...10/10 for style , but was it really needed ? ). The robberies are daring but have glaring and quite obvious logical flaws ... in the very first scene , "A" steals the crown jewels of a generic firangi Queen form a moving cool , you say . But the jewels are lying in an open room with only two security guards. I would have brought my safe along .

The robbery form the museum. It was well executed...but how the hell did he get outside the museum form a roomful of guards?? That sequence has been left to the audiences imagination .And why didn’t he just get out the way he came in ??

The worst part of the movie has to be the songs. Looks like Pritam wasn’t inspired enough. ( They are really out of place a. only the title song and to a certain extent “Don’t touch me”and “dil lagana” were any good . they only slow down the pace of the movie . The choreography is good but the costumes from all the songs look the same an its simply a case of mix and match .

As I said before there are a lot of plot holes and logic takes a backseat in the proceedings. If you are the kind who likes taut and cerebral thrillers , it’s best to avoid this movie if you’re looking for that kind of thing in it. This movie also suffers from pacing problems and Bipasha’s character could have been easily deleted. the ending could have been a litle bit better .

Overall , I really feel that the original Dhoom was a tighter , better scripted movie . However , if you remember to leave you brain at home , this an enjoyable and strangely satisfying movie… the masala movie of the 21st century .

Friday, November 10, 2006

Gwen Stefani , I hope you see this...

This video is too funny . Deserves it's own post....

I want a curry and rice girl....B-I-O-D-A-T-A !

("Hollaback Girl" , in case your'e still Cluless)

Umrao Jaan Review: Where's the ada ?

JP Dutta is known for the length of his movies . His last movie (L.O.C) has the distinction of being one of the longest Hindi movies ever made . A running time of 4+(F-O-U-R) hours . 2 intervals. The longest song shown on-screen ( 13 min!!) . So it was not without some apprehension that I went to see his latest , Umrao Jaan (UJ) . Not that I have anything against long movies . Border . Hum Aapke Hain kaun . Khakee . Completely different movies . Different Directors . Different themes. All of them 3+ hours in length. But they’re engaging movies , which held your attention till the end. It just goes to show that even though a movie may be 3+ hours in length , it doesn’t mean that the movie is boring .

The verdict ? Not by any stretch of imagination is UJ a bad movie . In fact , it is one of the better movies to come out this year . But a movie 3+hours in length needs the little extra-something ( “je ne se quoi” as the French call it ) to keep the viewer engaged . And sadly that’s missing in this movie .

Since the movie is based on the novel of the same name , the director already has a good storyline to work with . He had already made it clear the he was not going for a remake of the 1981 movie . In case you didn’t know , it’s the tragic story of a girl who gets kidnapped form he village as a child and is forced to work as a twayif (courtesan).

The movie belongs to Aishwarya Rai . She looks absolutely stunning throughout the movie (reviewer bias? Sorry about that ladies. ) and has a air of grace , confidence and elegance about her ( You can easily see why she was Miss Universe ) Her acting throughout the movie was superb and is surely one of her better performances . She manages to convey the pathos of her (overly)tragic character with aplomb. But I felt that she was unconvincing in some of the scenes though ( She seemed quite happy to be chosen by the Nawab for her “services” , which I found a bit hard to digest ) Her dances were also quite good .

Abishek Bachan was good in the role of the Nawab (Her main love-intrest) . He has that mixture of arrogance and confidence that’s required of a nawab. Although I found the scene where he stabs a another customer after declaring himself as a genuine Pathan offspring quite hilarious(Not what the director intended , I’m afraid) .

Most of the supporting cast is competent . But the one who stands out the most is Shabana Azmi , who as the Madame of the brothel , dominates every scence that she appears in .

A period movie demands attention to detail and authenticity . In this aspect , I found the movie to be a bit underwhelming . The costumes were perfect and suitably extravagant . The outdoor sets conveyed the feeling and ambiance of 19th century , nawab-infested Lucknow quite nicely . The indoor sets , although looking quite good , weren’t good enough . They looked a bit lackluster and really could have been much better .I felt that throughout the movie the peripheral characters and extras were not used properly…somehow the extravagance , over-indulgence and thezeeb of the era was not brought on to the screen as it should have…

Anu Malik has composed some of the best music of his career for this movie . The songs and the accompanying mujras are excellent, with fine choreography , although Ash looks a bit stiff in some of the steps . This brings me to one of the major drawbacks of the movie. Though the mujras form an integral part of the movie, they are over extended and too many of them . Most of them could have easily shortened. The same thing happens in other parts of the movie.( More on that later. )

A movie based on a novel ( especially a tragedy like UJ) reqiues some deft direction to bring the story on screen and characters to life ( And not end up Like Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Devdas ) . Most of the scenes have been handled quite well by JP Dutta , with minimal melodrama and liberal use of obvious poetic imagery throughout the movie . Most are quite good , but some of the scenes and dialogues (very few ) seem straight out of an Ekta Kapoor soap opera. The liberal use of esoteric Urdu also makes following some of the lines a bit difficult .

But unfortunately he remains oblivious of the length of the scenes . The one with a drunk Abishek trying to argue with Ash being a case-in-point. Just like the Energizer Bunny , it goes on and on , and what sounded like a good idea on paper comes out quite flat on-screen.
Like an over-indulgent parent, JP Dutta just doesn’t know when to say stop. With some better editing , I really felt that 30 minutes could have been easily removed from the movie without affecting it much and giving a dramatic improvement to the pace of the movie .

I’d have to say that UJ is a fine effort . This is not the kind of movie that will be liked by everybody . It’s quite bleak and depressing . It’s definitely not a time-pass or masala movie . I f you liked morbidly tragic movies like Chandni Bar or Omkara , you’ll probably like this movie too . The biggest drawback is it’s 3 hour running time .There aren’t simply enough really interesting moments to fill up those 3 hours. How ever if you’re patient (and stoical) enough to sit throughout it , you’ll find it a somewhat rewarding movie. Don’t watch it expecting another UJ(1982) or Memoirs of a Geisha ( a movie with a similar plot. . Quality and in artistic accomplishment in commercial Hindi movies does not exist anymore…

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jaaneman Review : doesn't take itself too seriously

When I first saw the trailers for this movie , I thought "Oh no , not another of those stupid love triangles! No way am I going to watch this !" . But after a few good reports from my friends , I thought that it might be worth it , so I decided to take a chance …. And boy was I in for a pleasant surprise!Far from being a mushy love-triangle , this turned out to be a well made , funny , unusual and most importantly entertaining movie. To be truthful , I have never seen a love-story presented in this way before( At least in Hind movies ) .

The plot ? well it deos'nt really matter much in this movie . Salman Khan plays Suhaan, a struggling actor , and Piya’s(Preity Zinta) ex-husband . After a series of extremely contrived circumstances he ends up helping ,along with his Uncle (Anupam Kher) , NASA Astronaut( that’s not a typo!) Agastya Rao (Akshay Kumar ) fall in love with his ex-wife so he doesn’t have to pay her alimony .Its as simple as that . The amazing part is , it works .

When the first scene opens with Agastya and a blond soviet female astronaut,in an orbiting space-station, you realize that this is not a movie to be taken seriously .

The film has been very creatively shot . I loved the first two song sequences where the extras and dancers literally jump into the song sequences .The "fourth wall" is conveniently ignored throughout the movie . In one scene Salman even mentions to is uncle that the flash-back sequence is going to start , followed immediately by one of the walls of the room being turned into a movie screen… which Salman Khan calmly steps into .

In another sequence, the trio are interrupted as a qawali group steps out of the wardrobe and proceeds to provide the background music for the song. These wouldn’t be out of place in a Tim Burton movie.
The movies constantly weavers between reality and fantasy , and it all looks really nice thanks to some great camera effects , and slick editing work , which I really cant recall in any other Hindi movie . Sometimes even the lighting and backgrounds change according to the characters reactions ! The sets are also pretty nice and colorful .

Most of the humor is the tongue-in-cheek variety , with the director gleefully taking pot-shots at established filimi conventions .To say that watching this movie a would require some suspension of disbelief is an understatement ! For e.g When Salman Khan questions his uncle about getting money for his flight to New-York , his uncle immediately withdraws a big wad of cash from his pocket , saying that it was the money he was saving for his wedding. A tearful salman khan accepts the money , promising to get his uncle married as soon as he returns . As soon as Akshay Kumar makes his entrance , a halo appears over his head .
Since this is a love story , you have you emotional moments too...they're pretty well done and not overly-melodramatic . Most of the emotional scenes are in the last half hour . I loved the last part of the movie , where Akshay finally gets his lady love ( it's too cute. )

Akshy and Salman have a good screen presence and on screen chemistry . Akshay's geeky laugh was just perfect . Slaman's also given quite a good performance...the boo-boo diapers scene being a case in point .
On the downside , the movie is a bit stretched . Two of the songs could have easily been taken out of the movie or shortened . Few of the joke are are bit lame too. other than that , it was really hard to find fault with this lovable movie.Its too bad that this movie was presented as a love story...I'm sure it would have done much better if it had been presented as a comedy movie instead of a love triangle .

If you're the kind who looks for moving performances, meaningful cinema or you're a cynic who enjoys ripping apart movies for the smallest mistakes , then this movie is not for you. This is the kind of movie where you just sit back , relax and enjoy the ride . i f you liked movies like Andaaz Apna Apna and Deewan Mastan , then you'll surely like this one too .

Go for this movie if you're looking for a very uniquely made and light hearted romantic comedy