Archive for March, 2012

Why It Stays Lukewarm.

I am writing this purely as a fan & I won’t make any references to kayfabe like the dirtsheets & other computer wraaastling mafias do.

I was around 5 when my dad showed me Kane fighting inferno matches, and those bouts scared the shit out of me just because of Kane’s mask & his daunting appearance. I started watching wrestling 2 years later hooked on with some WCW as well. Having missed out on the Austin 3:16, I was heavily into The Rock. Austin was one of a kind, trail blazing messiah for the ailing WWE, but Rock was E-lectrifying! (Electrifying)

I saw The Rock and cheered him even during his villain run. Whatever he did, I was a fan. Around that time, The Mummy Returns came out featuring him. Everyone at my school was totally into anything that the Rock did. Around 2003, the number of mainstream appearances & movies kept on increasing. All of his movies were shoved down my throat by the aggressive marketing that the company did. Soon, Rock was gone. No formal announcements, no goodbye speeches. I started looking for a new guy to watch the show for.

Brock Lesnar went past like a bristling wind, along with Goldberg. Evolution was a great stable of 4 villains (Triple H, Ric Flair, Batista & Randy Orton) Shawn Michaels had always been there. It took a while for John Cena & Batista to come out of the pack as the new flagbearers of WWE. Cena was also one-of-a-kind with his rapping skills & jorts. By 2005, Cena almost became “the guy” as he completed his draft to Monday Night Raw. I confess I became a believer in his “Hustle. Loyalty. Respect.” until he squared off against Shawn Michaels, that was the point where Cena started getting the boos from the crowds.

From that match, precisely Wrestlemania 23, Cena wasn’t the gushing hero with all the people chanting in his favor. This continued till the time he squared off against Edge. Cena’s hated for the continuously same persona that he exudes. My argument starts here, even The Rock had a line-up of catchphrases up his sleeve that he used to gain an instant reaction from the crowd. Then why target Cena for the monotony?

I continued being a viewer rather than being a fan of a particular superstar until last year (CM Punk’s cult promo) but Cena-Rock did provide for some excitement.

Cena made a few jibes at The Rock that resonated for my feelings for the Rock. He made a few valid points. Rock started his own anti-Cena tirade with constant references to John’s apparel, lifestyle and what not. Slapstick entertainment? Yes. Long term interest? No. They did virtually nothing to build this “Greatest match of all times” until a cameo from the Rock at Survivor Series and few more catchphrases thrusted as arbitrary trending topics on Twitter.

I still couldn’t buy into the real reason behind this feud. It appeared just a one-off match to garner eyeballs, no personal angst as opposed to what they claimed. Kung pao chicken, Rock concert & “Trending worldwide” sucked. The Rock delivered a promo under a statue of Rocky Balboa, that’s where it really started. The Rock gave the reason for winning this, he had to defeat three generations of superstars to become the greatest of all time. This gold was late-found though.

The week after that, Cena and Rock made a great final build. Rock said “I simply don’t like you” at the end of it, I scratched my head again. I still couldn’t figure out the reason why he doesn’t like Cena. This is where this feud fails for me. Cena gave a practical reason for his issues with the Rock. I somehow figured out why this match is important to The Rock but I couldn’t understand why he hates Cena.

I’ll be watchingWrestlemania 28 because I am a year-long viewer and not for this “Clash of titans”. Hope it turns to be as great as it is expected to be.

Agent Vinod Review

Agent Vinod
Release Date: March 23, 2012
Directed by: Sriram Raghavan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Kareena Kapoor, Gulshan Grover, Ram Kapoor, Shahbaz Khan, Ravi Kissen, Prem Chopra, Dhritiman Chaterji, Adil Hussain.

As the film starts to roll, you get a quote from The Good, The Bad and The Ugly: One name is as good as another. Not wise to use your own name. One more reference to the mother of all classics drops by as a character’s ringtone is Ennio Morricone’s masterpiece. That was enough to get this viewer hooked on for the next hint of excellence. Vinod (Saif Ali Khan) is a secret agent (I hope I get the prize for being Captain Obvious here) he tries to be a turtle that doesn’t seem to be affected by the water on his back.

He cons his way out of tricky situations dangerously with all the oomph that James Bond could propagate with all of his arm-candy. There are a lot of charming beautiful women, one in Afghanistan, another one in Russia but their Hindi appears a few notches better than most of our current semi-Caucasian imports. Vinod is out to avenge the loss caused by Abu (Ram Kapoor) and his henchmen. Vinod disguises himself to find gateways into what appears a major threat to multiple nations’ security. The obvious loopholes start appearing. Not too cringe-inducing though. Yet.

Dr. Ruby Mendes (Kareena Kapoor) is a very complicated character, never really revealing what/whom she is working for. The first half ends at a point the viewer is bound by a clingy loose thread. That thread keeps breaking as the story advances. Sriram Raghavan constantly uses that odd old Hindi song that he always does, but doesn’t quite get the same magic of Ek Haseena Thi or anything closer to Johnny Gaddar. The movie pulls itself into a partial abyss, making it very difficult to ever come out of it. There’s a monumental feat that Vinod pulls out, a few thousand feet up in the air, but everything becomes insignificant.

Raghavan always gets his cinematography right, he does that this time as well. Sadly, that cannot hold the film string with its plot getting weaker as it progresses. The climax of a thriller film has to be a major draw, this is where this viewer stops caring altogether. Everything reduces to caricatures of all sorts. All potential for a slick & quick paced action film is totally down the drain.

Agent Vinod comes out as an avoidable film. If you have nothing to do this weekend, and you’ve already seen Kahaani and Paan Singh Tomar, I advise you to stay at home or catch Agent Vinod for Kareena and the few foreign import beauties along with the varying exotic locations.

My Rating: ** (2 out of 5)

Kahaani Review

Release Date: March 9, 2012
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Darshan Jariwala, Indraneil Sengupta, Saswata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Early posters of Kahaani proclaimed the film to be “A mother of a story”, and I was fairly titillated just by that. I wanted to know if it actually proves itself to be that good. The promos have built up a lot of scenes, but none of them really give out the thrill & suspense associated with them.

Our protagonist Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), rechristened as Bidya by the local Bengalis everywhere she goes, is the heavily pregnant woman searching for her husband Arnab Bagchi. She is a software engineer who’s armed with her charm and nonchalant smile. Her reports are brushed off as just another case of a missing person by the police, until Satyaki (Parambrata Chatterjee) tries to help her out. He tells her, in Kolkata, everyone has a moniker and they are never referred to by their real names. Together, they recce every place that Arnab had described, but no one could validate his claims of being there.

Vidya holds her beliefs strong, and insists that the world is lying. It is this belief that makes her ruffle feathers of the intelligence and the powers that be. She soon realizes everything is far more complex than what appears on the front. There are layers of red-tape on her quest for her husband. The story goes on to encapsulate you within its cocoon and provides a strong self-descriptive narrative that never requires more than a few light lines & a smile from Vidya.

There are neither any jarring sound effects during the highly concerning scenes, nor there are umpteen pillow-grabbing crying sequences with songs playing at the back. Nothing is irrelevant. Though I won’t say the same about the film’s climax & its justification. Vidya Balan yet again gives a performance that leaves you gasping to catch more of this woman in the future. The ensemble cast, as shown yet again, is the major binding factor for a story to move around smoothly.

The duration of the film never remains an issue as you go through the motions. The crowded metropolis of Kolkata finds an artistic appeal through Satyajit Pande’s camera work. Overall, it is a coming-of-age story that shows us the transition that our films need to go through.

I rate it as a must-watch for getting the basics of story-telling right & coming out to be a mother of a story. (Never mind the climax)

My Rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

Paan Singh Tomar Review

Paan Singh Tomar stillPaan Singh Tomar
Release Date: March 2, 2012
Directed by: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Mahie Gill, Vipin Sharma, Imran Hasnee, Rajendra Gupta

An athlete is driven by higher amounts of inspiration and adrenalin which can only be compared with that of a possessed gun-flashing rebel. The finishing line or the result can only get them to salvation. Paan Singh Tomar (Irrfan Khan) is a no-nonsense disciplined army man who will take even a run around the planet, if ordered by his seniors. He’s seen as a very tough nut to deal with due to his dacoit lineage & Paan’s discerning pride of that, he speaks what he believes in. Paan’s running skills which he’s oblivious of, until they are discovered Major Masand (Vipin Sharma) proove to be a powerful tool to get him off the rolling lists and into the army athletics. 

Tomar travels the world and earns medals, he gets addicted to the finishing line.  The 1965 war is up on the country, and Paan yearns for his call to serve the motherland that he loves; only to be told that the military sportspersons cannot participate in the battle. Back in his village, his cousin is running wild with his seven licensed rifles and berates Paan in front of his brother Matadin (Imran Hasnee) and other villagers. He vandals their fields and brandishes all his metal-covered muscle. Meanwhile Paan, who was kept from serving in the war, wanted to satisfy all his desire. He’s said to be double the age of his co-participants, but still pulls together a win that makes him realize that his time with the games could be over. 

Concerned by all his family disputes, Tomar decides to take up early retirement. Matters get worse, and Paan is subjected to apathy from all quarters he seeks help from. He creates a troupe of men, which includes his god-fearing brother Matadin, Matadin’s son and a few more oppressed youngsters. The fire of vengeance reaches its fulfillment to some extent, but race still isn’t over. It is still a race for him and he strives to reach the finishing line. 

Irrfan Khan breezes through with the local dialect as if he was born into it. Tigmanshu Dhulia ranges the depth of Paan’s character from subtle to vociferous and abusive. Never falling out of line with the story’s needs. The film remains intriguing and evokes a certain amount of empathy at various points. You are provided with English subtitles, since the dialogue dabbles with a lot of local terms. Paan calls himself a Baaghee (rebel) and never a dacoit. This is one biopic you cannot afford to miss out on. 

My Rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5) 

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