Archive for September, 2012

OMG Oh My God


OMG Oh My God
Release date: September 28, 2012
Directed by: Umesh Shukla
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Govind Namdeo, Lubna Salim, Murli Sharma, Mahesh Manjrekar, Poonam Jhawer

More than any other source of rationale, the internet and different forms of entertainment have caused the most amount of disbelief in our respective faiths. OMG Oh My God borders on the lines of agnosticism, atheism and theism and the fake godmen business.

Adapted from a Gujarati play Kanji viruddh Kanji (Kanji vs. Kanji) OMG is a tale of an atheist Kanji Lalji Mehta who ironically runs an antique store where he stocks idols of Hindu Gods. Kanji never leaves an opportunity to gain a quick buck off the believers’ blind faith. His wife Susheela (Lubna Salim) is also a ‘god-fearing’ woman who disapproves of her husband’s tactics.

Kanji plays another game off the faith of the people on the occasion of Janmashtami angering a religious guru Siddheshwar Maharaj (Govind Namdeo) which leads Kanji’s family to believe that an earthquake that damaged only his shop was a punishment by God. Soon, he discovers it was indeed only his property that got affected. Being the one who never easily gets discouraged, Kanji files for a compensation from his insurance company.

As his claim gets rejected because the earthquake was an ‘Act of God’, Kanji decides to file a case against God. This is where the actual plot kicks off. Mehta transcends on to a path to make his case work when no lawyers offer their services. Akshay Kumar plays Krishna Vasudev Yadav or GOD! and helps out our protagonist to defend himself in a life-threatening attack on a motorcycle, a chopper bike! The whole sequence isn’t an action masterpiece but it kinda suits the production value of the film.

The second half of the film provides more content to the main lead’s fight against God and the eventual fight with the parasitic God’s men i.e. a few more Babas, a Mata and Muslim maulanas and a priest from the Church. Kanji becomes a mass hero for similar sufferers of a horrible calamity meted out on them by ‘God’. The film shows a journey of a non-believer who finds God in his own being and more importantly of the rich God’s ‘men’ who fool the God-fearing and self-beneficiary tycoons alike.

This story’s underlying theme is a much stronger one than the overlying virtue of believing in God. The early portions of the film aren’t too special, heck even the later serious sequences aren’t too magical either, but there are small glimpses of symbolism and the Kailash Kher song is a strong epiphany of that. Paresh Rawal does a fine job of balancing his portrayal of a sarcastic and ever-inquisitive rationale. The ensemble cast also supports him, except for a few bits of hamming.

OMG Oh My God borders on downright mainstream and socially enlightening applause-fest. The overall film connects but somehow you won’t see anyone taking it seriously.

My rating: **3/4 (2.75 out of 5) 

Heroine


Heroine
Release date: September 21, 2012
Directed by: Madhur Bhandarkar
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Govind Namdeo, Harsh Chhaya, Shahana Goswami, Mugdha Godse, Sanjay Suri< Rashmi Nigam, Lillete Dubey, Ranvir Shorey, Helen, and a few Bhandarkar regular junior extras.

Stereotypical gay characters, the usual “You bastard” utterances from the female lead, and extreme portrayals of every circumstance are what you expect from a Bhandarkar film. And you do get them! But there’s obviously more nails in the coffin of this ‘heroine’. (All the pun in the Bhandarkar universe intended)

Heroine is a tale of a delusional and insecure actress Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) who’s struggling with her professional and personal life alike. But hey, there HAVE to be sidetracks that don’t mean anything to the narrative of the film. So Mugdha Godse plays some Riya Mehra who is also a rising ‘heroine’ and somehow you get a bisexual male director/producer in an after-coitus scene with a guy who just has three syllables in his verbatim, i.e. bro, dude and babes. He also delivers a line about how the zipper of one’s pants and lips should always remain carefully locked in the movie industry. WOW.

Mahi has a small support staff of three people on the move: an overtly gay fashion designer, a bitchy good-for-nothing-does-nothing friend Rats, and a secretary Rashid bhai (Govind Namdeo) This support staff appears and disappears with no reasoning and logic when our protagonist’s life is hit by hard times. But she still has a personal bar, iPhone, Blackberry, beautiful apartment and a bartender-cum-cook-cum-cleaner-cum-human-robot. If you’re troubled by my use of hyphens in that sentence, that’s how I felt while watching this film.

The caricatures never end. There are tons of inward pointed controversies picked upon here. Almost every controversy EVER! Ranvir Shorey plays an independent small time film director Tarun and gives Mahi achance to act in his first Hindi feature. Here Mahi is in a state of breakdown and in the process of getting back up. Oh wait, she’s always in a state of breakdown. Shahana Goswami tries to guide Kareena’s character to bring out her inner passion for ‘acting’ and slips into a small lesbian sequence. By the way, we have a new symbolic reference for two ladies making out in our films now, it’s two glasses of wine kept together and the women pass on to the bedroom. I hope the gay men don’t complain cos there’s finally a lesbian and bisexual reference as well.

Heroine is a compilation of the worst possible scenarios from different real stories all rolled into one. Nothing good happens. I’ll have to pick out one, for the sheer idiocy of it – Mahi is in the middle of a big spiral downwards and she reaches at an orphanage to adopt a child. Sushmita Sen won’t like it. And I’d advise all of you to contemplate on adopting a child whenever you’re staring into a deep abyss of financial instability and mental trauma. Helen plays out Shgufta, a yesteryear actress who ALSO tries to guide Mahi.

Kareena’s character never really grows with you to make you feel any kind of pain or sympathy whatsoever, because she’s been screaming and screeching right from the start. Heroine remains immature, crass, unrealistic and even stupid at some points. Unrealistic because it just encapsulates every goddamn issue/controversy/hardship that anyone has ever faced in the movie industry in the form of a handful of people.

Heroine is so bad I’m falling short of adjectives to tell you how Bhandarkar it is.

My rating: * (1 out of 5)

Fire in Babylon


Fire in Babylon
Release date: September 21, 2012 (Releasing this Friday in India)
Directed by: Stevan Riley
Cast: Sir Vivian Richards, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Joel Garner, Andy Roberts, Deryck Murray, Desmond Haynes, Bunny Wailer

From the beaches of Jamaica to the cane fields of Barbados, the appearance of a lanky boy bowling at the top of his speed is something not uncommon. The islands of the Caribbean collectively called as the West Indies are connected by a common thread of cricket and that’s what Fire in Babylon is based on.

As Bunny Wailer from Bob Marley & The Wailers starts to tell us how it all started, you get a taste of Rastafarian English when he’s asking the out-of-frame dog to go away. Fire in Babylon begins from the early struggles of the Blacks or as they were referred to – ‘slaves’ – against their colonial masters. The emergence of cricket is similar to its origin in India, i.e. brought upon by the rulers. The English royals.

The newly independent Caribbeans found some expression of growth through the left-behind sport that they learnt from their masters. They became famous for their entertaining playing style and soon got caricatured as the fun-loving, easygoing, “Calypso Cricketers”. Faced with the monstrous Australian pace bowling duo of Dennis Lilee and Jeff Thomson, the West Indians returned back dejected and disgruntled. Thereby forcing their captain, Clive Lloyd, to dig deeper to find a way out of the growing frustration of the players and citizens alike.

Lloyd countered bullet with bullet, and built his own quartet of speed demons, consisting of Michael Holding, Joel Garner, Colin Croft and Andy Roberts. This group terrorized world’s batsmen with the same bowling agenda that the Australians had devised and excelled at it. The story goes on to tell how the legend of the West Indian dominance in cricket helped to grow the morale of the Caribbeans and the suppressed Africans. Fire in Babylon covers almost the entire extent of problems faced by the West Indian cricket team, from the racial slurs to payment issues.

The infamous “grovel” remark by Tony Greig is depicted with the same passion that the West Indian team replied with in the seventies. Every low point is accompanied with a successive struggle and victory. The Apartheid situation where the West Indian players were invited to play in South Africa shows the conflict of emotions and interests between two different ideologies of players and the society. On one hand Croft chooses to play in the banned country to earn a livelihood, Viv Richards stands up for his African brothers and refuses to play even after being handed a “blank cheque” .

The running interviews of the said former players are laced with local ditties by the West Indian musicians who pay tribute to their cricketing heroes. Near realistic footage of the matches help in creating a closer-to-life feel. Fire in Babylon doesn’t even require you to be a cricket fan, let alone a cricket-nerd. It’s a tale of emancipation and eventual inspiration. but it never keeps a dead-faced emotion throughout the course of the film, there are a lot of light moments which downplay the serious tone of the film.

With archive clips of Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Bob Marley and Kerry Packer, Fire in Babylon covers the range of important personalities associated with West Indian cricket and thus creates a universal appeal for the documentary.  It has been almost two years since it released overseas, which is quite a shock given the cricket fanaticism and fandom in India.

Fire in Babylon is the epitome of uprising of West Indian cricket and the cultural impact that it held in the Carib and other countries as well. Give it a watch for the extra-incentive of brushing up your cricket history.

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

Barfi!


Barfi
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Directed by: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D’cruz, Saurabh Shukla, Ashish Vidyarthi

Amateurish mime, fun rides along the inner scenic regions of Darjeeling and tests of friendship are what Barfi! is laced with. The film moves from Darjeeling to mainstream Kolkata (Calcutta) in the ’70s, thereby creating a young independent India developing in its technology and outlook. But hey, this isn’t a lesson in history, Barfi! is an amalgamation of simple emotions contrived in a heartwarming motion picture.

Murphy or Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) as he is fondly referred to, is a deaf-mute youngster who never falls short of ways to make his charm work. Murphy shares a pure connection with his father Rajbahadur which is nothing but purely frolic. Barfi asks his dad to stop guzzling on a bottle of Old Monk Rum and then sneaks the same bottle into his bed. He also has a unique way of ascertaining his friends’ loyalty towards him.

Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz) is an engaged young woman,  about to be married in the next three months but yet to grasp the arrival of a man in her life. In a fun encounter, she gets acquainted with Barfi and soon a friendship develops between the two. The pair of friends go on their own small adventures where Shruti tries to make the most of her single days by making late-night escapes to gallop on a horse. The loss for words between them never makes a short for feelings. But the inevitable fate doesn’t change its track and soon things go on their own predetermined paths.

Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) is the third generation offset of the affluent Chatterji household. She struggles with autism and that’s reason enough for her negligent wealth-drunk parents to avoid her. Jhilmil is admitted to a house for the disabled where she finds some real affection and care even though at a price. Circumstances force some things on all of our protagonists and now Jhilmil is with Barfi.

Barfi! (Here, the film) is what happens in the sub-plots and the overlaying sidetracks. There are so many powerful moments with a varied range of emotions casting their impact simultaneously that you simply cannot hold your tears or your smile. Barfi! plays on the disabilities of its main characters and concentrates on their special abilities, you almost never care about the dialogues.

The story shows how everyone deserves a second chance and how ‘unconditional’ love should be actually unconditional and oblivious of the repercussions: economic, social or whatsoever. Already much has been said about Barfi!’s melodious soundtrack, but the accordion-violin band players in the narrative of the film along with the silent comic scenes pay a tribute to Charlie Chaplin. For the casual viewer, the length of the film might prove to be a bit long. But if you live with the characters, you’ll never want to leave your seat.

Barfi! adds another accolade in Anurag Basu’s list and heavily decorating Ranbir, Priyanka and Ileana’s acting credentials. Barfi! is a must watch for its rich tribute to film making and textured simple human emotions.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5)

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