Archive for October, 2012

Chakravyuh


Chakravyuh
Release date: October 24, 2012
Directed by: Prakash Jha
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Abhay Deol, Esha Gupta, Om Puri, Manoj Bajpai, Anjali Patil, Murli Sharma, Chetan Pandit, Kiran Karmarkar, Kabir Bedi, S.M. Zaheer

Surrounded by the Kauravas, Abhimanyu is lynched by the ‘chakravyuh’ and Arjuna sees light and rides onto his stallion into the battleground. This is what Mahabharata signifies the importance of chakravyuh as. Does this film actually stands true to its supposed symbolism? A few more paragraphs, perhaps.

Set in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh and its surrounding states, Prakash Jha presents an urban tale of Naxalism with a strong undercurrent of a moral dilemma situation between its protagonists. Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal) is an honest and daring cop. His wife, Rhea Menon (Esha Gupta) is also a cop and works with him in the same department. Adil and Kabir (Abhay Deol) are thick friends and the former even pays for the latter’s college fees through his own scholarship.

A small tussle of egos is depicted with utter irreverence and a feeling of being irrelevant to the subsequent plot. Adil is posted in a Naxalite area, Nandighat and he takes the challenge head on, he eventually creates a plan with Kabir to help him infiltrate the Red Army and make him work as a police’s rat. Kabir, being the volatile rebel, slowly immerses himself into the skin of a Marxist.
Rajan (Manoj Bajpai) and Juhi (Anjali Patil) along with Murli Sharma – whose character’s name I can’t recollect, ¬†sorry – are the heads wanted dead or alive with a bounty on them. They are at the front of Naxalite operations in Nandighat where Adil is newly posted. Om Puri plays Govind Suryavanshi, who is their spiritual and ideological leader.

The actual story of Chakravyuh isn’t the struggle of the Naxals in their own country or the pressing of innocent civilians between the crossfire of the Government and the rebels. It’s the collective infighting of a countryman against another one of his own tribe. There are a lot of moments that border on fringe polarization and straightforward sensationalism, creating a painful view while those scenes last. The background score and the limited music are exceptionally loud most of the times, again, painful. The dialogue isn’t too memorable for such a bold venture as well, but it isn’t quite too finicky and old either.

Overall, Chakravyuh is a well-intentioned film that left this viewer underwhelmed. The film somehow never carries on to that ‘next level’ and the first half turns out to be very slow. Hence, pacing into the climax. ¬†Though bold in its approach (not exactly) and names (yes, totally) with Mahanto, Nandighat you know what Jha’s aiming for, but eventually the film lacks the required finesse.

Chakravyuh is a smarter film compared to a lot of its competition, but that can’t be reason enough for everyone to watch it.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5)

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Argo


Argo
Release date: October 19, 2012 (India)
Directed by: Ben Affleck
Cast: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman

Amidst the sounds of Sultans of Swing and When The Levee Breaks and Dance The Night Away of the ’70s, a serious hostage situation is focused upon. Ben Affleck presents the Iranian conflict with a literal Hollywood punch.

Argo has the U.S. Embassy in Tehran under siege of the Iranian mercenaries and fifty officials are held hostage for a period of more than a year. Meanwhile, six employees manage to escape with Iranian applicants for American visas through the backdoor. Their identity records are incinerated and shredded to hide the fact that they’ve managed to run away from that scenario. The six escaped officials seek asylum at the Canadian ambassador’s residence.

The CIA is in need for an immediate rescue plan to get them back to their homeland and for that purpose they bring specialist Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) on the scene. Faced with absurd return routes for them, Mendez suggests they produce a fake sci-fi film on the lines of Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, Star Wars and Star Trek. Then starts the secretive assembling of a false production crew and office for the very fake film.

The four member lawful gang of Hollywood prosthetic artist John Chambers (John Goodman), producer Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin), Mendez’s supervisor Jack O’Donell (Bryan Cranston) and Mendez himself, float a film studio and create a whole script and a string of characters to enact the entire screenplay at a press conference just to lend credibility to their movie. On the other hand,the Iranian captors try to get the shredded documents in place to check if any of the captives have escaped promising a tight finish to the end.

Argo is Affleck’s baby and with him present in almost all of the film’s powerful moments, his character Mendez is a smooth operator with never getting into unrealistic action sequences. Except for the side personal track of his separated wife and son there’s not much emotional questioning of his persona. Goodman and Arkin have an enjoyable chemistry in the first half where the most memorable line , probably is, “Argo fuck yourself”.

The portrayal of the major players of the plot isn’t slick mean straight, instead it captures the strong nationalist sentiment of the Americans and mixes the real-life footage from Iranian protests and White House speeches giving it a true period film feel. Let go for a few cinematic liberties into the realistic events, Argo is a tight and entertaining film right from the start. Catch it as soon as it lasts in your neighboring theaters along with the current plethora of releases.

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

Aiyyaa


Aiyyaa
Release date: October 12, 2012
Directed by: Sachin Kundalkar
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Prithviraj, Nirmiti Sawant, Satish Alekar, Anita Date, Jyoti Subhash, Amey Wagh, Subodh Bhave

Aiyyaa is so …. Aiyyaa is so ….. Aiyyaa tells us …. Aiyyaa is exactly like this. Slow and only entertaining in bits. An assortment of eccentric characters makes the premise for Meenakshi’s (Rani Mukherji) family. Meenakshi herself doesn’t lack in color and has a dreamland where she slips into at the slightest of chance.

Built on this, we are shown a woman who’s about to married off by her parents i.e. Meenakshi and her discoveries at a new job in an art college. Appointed as the co-librarian alongside Myna (Anita Date) whose water bottle Jumbo is known by almost everyone in college. Myna herself is the proclaimed John Abraham obsessed desi version of Lady Gaga.

Meenakshi crushes over a student Surya (Prithviraj) and eventually falls in love with his fragrance and entire personality except for the fact that they can’t make a conversation. Possessed by his presence, Meenakshi becomes enchanted with his habits and everything he does. She even follows him to his place to make out if the rumors about him are true.

The stalking never stops and Meenakshi tries her hand at learning Tamil by watching Midnight Masala and reading Tamil books. Meanwhile, her family keeps on with their parade of potential grooms and finalize on Madhav (Subodh Bhave) as Meenakshi’s most able suitor. Madhav’s character also doesn’t fall short of details and eccentricities but this is where the film falters. There are a lot of ‘funny’ and actually funny characters and situations without much of an actual plot to the entire film.

Aiyyaa wanders on for long periods of time with the same sequences repeating over and over again and with the limited plot of the film making it more intolerable in those parts. There is nice camera work, symbolic shots, good performances and stellar musical composition but all of this falls short for the lack of a strong story.

There are points in the movie where you realize a lot is going on without paying full attention to what actually is happening, and the abundance of eccentricity cannot fill for this. For instance, Meenakshi’s grandmother (Jyoti Subhash) is a victim of such overkill, where she’s laden with a gimmicky appearance and a role to play within the scope of her short screen time.

Aiyyaa is, like I earlier said, entertaining in bits and pieces. There was lot of potential in this, but it’s now not fully tapped into.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

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