Archive for January, 2013

Race 2

Race 2 is awful.
Race 2
Release date: January 25, 2012
Directed by: Abbas-Mustan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Jacqueline Fernandez, Anil Kapoor, Ameesha Patel

While the filmmakers unite for more creative power and liberalization against the tyrannical censor boards and innumerable religious/ethnic groups, Race 2 comes as a breath of fresh, sorry, stale air. Race 2 should have been bludgeoned by the censor board for its bordering obscene (and cliche) lines and by the other social watchdogs to prevent the masses from being subjected to continuous nonsensical  exhibition of in-your-face trash.

Rather than specifying the non-existent ‘plot’ and the other painful details I’ll just tell you why Race 2 should be abhorred and detested as a piece of cinema, writing, acting, skill or any goddamn thing.

Race 2 sucks at all levels because:

  • A sharpshooter has a sniper rifle and he doesn’t shoot his target (Bipasha Basu) instead he shoots a bullet on the petrol tank lid. Lamborghini explosion, you see?
  • Saif Ali Khan’s character Ranveer Singh has blonde highlights and long hair in his entry scene and one song, while he continues to have completely black hair gelled back for the rest of the film.
  • Everyone looks like a million bucks. That’s not a bad thing, given that million bucks is the actual budget of each character’s costumes and appearance.
  • The usual complaint of “women being reduced to objects” doesn’t stand true, because every actor is objectified and specifically ordered to not act.
  • Anil Kapoor’s character Robert D’Costa answers Ameesha Patel’s “Tum ladki mein sabse pehle kya dekhti ho?” with a “Wo depened karta hai ladki aa rahi hai ya ja rahi hai.” Lifted. Boring. Stupid. Ancient.
  • The ladies have been asked to maximize on their assets. That means, each woman has her own USP body part. For example, Deepika Padukone’s legs in dresses with long cuts, Jacqueline Fernandez’s abs and butt and Ameesha’s breasts. Not that I am complaining, but after a point even that gets monotonous.
  • The dialogue is as predictable as a, I’m falling short of comparisons here. It’s hauntingly reminding of the 80’s vague lines. With bits of English peppered, it still remains drab and seriously underwhelming.
  • A ‘street fighter’ Armaan Malik (John Abraham) becomes a billionaire out of nowhere. BILLIONS FROM NOWHERE. And his step-sister – what would a Race film be without foster siblings who double-cross each other – Elena (Deepika Padukone) claims she’s helped him get those billions.
  • The twists are just like a children’s fantasy game, where everyone gains an upperhand continuously by claiming their weapon is more powerful. There’ an Audi with parachutes installed in it, more parachutes, CCTV footage, and at the end, ‘tere glaas mein zeher (poison) mila tha’.
  • And to top it all, last but not the least, a locker’s password at the St. Turin’s Church is ‘OBEYGOD’. Obey God. Are the nuns allowed to have a Facebook account?

But credit must be given where it’s due. Race 2 brilliantly carries forward the legacy of Race 1 with its incredibly stupendous amount of belief in the directors’ conviction to deliver a preposterous lump of shit. Race 2 also joins an elite class of worst films of all times.

My rating: * (1 out of 5)

Broken City

There aren't any other posters for this film!
Broken City
Release date: January 18, 2013
Directed by: Allen Hughes
Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Russell Crowe, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Jeffrey Wright, Barry Pepper, Alona Tal, Natalie Martinez, Kyle Chandler

In a city that could have been any place except New York as well, morals are compromised for benefits and that’s what forms the basis of Broken City. Set in the bylanes and bridges, especially bridges, of New York tells a tale of a few in-the-spot bureaucrats who’ve all got their own personal dilemmas.

Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg) is involved in a controversial shooting incident while on duty with the New York City Police. He is let off by Mayor Nicholas Hostetler (Russell Crowe) and police authority  Carl Fairbanks (Jeffrey Wright) Seven years later, Taggart is a private eye detective now and he’s running high on debts. After much fending and seeking, he’s contacted again by Mayor Hostetler, who’s also involved in a few potentially disdaining decisions. He offers him $50,000 to spy on his wife, Cathleen Hostetler (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and find out who she’s having an affair with.

Cathleen is a human rights commission head who simply says something about ‘not being bullied by the powerful’ at a summit and without any background you’re expected to believe that the statement was against her husband’s bet to sell off Bolton Village (a part of NY city) for four billion dollars. Soon Kathy (Alona Tal) – Billy’s assistant figures out that she’s having an affair with rival Councilman Jack Valliant’s (Barry Pepper) man Friday Paul Andrews (Kyle Chandler) And there’s obviously more to it than what meets the eye.

Ben Seresin’s cinematography is particularly capturing and riveting, and there are 5 shots of the same bridge. It must be pivotal, but I don’t even know what it’s called. (I’M NOT FROM NY FOR GOD’S SAKE!) The performances of all actors are fine, but there’s not much depth to the actual protagonists’ characters. There’s a reasoning and backstory to the lead’s secretary, his in-laws and even a third party bigshot. The plot is holding but it isn’t knock-you-out-of-the-seat moment when you’re expecting something to pay you off with the entire suspicion angle with Paul Andrew’s murder.

The film delivers to its title but isn’t much what you’ve never seen before. The background score, casting and the look of the film provide the strength to what it lacks in entirety.

My rating: **1/2  (2.5 out of 5)


Inkaar Poster
Release date: January 18, 2013
Directed by: Sudhir Mishra
Cast: Chitrangada Singh, Arjun Rampal, Deepti Naval, Vipin Sharma, Shivani Tanksale, Mohan Kapoor

The premise of a corporate fixture that has a serious accusation of sexual harassment lingering is quite interesting in itself. Throw in some confusing emotions between the victim and accused in it and you have a muddled plot.

Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) is an established advertising professional and while at an ad award function he spots Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) She’s a newbie copywriter with a headstrong approach to her job. Their first encounter gets off of a more of a condescending note where Rahul tells Maya that her ad didn’t deserve any award since it didn’t focus much on the product. Soon he starts mentoring her and there is the harmless flirting turning into something more than that.

The relationship that they share becomes complicated with the commitment issues and trust problems forcing the protagonists to separate their paths. When Maya returns, she’s much refined and more goal-oriented than ever. Also engaged to another ad executive who lives in the States. Rahul’s stand over her return remains dubious with his residual feelings coming off as competitive and ego hassles.

The film runs as a background to the sexual harassment investigations held by an independent social worker (Deepti Naval) assisted by other employees of the same firm. The eventual incident which causes the stir is revealed much later in the second half thereby progressing the story between the leads. There are uncomfortable closeups, probably to cause that discomfort that the characters face. But there are moments that perhaps don’t go with the overall look and the feel of the film resulting in overdoing cinematographic gimmicks at many junctures.

The ensemble cast of Vipin Sharma as the sleazy Gupta and Shivani Tanksale as the suspecting co-employee along with Mohan Kapoor perform well, but again there are things that happen out of turn and for no significance. NOT TO FORGET: Saurabh Shukla’s atrocious lipsync to a rock number in hiphoppish attire. Also the dependence on Kanwaljit Singh’s character as Rahul’s dad to sneak out a moral high ground seems weak.

Though many would not agree with the movie’s ending, I, on the other hand find it somewhat reasonable. The message that the makers are trying to put forth is that of maybe acting on instinct and morally right decisions. Though all of this doesn’t make up for the clunky and patchy design of the film.

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

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola

MKBKM poster

MKBKM poster

Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola
Release date: January 11, 2013
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Pankaj Kapur, Anushka Sharma, Imran Khan, Shabana Azmi, Arya Babbar

With a rustic settlement and background of a liquor store in the middle of a farm and a limousine in the foreground, this is how the film aims at being ‘unpredictable’ right from the start. And it somewhat comes through as that, given the commercial viability of it. Yes, Matru Ki Bijlee Ka Mandola (MKBKM) is comparably the most commercial venture in Vishal Bhardwaj’s catalogue. No, it isn’t neo-noir or supremely grim in its black comedy.

The plot covers a drunkard, Hari Mandola (Pankaj Kapur) who has rechristened himself to a more English Harry Mandola. The juxtaposition of his both sides, i.e. Hari and Harry are absolutely contradicting. When he drinks, he becomes an earthy cuss word mouthing locale where he even calls himself a selfish person, and the royal Harry is a tough whip-bearing admonisher. He’s hired Matru (Imran Khan) primarily to keep an eye on his drinking habits, or so he says.

The village in which they live in is named after Mandola himself. Just like any other ‘progressive’ state’s farmers face the issue of relocation and giving up their land for the creation of Special Economic Zones and the eventual setup of a production plant, Mandola’s farmers have the same problems. They aren’t pleased with the state and try to reach out to a mercenary Mao. Though not a direct representation of Maoists, but the character is surely symbolic. Bijlee (Anushka Sharma) is Mandola’s daughter who’s about to get married for the mutual benefit of her father and Chaudhary Devi (Shabana Azmi) to her son Baadal (Arya Babbar).

The cinematography remains brilliant and vivid throughout the length of the film. The best display of photography is during the, okay wait (for you to judge) The writing keeps varying between satire and pure realism to completely hilarious debaucheries. Except for Navneet Nishan’s pink wardrobe shtick almost everything is acceptable. Pankaj Kapur’s acting prowess is on outright display and there’s no reason to complain. His inebriated Haryanvi mouthings are perhaps the heart of his character. Many will complain about Anushka Sharma’s portrayal of Bijlee or rather complain about seeing her play out the exact same person that she did in Jab Tak Hai Jaan. But it’s not really her fault or is it.

Imran Khan has not much meat in what’s written for him or his beautiful beard conceals any secret heavy emotions he’s played out. I am fairly confused. The second half has moments that slow down the course of the film and the climax takes the age-old approach of crashing a wedding, but it’s quite fun. There’s mush at the end, but it isn’t cringe-inducing mush. Also, there are immaculate beards all around the village.

MKBKM isn’t a dark-themed out and out draining emotional drama, but is rather a tutorial for our writers on how they can infuse genuine wit and black comedy without sucking out the life from the narrative of the film. It’s a fun-filled entertainer that has its brain in the right place.

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

Table No. 21

Table No. 21
Release date: January 4, 2013
Directed by: Aditya Datt
Cast: Rajeev Khandelwal, Tena Desae, Paresh Rawal, Hanif Hilal

Table No. 21 starts with a disclaimer about the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. That is the only spoiler that I’m letting out in this review, and you better not Google it if you want to keep the underlying plot hidden. Aditya Datt presents a semblance of a psychological thriller with this film.

Vivaan (Rajeev Khandelwal) and his wife Seeya (Tena Desae) have won a contest and are on their way to an all expense paid trip to Fiji. They have their moments and a few twitches in their relationship along the way. As their tour package is about to get over, their marriage anniversary approaches and they plan on celebrating it.

They receive an anonymous gift and are invited to another exotic island in honour of their anniversary. The couple willingly accepts them both and are accosted to Abdul Rasheed Khan’s (played by Paresh Rawal) luxury resort. He charms them and lures them into participating in an truth-based reality show. AND THE PRIZE IS 10 MILLION FIJI DOLLARS! The plot gets murky when the rules of the game prove to be life-risking and eventually fatal.

Rajeev Khandelwal’s character is shown to be very sensitive and makes him a boring drag in the flashback sequences, while the end reveals a much contradicting side to his role’s persona making it hard to be believable; but at the end that’s what this film pretty much sums up. There are corny lines and a few witty ones as well, but the resounding piece of dialogue that keeps resurfacing is “If you lie, you die.” The game format of ‘truth-and-dare’ gets ludicrous at certain points.

The imagery is pleasant and a lot of voyeuristic cameras are used, given the format of the reality show. The climax of the film gives a message but at times appears to be very long. Music is limited and tolerable and the background score creates intrigue and suspense. The impending suspense isn’t a “Did the butler kill the mistress?” but interesting and entertaining. There aren’t any loose ends and there are hints all along to place the pieces in the jigsaw puzzle slowly as the story proceeds.

For a film that primarily revolves around three characters, Khandelwal and Rawal keep evolving gradually, hence keeping the viewers interested. Tena Desae is fairly good (can’t blame her for she’s shown to be incessantly weeping) Table No. 21 tries to cover a few social messages along the narrative and that makes the entire film more relevant. But the ultimate motif of the film may seem bit out of place as India is enraged with a whole bunch of other issues, which could ultimately make this film lost in the shuffle.

At the end, Table No. 21 is entertaining and smartly ropes in the societal shtick.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

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