Archive for February, 2013

Kai Po Che!

kai-po-che-posterKai Po Che!
Release date: February 22, 2012
Directed by: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Amit Sadh, Raj Kumar Yadav, Sushant Singh Rajput, Amrita Puri, Muni Jha, Dijvijay Deshmukh

Kai Po Che! is the adaption of Chetan Bhagat’s The 3 Mistakes of My Life. The original book had a lot of real life circumstances involved in it, and Abhishek Kapoor picks and plays with the more entertaining parts.

The plot picks up at a faster speed with the three friends, Omi (Amit Sadh), Ishaan (Sushant Singh Rajput) watching a cricket match and Govind (Raj Kumar Yadav) haggling with Ishaan’s father (Muni Jha) for a cheque to sponsor the opening of their own sports good outlet. Ishaan is a talented, yet unaccomplished cricketer who harbours the dream of establishing a sports academy. Govind is the careful, hardworking, money manager who’s pleased to let others take the front seat. The third wheel, Omi, is grounded yet adventurous.

They’re later financed by Omi’s Hindu-extremist uncle and soon the cricket training starts. Ishaan spots a boy wonder and goes out of his way to convince his Muslim sympathetic father. The story then makes use of the 2001 Republic Day earthquake, 2001 Calcutta test between India and Australia, and the Godhra riots. Depicting the individual and collective struggles of the principal parts, Kai Po Che! flies along very well.

Anay Goswamy’s cinematography takes the hustling camaraderie a few notches higher with all the different colour tints. Though the writing gets vague at a few points, the dialogue remains catchy and interesting. The acting prowess of all three leads is tested and witty through the storm. Also, Muni Jha’s character just has only one dimension, which is compensated by Amrita Puri’s bubblepop  yet charming character.

Amit Trivedi’s music employs the local flavor and works it up in his ever-refreshing style, though limited but effective. I guess I’ve actually lost count of the number of times he’s decked up the soundtrack with the relevant state folk. The amount of things working in favour of Kai Po Che! obviously outnumbers the things that don’t.

Only if it had a tinge of more emotion in the narrative, Kai Po Che! would have made for a more touching tale. Nevertheless, it is aesthetically and endearingly brilliant.

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

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Zero Dark Thirty

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Zero Dark Thirty
Release date: February 15, 2013 (India)
Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow
Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler

Disclaimer: Given the delay in the date of release, I’ll keep the review short and refined.

Zero Dark Thirty is a period film on the “War on Terror” waged by the United States of America in the post-9/11 phase capturing the successive global terror activities and the eventual killing of Osama bin Laden. On closer perception, it is the story of CIA officer Maya’s (Jessica Chastain) sole determination: she’s focused on leads based on Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts ever since she got out of high school.

It is also the story of Maya’s struggle: being placed at the ground base in Pakistan at a young age, and losing a close accomplice, Jessica (Jennifer Ehle) to a suicide bomber inside the well-protected CIA camp. Consequently, it is also the story of Maya’s belief in her gut or practically speaking, her research in the form of her insistence on Osama’s presence in Abbottabad.

The detailing is excellent here. Bigelow captures the minutest of emotions in the torture cells, Marriott blasts and almost everywhere else. The geographical and linguistic specifications are very precise and authentic. The narrative also makes use of the major events such as London blasts, Invasion of Iraq, the WMD disaster, Marriott blasts along with the Empire State bomb findings.

Jessica Chastain and Reda Kateb snatch away all the acting honours in this film. Chastain is believably real and convincingly feisty in her portrayal of her character. There aren’t any major breathing gaps to fill the frames in between, but the writing keeps the narrative dry enough to not let the viewer slack off. The raid at the end is distinctly engaging, depicting the simultaneous rage of contradicting emotions where the SEALs come across innocent children and women inside bin Laden’s house.

The final shot is perhaps the most apt visual of this entire saga. Maya is on a plane, and the pilot asks her for the destination and she ironically remains silent and starts weeping. Bigelow’s direction is complemented perfectly by Greig Fraser’s cinematography. Possibly, the only brickbats the film faces are for the editing team, (Sorry Katheryn, you face the brunt too.) The timing of a few cuts and the overall pacing is damaged in the process.

Notwithstanding the flaws,  Zero Dark Thirty is not just a great history film, it’s also one of the finest films of our times.

My rating: ****1/2

Special 26

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Special 26
Release date: February 8, 2013
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Anupam Kher, Manoj Bajpayee, Jimmy Shergill, Rajesh Sharma, Kishore Kadam,  Kajal Aggarwal, Divya Dutta

A quartet of conmen who conduct heists while pretending to be government officers are the gutsy fantastic four of Neeraj Pandey’s reality inspired suspense-thriller. Though embellished with a few quite passable songs, the film runs for a long time without feeling slow and boring.

As each character is introduced at the start, Ajay (Akshay Kumar), P.K. Sharma (Anupam Kher), Iqbal (Kishore Kadam), Joginder (Rajesh Sharma) present themselves as no-nonsense CBI officials on a mission to raid a minister’s house. They’re accompanied by Inspector Ranvir Singh (Jimmy Shergill) and Shanti (Divya Dutta) with a small troop of constables. Soon the raids increase and the victims refuse to report these instances. Ranvir Singh & Shanti face the brunt and are suspended from duty.

Actual CBI officer Waseem Khan (Manoj Bajpayee) is a straight-faced man who doesn’t like her wife’s cleavage showing. Hey, that’s in the actual plot! He’s contacted by Singh after he starts his private investigation against the gang’s various outings across India. Soon, two teams are set up and the fight to the finish ensues. The fake CBI are now up for a ‘final’ raid with a mega scale and that’s where the Special 26 is established.

The plot isn’t too thrilling itself, but it depicts the finer traits in a subtle but detailed manner. For example, the scene where the group lands to loot a place that is already being raided by authentic officials. This shows the over-confidence and charming capabilities of Ajay, but at the same time shows that they go in unprepared to steal millions. The latter detail, probably undesired, shows pivotal flaws in the narrative.

The writing isn’t too great, with another basic flaw at the end, and without any fresh or impactful lines. But all of these shortcomings are compensated by the many individual characters and performances. Akshay Kumar’s character is the flashy one, and disappointingly we don’t get to see much from his acting side, though the rest have been given meatier roles. Kher, Shergill along with Sharma and Kadam are subtle and particularly suiting.

Whereas Kajal Aggarwal who plays Ajay’s love interest doesn’t have much to do. The same goes for Divya Dutta’s character, she’s almost reduced to a caricature. Bobby Singh’s cinematography is pleasing, yet mundane at certain moments. There are filler music videos which don’t serve much purpose except for providing a breather to the much relaxed narrative; thereby becoming pointless and not required.

All in all, the film isn’t too high on adrenaline nor filled with any jump-out-of-the-seat points but yet manages to remain pact and entertaining. Special 26 isn’t a classic, though it’s fairly good at what it aims to do and is entertaining.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5) 

David

david-poster
David
Release date: February 1, 2012
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vikram, Vinay Virmani, Tabu, Isha Sharvani, Nasser, Shweta Pandit, Sheetal Menon, Monica Dogra, Milind Soman, Saurabh Shukla, Akarsh Khurana, Satish Kaushik, Vinod Sherawat, Rohini Hattangadi, Nishan

David is a film set around three disjoint lives with the same name, i.e. David. Spanning across three different timelines and environments. London in 1975, Bombay in 1999 and Goa in 2010, the name is retained along with fluid, gripping and entertaining character storylines.

Neil Nitin Mukesh’s David is based in London during the ’70’s. Ghani (Akarsh Khurana) is a hardcore Muslim extremist with an influential clout. David is Ghani’s  son-like protege, who has been with him ever since he was a little boy. David’s spent his entire life learning Ghani’s ways and as a part of his family. Noor (Monica Dogra) is David’s love interest and there’s binding chemistry between them. Soon there’s a bounty on the warlord’s head and there are some consequential decisions to be made.

Vinay Virmani is the David from Bombay, in the year 1999. He is a struggling guitarist-cum-vocalist who’s quite the young rebel with his taunts and small jabs aimed at his father Pastor Noel (Nasser) and his preaching ways. Sheetal Menon and Shweta Pandit play their roles as David’s sisters and provide for a balancing foil between the two male horizons of the family. Noel helps out the poor and oppressed of his locality, and eventually falls prey to a Hindu right wing political party’s manipulative tactics.

Vikram is the third David of this line and he’s situated in Goa in the year 2010. He has been left at the altar on his wedding day, thereby turning him into a drunkard. Frenny (Tabu) is the only one who sympathizes with him in the entire village. She doles out advice to David and he claims her to be one of the only two women he can tolerate. Peter (Nishan) is his partner in their fishing business. He plans on marrying the mute-and-deaf Roma (Isha Sharvani) so that he can get a boat in return as a gift from her parents. Love strikes its arrow and there are muddled mutual feelings involved, or so David thinks because of Roma’s disability.

Each story has its own flavor but yet at the end, they connect with a simple message of letting go. Be it anger, hate or love. The Goan David provides for a fun breather between the grim and dark Londoner David and the constantly moving Bombayite David. The camerawork is nearly immaculate with a neo-noir depiction of the gangster tale, the urbane settings of Mumbai and easy on the eye and pleasing in Goa. The background score combined with the music is refreshingly vivid and suiting.

There are so many characters, each with their own traits, that blend in with the changing moods of the narrative. Lara Dutta and Saurabh Shukla’s cameos are particularly special. Monica Dogra’s dialogue delivery was very good given the heavy Urdu diction of that entire traditional Muslim arrangement. Except for one place, I won’t specify it though. The relationship between Tabu and Vikram’s characters is also a welcomed one, it’s not the usual lovey-dovey one, but it’s an essential one. The three protagonists are very fitting in their individual performances. Also, Akarsh Khurana’s Ghani also delivers a special mention.

All in all, David as a film, is a winner. The innovative storytelling, visuals, characters and writing are brilliantly manifested in Bejoy Nambiar’s magnum opus of sorts. I’d watch it again, you should watch it too.

My rating: **** (4 stars)

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