Archive for April, 2013

Iron Man 3

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Iron Man 3
Release date: April 26, 2013
Directed by: Shane Black
Cast: Robert Downey Jr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley, Jon Favreau, James Badge Dale, Rebecca Hall, Stephanie Szostak

The swashbuckling millionaire with a capital B is back to his antics, only this time without rocking to an AC/DC track. Sadface. But there’s a bunch of women prancing around in lingerie, all in good taste though! The first superhero from the Super Friends’ League to come out with a film of his own post The Avengers.

The screenplay captures the residual spirit of the aforementioned film by putting Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) in a frenzy of anxiety, whenever the portal incident is mentioned to him. His girlfriend Virginia “Pepper” Pots (Gwyneth Paltrow) is flummoxed at his alarmingly increased devotion to developing more Iron Man suits. Meanwhile, Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) is now the permanent War Machine-turned-into-Iron Patriot.

Mandarin (Ben Kingsley) is the current antagonist with his anti-American ideologies. The bombings caused allegedly by him, come as close as killing Tony’s close associate Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau) thereby provoking him to call down the new outrageous forces right at his home. Also Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) makes his return to put forth his new invention to Stark Industries.

There are just as many more characters as the plot has much finer intricacies induced into it. The usual self-indulging narcissist humor keeps flowing in, but they go overboard with it and end up spoiling certain moments. Tony Stark’s anxiety is just established and his attacks are just portrayed as fits, yet there’s no relevance to the entire trauma. The same humor that is an attraction to his character proves to be detracting from the impact of his conflicts.

Iron Man 3 is entertaining, heck, it’s even captivating. The thrills and the oomph that the heavy metal (no pun intended) armour pounding exude are sheer fun. It’s the usual approach of creating a dilemma inside the superhero’s head in the final-part-of-the-trilogy which left me particularly underwhelmed. So much that the entire angle seemed forced.

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

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EK Thi Daayan

Ek Thi Daayan Movie Poster
Ek Thi Daayan
Release date: April 15, 2013
Directed by: Kannan Iyer
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin, Pavan Malhotra, Visshesh Tiwari

Kannan Iyer’s directorial debut is a film that obviously deals with a Daayan (witch) what remains to be seen is how he uses the age old gimmick in a modern setting. Ek Thi Daayan is indeed based around a contemporary background.

Bejoy Mathur (Emraan Hashmi) is an accomplished magician under the stage name of Bobo The Baffler. He baffles his audience with his tricks and plays, while he continues to be baffled by events in his personal life. Baffler, baffled. Let the chuckles flow, maybe? There are flashes from his childhood and he can’t help zoning out. He seeks professional help and gives us an entire retelling of events from the eleven year old Bobo’s point of view.

The younger Bobo – played out by Visshesh Tiwari, gives us an account over his fascination for the dark world of ghosts, his belief in the philosophy of a local hell for every building where the troublesome oldies who object to children playing and sleepy guards reside. Cute and eerie at the same time. He addresses his issues with his governess Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma) by objectifying her as a Daayan.

The consultant points out that all of what bad he attributes to Diana could possibly be his hatred for a “stepmom” taking over and this is where a small doubt is created in your mind if Bobo is actually stable. Running perfectly until here, it captures the obvious ludicrousness of the plot consciously by inducing humor at various points. Huma Qureshi’s portrayal of Tamara, Bobo’s fiancee is fine by me and there’s not much ham-and-cheese by any of the actors. Konkona is the right muse that contains her character’s mystique.

The younger Bobo and his older counterpart are visually different, yet fitting in their emotional depictions. Kalki with her ‘obsessed fan’ persona puts up right amount of crazy. All problems with the much subtle horror approach spring up when the grand finale ensues, a fight between relatively unrealistic jumps and falls. Again, it’s all got to do with your suspension of disbelief but compared to the sophisticated handling of the topic until the climax, it might make you feel disconnected with a strongly supernatural flavor to it.

Ek Thi Daayan gives you the chills and also doesn’t put you off with a loud background score. It does go down the same beaten path of spirits and black magic rituals, but there’s a story with nuanced undertones. Simply put, it’s watchable and entertaining.

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

Lessons In Forgetting

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Lessons in Forgetting
Release date: April 19, 2013
Directed by: Unni Vijayan
Cast: Adil Hussain, Roshni Achreja, Maya Tideman, Raaghav Chanana, Amey Wagh, Karan Nair, Anuja Vaidya, Veena Sajnani, Lakshmi Krishnamurthy, Uttara Baokar, Srilekha

Based on Anita Nair’s book of the same name, Lessons in Forgetting has the author herself to handle the story, screenplay and dialogues; thereby guaranteeing the actual flavor of the book to be retained. The film presents the issues pertaining to female foeticide and the general disdain and contempt for a woman’s integrity in India, small towns and metros alike.

The film fluctuates between a misty flashback, the present and the retelling of past incidences by the participants. The apparently three distinct approaches are structurally connected to each other. The first is J.A. Krishnamurthy/JAK’s (played by Adil Hussain) journey to find out what happened to his daughter. On his way he’s accompanied by Meera (Roshni Achreja) who’s faced a separation from her husband. She’s assisting him with his research work as she’s got a family to support by herself now.

The second is that of a college street play group enacting a musical on the illegal sex determination and dangerous abortions on the south coast of India. The subsequent entry of Smriti (Maya Tideman) as a young, and outgoing student with a modern outlook. Shivu (Amey Wagh) and Matthew (Karan Nair) are smitten by her, only to discover that she’s interested in Rishi (Raaghav Chanana)

The recurring memory flashes of JAK’s moments with his daughter on the beach form the misty flashback. All of these finely intertwine as the narrative progresses. Few mannerisms of the ensemble cast seem out of place but that’s compensated by the naturally fitting arguments between Meera’s mother (Veena Sajnani) and grandmother (Lakshmi Krishnamurthy) and Chinnataayi’s son being a loudmouth.

The screenplay and direction exhibit their strengths by being outright blunt and subtle where it’s required. A particular scene where a protagonist unearths a murky conspiracy, the buildup is more effective than the actual discovery. I am not revealing the entire situation, but it’s the one with placenta hanging outside a bin. And intentionally paradoxical is the the scene where Chinnataayi (Srilekha) recalls what she saw happening on a beach in Minjikapuram – bound to make you feel uneasy however tough you are.

The pathos of the film is perfectly captured in its climax where brutality and redemption are manifested with grace. The individual performances are impressive and offer a constantly forward moving pace to the story. Also, the camera stays with the characters so as to provide more of an insight or even to weather the storm that’s called “abrupt cut”. Instead of making the usual awkward cuts, the makers decide to embrace a much sophisticated style of letting the characters exit the frame completely or conclusively.

Lessons in Forgetting delivers an important message and in an emphatic way. It’s a deserving National Award winner and it deserves your attention.

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

Nautanki Saala

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Nautanki Saala
Release date: April 12, 2013
Directed by: Rohan Sippy
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Dalvi, Gaelyn Mendonca, Evelyn Sharma, Sulbha Arya, Sanjeev Bhatt

Rohan Sippy’s official adaptation of Danièle Dubroux and Pierre Salvadori’s Après Vous (A 2003 French film) has a cool urban premise and some spirited writing and performances. It borrows only the basic plot and makes a lot of changes to the characters and the narrative.

Ram Parmar shortened to RP (Ayushmann Khurrana) prevents an unknown stranger from committing suicide. He doesn’t even ask for his name and tries to help him out. Ram’s live-in girlfriend Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca) is shocked and perturbed in equal measures by his this endeavor. On their trip to the stranger’s house in Pune, Ram gets to know his name, i.e. Mandar Lele (Kunaal Roy Kapur)

Out of sympathy or what his girlfriend Chitra later labels as a God complex, Ram lobbies for Mandar to get a part in a play that he’s directing. Meanwhile he also traces down Nandini (Pooja Dalvi) – Mandar’s ex-girlfriend whom he can’t let go. Hustling between his own girlfriend, Mandar and his ex-girlfriend, Ram is now stuck in a major predicament.

The first half of the film is very entertaining and you keep asking for more. The pace is encouraging and you are thrust into a second half that suffers through quite a few problems. A major issue is the prolonged hinting at the eventual climax, it’s as much as hamster running on a wheel with the carrot just dangling away every time the creature came close to it. The stretched out build to the end is grimacing.

The men in the lead pull out a good job at letting their roles grow with you. Pooja Dalvi hams it up a little and Gaelyn falls into her character just finely. The attractive Evelyn Sharma has little to do, while Sanjeev Bhatt shines as the mumbling producer. The music is a treat, though they go a tad overboard with it. I’ll be lying if I didn’t think that this film is an out an out winner at the halfway mark.

But that was not to be. After all the issues that exist, Nautanki Saala is still funny, light and also a dash of narcissism (in the form of the said God complex) always amuses me.

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

Chashme Baddoor

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Chashme Baddoor
Release date: April 5, 2013
Directed by: David Dhawan
Cast: Ali Zafar, Divyendu Sharma, Siddharth Narayan, Taapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher, Bharti Achrekar, Rishi Kapoor, Lilette Dubey

Falling on the mighty back of the 1981 original, the remake borrows heavily from it. Every major plot device is the same, only tweaked in the smallest possible way.

The basic plot remains the same, and the makers go out on a limb to incorporate every major situation/scene from the classic. I’m making an attempt at how the writers were asked to come up with the screenplay. Probably handed over a checklist with the following bullets.

  • Chamko detergent segment.
  • Make Siddharth the good guy. (We don’t care if you can’t show it by his mannerisms and other nuances, just make some of the ensemble cast say it loud for the audience.)
  • The boys must have an outstanding debt.
  • Make Jai and Omi escape through the window and stand on the building ledge, when Seema (not Neha) comes to see Jai.
  • Use the same dated kidnapping shtick to make the protagonist win over the girl at the end.

There’s the usual, “deliver a pseudo-funny line at every juncture, the circumstances of the story should have absolutely no effect on the viewer and keep them laughing” forced humor. (WHY!?)

Out of the two new sub-plots, one is in which Rishi Kapoor substitutes Saeed Jaffrey’s Lallan Miyaan and add a romantic interest for him, i.e. landlord Lilette Dubey. And the second features Anupam Kher in a pointless double role as Seema’s (Taapsee Pannu) father and uncle. Both of the above have absolutely zero impact and add very less to the narrative. Out of all the performances, Divyendu’s jokes do less, and his delivery along with his expressions in rest of his scenes somewhat elevates the film.

The songs try too hard to be witty by making the lyrics, uh, whatever they are. The speed and the loudness of the thick beats does little to help them either. Also, there’s poor dubbing or as though it seems. There are awkward cuts and therefor there are obvious issues with this remake in every department. The laughs come in throughout, but new material is far and few between.

Chashme Buddoor‘s original flavor has a lot to keep you entertained, but yet this Chashme BADdoor failed to keep this viewer amused. Perhaps, it was their way of warning us how the remake is going to be different from the original by putting a ‘BAD’ right there in Buddoor.

My rating: ** (Two stars out of five)

Chashme Buddoor (Original Remastered)

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Chashme Buddoor
Re-release date: April 5, 2013
Directed by: Sai Paranjpye
Cinematography: Virendra Saini
Music: Raj Kamal
Produced by: Gul Anand
Cast: Deepti Naval, Faarooq Shaikh, Rakesh Bedi, Ravi Baswani, Saeed Jaffrey, Leela Mishra
Digitally remastered by: Reliance Media Works

This is not a review, it’s more of a summary on how the 1981 film is still relevant, entertaining and a source of reference for comedies even in this age.

Before starting with it, I made a pact with myself that I’ll refrain from using the phrase “cult classic” as much as I can. So if you do not catch the free flowing mention of the overused same adjective, it’s all a deliberate task.

Chashme Buddoor was a timeless tale of three friends with a love for a vice and no other interest in common, except for Jomo (Ravi Baswani) and Omi’s (Rakesh Bedi) penchant for hitting on women consistently. The basic storyline may have been exploited in just about a few hundred succeeding comedy shows and films, but to capture the inherent spirit of the original has been nearly impossible.

I’ll be reviewing the remake later in the day, thereby judging the subsequent flurry of relativity or a new creative invention altogether. What I am sure about at the moment is that the actual innovative plot devices used here are still very quirky and hilarious. The colour restoration manages to make the aged film appear rejuvenated and vibrant. There’s very less image distortion due to grains or pixels owing to the much larger current screen size as the original resolution seems to have been retained.

There’s nostalgia; the pure innocuous nature of the lead pair relationship can never fail to evoke those certain “Aw that’s so cute” out of you. No, I didn’t do that. Okay, I almost did. The wholesome and subtle entertainment factor of the eighties’ new wave is sure to make you reminisce, if you were around for its actual release that is.

Besides all of the reasons described above, the re-release market in India is fairly poor, so if you’re not sure whether you wanna watch the new remake or invest in a promised good product, Chashme Buddoor is an easy choice to make this weekend. Kudos to the developers for pulling off a good job with the restoration and not going overboard.

And yes, it’s a treat to watch the stalwarts in all their flawless glory and also relive Kaali Ghodi Dwaar Khadi with all its simplistic appeal.

P.S. How could I resist breaking that aforementioned pact! It’s a cult classic, and you’ll be foolish to miss watching a film with a lot of smoking and without the irritating, moronic “Smoking is injurious to health” footer.

No rating

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