Archive for January, 2014

Dedh Ishqiya

Dedh Ishqiya movie hd poster
Dedh Ishqiya
Release date: January 10, 2014
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz, Manoj Pahwa, Salman Shahid

Be it Ishqiya or Dedh Ishqiya, both the films have an ‘Ishqiya’ in their titles and what is Ishqiya (love) without an underlying element of fun in it? There is constant admiration, respect, longing and an eventual appreciation of each other’s choices. Similarities are aplenty between the prequel and this sequel, Krishna (Vidya Balan) was the center of Iftekhaar or Khalu Jaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Razzakh or Babban’s (Arshad Warsi) romantic interests. She was poised and a firebrand simultaneously. In this film, both of them have separate women to catch their attention. Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit-Nene) is elegant and poised, Munira (Huma Qureshi) is the thrill-seeker realist who grounds her man.

There are the differences too. Quite in your face at that as well. Khalu Jaan transforms into his own as Iftekhaar and wants to live for himself. Khalu almost surrendered his feelings for Babban’s attraction for Krishna, here Babban is helping Iftekhaar acquire his unrequited love for Begum Para. There’s an evolution in Babban’s growth in subtlety. The original flavour is retained, yet the flavours are left out to evolve.

Begum Para is a royal widow who has to crown a new king for her subjects and Iftekhaar lands up in lieu of dillagi. He has his underhanded ambitions, little does he know the queen has her own ambitions too. Jaan Mohammed (Vijay Raaz) will go to any extent to become the said king of Mahmoudabad. Babban reaches Mahmoudabad to get his Khaalu Jaan back with him.  Munira is Begum’s confidant, comforter and closest associate. Every character has murky waters surrounding them. The suspicion is thus born.

The organized celebration of selecting a new king for the queen has a wondrous mushaayara in Urdu, patented by the soft Nawabs of every remaining province. This is the foundation of the poetic theme to the film. Some poets pretending to be Nawabs, some pretending to be poets, some pretending everything. In this fantasyland, Babban teases Munira about having a iPhone 2 in the times of 5s. The Begum tells of a story about an neo-homoerotic king and handles her panic attacks with as much anxiety as a commoner. She charms her suitors with equal panache and class. Yet, she fraternizes with her lower-ly servant-cum-friend in her quarters with cheap rum. Munira knows what she wants from men, and it isn’t long-term smothering love.

The writers have sketched out such a colourful character palette that Setu’s brilliant photography blends hand-in-hand with. I started out this review by comparing this film with its predecessor and halfway down, I have concluded that Dedh Ishqiya is perhaps the greatest of all sequels made in Indian cinema. Shah’s gentle humility equates his innocuous playfulness. Arshad Warsi reprises his role with glorious fervour and infinite energy. Dixit has strong competition from all her co-actors and does she stand her ground like a resilient Rocky Balboa. I have a strong aftertaste of the film left in me, so much that I almost suffixed revering ji‘s to every actor’s name.

Vijay Raaz is handed over a rare role and he laps it up sharply. I am consciously avoiding anything about Huma Qureshi’s sexy balance between being all that she is in the film. She is the extra-joyful little girl after her first night with a new guy, she is the hugging consoler like a warm mother. And she is the calculative, smart modern woman. The plot avoids overbearing displays of physicality, but it uses silhouettes and beauteous subtle underplaying to put its point through.

One of the film’s subtle and most powerful messages is portrayed very gently and in minute detailing. For the sake of not letting out spoilers, I prefer not to divulge on it. Also, there’s a modern take on the “Pehle aap peehle aap mein train nikal gayi.” and a desi-Mexican-standoff that only ends in no bloodshed. Dedh Ishqiya’s original poetry, original plot devices and smart punches are just what could possibly take the Ishqiya franchise forward in the best way. I am absolutely in love with this film.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5) 

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The Wolf of Wall Street

wolf-of-wall-street-poster
The Wolf of Wall Street
Release date: January 3, 2014 (India)
Directed by: Martin Scorsese
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill, Cristin Milioti, Jon Bernthal, Jean Dujardin, Kenneth Choi, P. J. Byrne, Kyle Chandler, Margot Robbie, Joanna Lumley

Wall Street spells exuberance for some, and misery for some. Not necessarily forming mutually exclusive entities. The Wolf of Wall Street bears similarity in structure with Scorsese’s own Goodfellas and Casino, a formula so potent it won’t let your mind wander outside the ostentatious bounds of its irreverent characters.

Michael Hanna (Matthew McConaughey) is Jordan Belfort’s first employer. He gives him the sound advice of jerking off at least twice a day to cope up with the numbers (In my opinion, everyone should try doing it) He also suggests he loads up on cocaine and hookers. Jordan (Leonardo DiCaprio) starts picking up traits of his manic boss and thus the transformation of a soft-spoken Jewish begins.

Black Monday hits hard and Belfort ends up losing his job in a month. On a chance meeting with Donnie Azoff (Jonah Hill) and a few funny anecdotes later, they recruit Belfort’s friends who have been selling marijuana into stockbroking positions. Belfort teaches them the tricks and they start picking up on the bullshit factor and a million dollar firm is floated. They evolve from a shady boiler room to an office on Wall Street. The money flowing in leaves the novice ‘stockbrokers’ are left dumbfounded.

Their pinksheet stocks are a hit and they keep taking hits, drags, lines and hooker fucks almost every time they sell a share. The initial buildup of Jordan’s character appears a tad cheesy, but it doesn’t get slotted. The cocaine snorts inject the adrenaline just before each of his motivational speeches to his staff. The money laundering and all other associated crimes are more or less victim-less. Which means no one is actually shown suffering because of their sham. The boring technicalities of the financial markets are left out smartly, in favor of superbly hilarious drunken/drug-induced/sexual stupors.

The non-fictitious Jordan Belfort’s escapades and scams are presented with an element of fiction. The names of his close associates and wives have been altered, probably just to avoid any defamation lawsuits after the film’s release. (That’s just a rough assumption) Then there are unabashed lines like, “Her pussy was like heroin.”, When you’re sailing a boat built for a Bond villain you’ve got to play the part.”; I laughed, and a lot. It’s a polite “Fuck you” to the idealistic way of living.

The repetitive pattern of the course is avoided by strong writing. For example, when Donnie fucks up one time (Of course I am using the word ‘fuck’ liberally in this review) and he tries to get Jordan high before the news reaches him from outside, Terence Winter turns a possible death-scare into insurmountable comedy. Modern Popeye, the stockbroker man is brilliant. But the film has a foreseeable end, and you are just left waiting for the court of justice’s execution.

Stratton Oakmont, Belfort’s company reaches an unknown conclusion, and when the “chickens come home to roost” the screenplay, acting and direction emerge individually stronger than the film in entirety. The ensemble cast is not just strong in their performances, even their parts have meat in them. The fourth wall breaking isn’t much of a hassle, but the imaginary dialogue between Jean-Jacques Saurel, the Swiss banker played by Jean Dujardin and Belfort is incredibly done.

Belfort gets the title of “wolf” from a magazine interview, and the arc shows him as a wolf. He wants to be the strutting lion, and yet gets subdued by the end. The Wolf of Wall Street is outrageously and unbelievably enjoyable, not just popcorn fluff. No overdrawn moral outtakes here.

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

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