Posts Tagged ‘ Aamir Khan ’

Dangal

dangal-poster

Dangal
Release date: December 23, 2016
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Rohit Shankarwar, Aparshakti Khurrana, Girish Kulkarni, Vivan Bhatena

Heroics of the Phogat Sisters, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sushil Kumar over the years, and the recent surge of Sakshi Malik at this year’s Summer Olympics have resuscitated life into the long-forsaken sport of amateur wrestling. To top it off, the only victors of any medals, or, any memorable performances of any kind at the said event were all by young women. Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu, and Malik, thrust into the collective pop-culture with immense glory.

For the second time in a single year, wrestling is bestowed upon attention that the sport has not seen in years of cinema, where an akhaadaa would only be used for comic relief or as a den for the brawny henchmen for the bad guys, at the most. The desi training grounds are treated with reverence and for what they are, strongholds of men who deem women entering the field as a potential sin that could land them in hell.

Mahavir Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a national wrestling champion who rues on missing out on winning a medal for his country on the international scale. Like many other athletes from the country, he suffices with a safe job to cater for his family, instead of persisting on with his passion for the sport. A son or two to fulfill his personal aspirations, is all he needs. But as fate would have it, his wife would birth four daughters, in the film’s most satirical sequences, where every member of the village has their own method on how to conceive a male child. The suggestions fail, and Mahavir’s dreams come crashing.

Until the oldest of the quartet, Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and the plucky Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar) beat up boys for bullying them. Mahavir does not reprimand his daughters, as his eyes widen in disbelief, and the realization sets in. All he wanted was gold for his nation on the big stage, and women can very well do that. The girls, first surprised at their father’s reaction, soon turn into soldiers for his marching orders. Borrowing their cousin’s trousers to turn them into the traditional knickers, so they can run at ease. The socks with their loosened elastic grip around the little girls’ feet. Knockoffs of branded polo shirts. The authenticity is pleasing. Mahavir’s wife’s outright refusal at allowing meat to be cooked in her kitchen. The film solidifies its strains through the many things that it gets right: the girls collectively revolting against their father, the young bride with a mournful deadpan on her face while the overgrown adults gush at the wedding, the veritable Haryanvi dialects down to the hilt.

The young girls blossom into women. From here on, the struggle for the international gold intensifies. Dangal, the film’s crowning jewels are the four young women and their casting, direction and the finer details to their costumes, cosmetic appearances and wrestling technicalities, providing greater depth to the film, much like the corner pockets of a pool table. What would a plain cue-game table surface be without the drop pockets? Aamir Khan, as the coach, father, and overwhelming patriarch of a slowly-progressing Haryanvi hamlet  is compelling, cruel and achingly wonderful. Be it the rotund paunch, the dusted kurtaa paijaamaa and somewhat glued gamchaa around his shoulders. A natural progression in the behavioural pattern of Mahavir Phogat, as he ages from the young office clerk to the father gracefully folding his hands at a grovelling wrestling roadshow organizer. The hothead in him, springing into action when the occasion requires.

Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta is tenacious, earnest and fresh. The obliging nods that Indians usually give off while obliging to their seniors, the dimpled gentle shy smile and the beautifully choreographed double-arm underhook and Fisherman suplexes, a complete wrestler. Sanya Malhotra as the slightly little more obedient younger Babita is equally intriguing to watch. The rigorous physical routines are captured to the last bit. The young Zaira and Suhani practice their bridging and hip tosses enthusiastically. Except for the final German suplex that looks a little off in slow-motion towards the climax, Kripa Shankar Bishnoi’s wrestling choreography is excellent. A special mention for Girish Kulkarni’s conniving coach act.

The picturization of the athletic events is decently notable. The presentation is a lot better than earlier sport films. Daler Mehndi, Raftaar, Jonita Gandhi and Sarwar Khan – Sartaz Khan Barna, Saddy Ahmad collaborate with Pritam to render a thumping soundtrack that colludes perfectly with the narrative. Though, what transcends the superb technical quality of the film, is the clear assertion of the film’s women as the film’s true deserving heroes. In a film universe, where young women are constantly commodified into mascots for product placements, Dangal creates role-models for little girls and boys to look up to. Thoroughly enjoyable, moving and powerful; this is undoubtedly one of the best films of this year.

My rating: ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5)

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Dil Dhadakne Do

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Dil Dhadakne Do
Release date: June 5, 2015
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Parmeet Sethi, Vikrant Massey, Ridhima Sud, Zarina Wahab

If Karan Johar were to make Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in the year 2015, and on a Mediterranean cruise, there’s a probability it could had have been closer to Dil Dhadakne Do. Pointless, unnecessary comparison aside, it would have had to cut down on some healthy jingoism and overt flash and the melodramatic razzmatazz.

2015 calls for a crisper, and a lighter hand at the job. 2015 calls for Zoya Akhtar to play with a family drama, which has bits and parts of relative predictability, with dollops of individual charisma and charm. The Millionaire Mehras, Neelam (Shefali Shah) and Kamal (Anil Kapoor) have an ordinary marriage crumbling on the inside, and a business that’s faced with a similar fate. To salvage one of the two, they host a wedding anniversary party on an exuberant ship which will take their guests around Istanbul.

Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is being prepped to take over as the heir once the Kamal steps down. Kabir tries. Kabir falters. Kabir flies a plane to get over it (!?).  Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) is the driven-away daughter who’s grown on to be a successful businesswoman, post her halfhearted marriage to Manav (Rahul Bose) The Mehra parents are obviously discriminatory.

Along with being discriminatory, or sexist, they’re hypocrites just like every other human being, as their pet Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan) points out. They are bigoted and dysfunctional, just like an ordinary set of old folks, no matter how rich or poor they may be. This is where the perennially impeccably dressed Mehras become fallible and vulnerable characters. What Zoya Akhtar doesn’t try to do out of her way is to make the supremely flawed parents become likable and utterly revered seniors from Baghban, instead she keeps them humane and grey.

The children bear the brunt and the fruits, of which they’re frequently reminded of their obligation towards the fruits they’ve cherished all their lives. They are asked of life-altering compromises in return at times. Ayesha and Kabir, as siblings, have grown past the age of petty fights and name-calling. They’ve graduated to silently understanding what the other feels, knowing where the other deserves his/her support, and when to let them handle the screw-up of the day.

The strongest relationship is shared by the siblings and the performances put in by Singh and Chopra enthuse the deserved spirit into their characters. Ranveer’s Kabir is cool, urbane and witty and not at all over-the-top boisterous showboarder; he’s the younger of the two and thus, fairly rebellious. Priyanka’s Ayesha is the older, much matured sister that knows her parents won’t give her credit where it’s due. Yet, she’s moved past that and is coping with a modern (go on, read modern as millennial, you internet-junkie) loveless marriage. And both of them run away with as much as they can by unrelentingly extracting from their screen time.

Anil Kapoor sportingly wields strands of grey hair and slips into the self-serving megalomaniac Kamal’s skin. He personifies the faulty patriarch. Shefali Shah’s Neelam is dealt a rough path. She’s stuck in a marriage, like many other women from any background find themselves, where the wife is being taken for granted and hence in turn, detonates the bomb of passive-aggression, forever. Shah is simply brilliant throughout, especially in the scene where she’s exemplifying the decorum for her son.

Dil Dhadakne Do is heartbreakingly authentic and harsh in the moments where the family is struggling to come to terms to the ground realities of their current lives. All the millions in the world can’t give you complete control over the events in your life. It’s here that the film earns its ticket price. It takes a set of elite, classic “10 percent” haves and makes them not seem stumbling drunks, addicts or weeping bags of douchebags. They manage to deal with it, albeit in stylish suits and on lavish locations.

Light humor and powerful cameos by Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar and the entire ensemble cast ensures there’s no seasickness on this voyage. How could I not make a sea metaphor!
Special mention to the single-shot approach on the song Gallan Goodiyaan. The song starts off as annoyingly loud and then seamlessly transitions into a fun number.

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

PK

pk-posterPK
Release date: December 19, 2014
Directed by: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Parikshit Sahni

In the December of 2009, 3 Idiots, the “highest grossing entertainer” of all times released with the same protagonist and the same director at its helm. I would reserve my observations about that film, but the similarities keep soaring in my mind. Of course, the glaring disconnect between the two is the lack of any attention to the supporting characters in PK.

Hirani along with Abhijat Joshi creates his title character as an outsider (Aamir Khan) to India’s belief systems. The outsider doesn’t know how the societies work, what’s acceptable and what’s not. He loses his way out of here and relies on the innumerable human gods for hope and answers because he has no friends and no relatives. Jagat Janani (Anushka Sharma) chances upon PK and decides to help him through her news channel.

The news channel head (Boman Irani) indulges PK with his questions about birth control, and is thoroughly impressed by his “amazing questions”. Groan. Once the film goes down the path of using a TV show as a confrontation between its only self-admitted antagonist–Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla) and the ever inquisitive PK, it all goes downhill.

The dichotomies and differences between the religions present hearty laughs and play out as a continuous gag; turning potentially sensitive situations into perfectly innocuous moments of lovable relativity. The writers go to originality in spurts and come up with a few new devices that turn conventional scenarios around. Unfortunately, these spurts of originality cease at being used to rake up humor and nothing beyond that.

The post-interval part is reluctant at going for an emotional depth and eventually turns out to be manipulative and shallow; where a bomb goes off and there’s no gravitas attached to the scene. It’s just something that you’re supposed to care about, but the characters on the screen underplay it and thus the film chickens out of attaching any strong subtext.

The prolonged climax of the film is insufferable to say the least. It descends into a full blown TV debate between the two aforementioned characters and the interviewees completely hijack the show and the anchor and the producer have absolutely no control over it. Yes, it’s a film and they get cinematic liberties. But I wouldn’t be pointing this out if it was the only thing that was far-fetched. What follows that and ends in a telephonic conversation with Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput) in Pakistan is outrageously ludicrous.

It’s an all Aamir Khan show here. He shoulders the entire film, not because the other actors are doing a bad job, rather they don’t get to do much. Everyone’s made out to be a sidekick to this Bhojpuri-mouthing great ashternaut (sic) His chaste Bhojpuri makes him endearing and affable, instead of thriving on the usual poor representation of the language in self-righteous Hindi films.

PK is just about a kindhearted blockbuster in its approach, which makes it ironically un-kindhearted and seem more like an insincere crossover between Hrithik Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya and Paresh Rawal starrer OMG-Oh My God!

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

Dhoom 3

The boring-ass unimaginative poster.

The boring-ass unimaginative poster.

Dhoom 3
Release date: December 20, 2013
Directed by: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Cast: Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, Jackie Shroff, Tabrett Bethel (Is she the totally insubstantial post-colonial Victoria?)

First off, I saw Gori Tere Pyaar Mein recently and I enjoyed it quite a lot unlike many popular film reviewers. I couldn’t post a review ’cause I got a pseudo-anxiety attack after looking at my syllabus for the exam that week.

In a relentless Chicago, Sahir (Aamir Khan) is an illusionist-cum-acrobat-cum-tap dancer-cum-superb motorcycle rider. As the number of attributes attached with the presumed antagonist keep towering over his modest height, it’s safe to assume he’s the uber-cool antihero. He is Iqbal’s (played by Jackie Shroff) son. Trained and nurtured by his performer father, Sahir has a personal grudge to set right and an eternally six-pack flaunting untraceable criminal on a superbike is thus born.

The innumerable SWAT teams and Blue Mustangs are rendered powerless and “Indian Supercop” Jay Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) is invited with his sidekick Ali (Uday Chopra) to crack the already high-profile case. Whoa! With their Tom and Jerry shenanigans, they arrive in Illinois to bless us with a very limited range of buffoonery from Uday Chopra’s character. They don’t press on their earlier hot-and-cold gags and go straight for the hunt.

The only somewhat titillating poster.

The only somewhat titillating poster.

And Aliya (Katrina Kaif) joins Sahir’s The Great Indian Circus troupe too. She isn’t exactly Sahir’s romantic interest, but there’s a little chemistry relating Sahir and Aliya which leads to a certain implication. (Hush hush!) The approach of the screenplay towards cracking the case is smart and short, the drama is entirely concentrated on Aamir’s character which is understood given that he’s the attraction of the new installment. The logic and reasoning on the Supercop’s part isn’t exactly amiss in the post-intermission half, but it’s nothing very novel.

The struggles of Sahir’s character are drawn out and are also gripping to major extents. His robberies aren’t breathtaking. He’s the ordinary exhibitionist, it’s his buildup and the payoff which are interesting. Bridging the gap with his persona of a magic performer, there’s some meaty subtext here. Heck, Aamir even carries it off conveniently. He fluctuates his separate characterizations with ease. The rest of the cast is completely secondary. The writing is as unimaginative as the film’s posters. The dialogue ranges between pretentiously philosophical to inaccurately vague.

The songs, at least two of them, appear out of place. Yet, Dhoom 3 isn’t unbearable for a bashing audience-pleaser flick. It brisks fast enough for you to not continuously stare at your watch for it to get over. The fight between good and evil is grayed and as an afterthought, there isn’t any actual punching-kicking between the chor-police. No blood or any hardcore gore either. The stunts and action sequences don’t grate your ears with crushing iron rods and cars, they rather make you laugh (at times) at their ridiculousness. I don’t know what’s the criteria for you liking a film in IMAX, but no blood, no missiles don’t excite me into paying the flashy ticket price.

The Dhoom franchise’s latest offering is a safe film with an end that won’t affect the brand’s future, yet Dhoom 3 is a bearable film just because it doesn’t do a lot of things wrong, instead of doing many things right.

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

Bombay Talkies

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Bombay Talkies
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shubhangi Bhujbal, Naman Jain, Ranvir Shorey, Vineet Kumar, Sudhir Pandey

To type a personal paragraph(s) on what I love about films or not to type: that is the question.

Indian cinema, since its inception in 1913 has come a long way. Be it technically or professionally, whether it has made advancement in telling contemporary stories in a hard hitting fashion is not to be passed upon here. Bombay Talkies tries going in for the latter parameter and that is why you should love the film in its entirety for.

There are four directors with their own separate films, not all of them exactly revolving around cinema’s impact on us, but taking on different characters’ struggles and individual tales of varying emotions. The first one is Karan Johar’s film hedlining Rani, Randeep and the fresh Saqib from Mere Dad Ki Maruti. It starts off with a pumped up confrontational opening and his camera chasing Saqib.

With a style uncharacteristic to his, Johar maneuvers a telling tale of dysfunctional relationships and the society’s collective inability of accepting things as they are. He operates in a urban setting with the idealistic middle class mentality and equates it to the high classes’ apparent double standards. The actors save the plot from becoming clunky at times.

Dibakar Banerjee explores the chawls of Mumbai, where his protagonist (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has a pet emu named Anjali. Oh how I love his subtle comedy! Nawazuddin plays an uninspired actor and a failed businessman (sic) with limited means to support his family. It’s his apparent gumption and the inner battles that form this amusing feature.

Sadashiv Amrapukar comes out of his spiritual and literal dumpsters to give him a reality check, obviously laced with good lines. It’s the ending that simply transcends into another dimension of its own. It is divine, fulfilling and succulent. The detailing is so brilliant along with Nawaz’s simmering performance, you rejoice every moment of his swaggering presence.

Post interval, Zoya Akhtar follows up with her story of a small family whose patriarch wants his son to get ‘tough’ by making him attend football sessions in school by sacrificing the daughter’s allowance for a history trip. The boy is enamored by Katrina Kaif and wants to emulate her dance performances in his fantasyland.

The approach for establishing plot devices is a bit faulty and rushed at times, but what Akhtar captures beautifully is the sibling’s relationship. It’s a simple I-look-your-back-you-look-mine one, but it’s charming, delightful and uh, heartwarming! Kaif delivers a special message in a fairy outfit and that is an added incentive to the joyful end of this film.

Indians love their films and they worship their actors with reverence and treat them as an abstract family member. Kashyap’s film is just about that. A son carries a jar of Murabba for his father’s idol (Amitabh Bachchan) to Mumbai. The reasoning for this task is what crazy fan fictions are made up of. Vineet Kumar plays the Bachchan obsessed Sudhir Pandey’s son Vijay.

He makes his trip to Mumbai from Allahabad to realize there are just a two dozen strong other Vijays hanging outside Bachchan’s house, awaiting their chance to have a few moments with The Man. Again, the finish scene with Kumar’s return to his father is purely frolicky.

Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap work a dark and cheery screenplay respectively; not their customary styles, which could cause some disappointments or surprise among their loyal viewers who could be expecting something more of the usual. I count it as one of the film’s strengths and a welcome change.

Altogether, Bombay Talkies is a great tribute that doesn’t focus on being one. And that is why it turns out to be so good.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars) 

Talaash

Talash poster
Talaash
Release date: November 30, 2012
Directed by: Reema Kagti
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shernaz Patel, Raj Kumar Yadav

Chronicling the length and breadth of Mumbai on a usual evening in the city, colourful shots of twinkling lights and sea waves and ending the opening titles with a junkie smoking by the roadside who looks on as an actor’s car has a weird crash. This is how Talaash’s pace is set right at the start.

From there on, the talaash (search) for the reasons that caused a freakish mishap begins. As pieces of the impending mystery start piecing together, Inspector Surjan Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) realizes it wasn’t just a one-off accident. There are no obvious pointers to the regular drunken driving incidents as well. There are a lot of layers on the entire case. Surjan has a few personal and family issues too. As he publicly accepts, his wife Roshni (Rani Mukherji) is inflicted by a problem, he doesn’t quite figure out that it’s he who needs to ease up his knots.

As his interrogation leads him to further witnesses and more evidence, he’s acquainted with Rosy (Kareena Kapoor) who is a prostitute. Her character is so well-etched (never mind a few cliche lines) it brings the required mystique and adds another dimension to the characters she interacts with, including the drab and dreary Surjan. It’s these interactions that hold and release much of the pressure, but the same distracts from the actual search into the inner battles of our protagonists.

Talaash depends on a strong belief of the writers and the director, but the same beliefs could not go down well with many viewers who are looking for a hard-hitting totally realistic thriller. Sure, the imagery with beautiful shots prove that the camera work is impeccable. The persistent problem is of the path that the makers have chosen to demystify the story. After a point, you realize what’s happening and you don’t have to wait anymore to hang onto the edge of your seat.

The music is exemplified by the opening and haunting Muskaanein Jhoothi Hain, there are two more full fledged songs, out of which one looks like a square peg in the circle hole. But it’s not too painful. Rani and Aamir bring the poised demureness needed for their characters, while Kareena is simply indulging and enjoyable in all her moments with her seductive charm. The ensemble cast of Nawazuddin as a crippled shady guy Teimur , Raj Kumar Yadav as a junior to Inspector Surjan and Shernaz Patel as the creepy neighbour are all good.

Overall, Talaash is an attempt at classic suspense but a bit lost in the shuffle of letting every character attain closure and answers to their inherent questions. It borders on being a smart film and a thrown opportunity.

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

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