Posts Tagged ‘ Abhishek Chaubey ’

Udta Punjab

udta-punjab-poster

Udta Punjab
Release date: June 17, 2016
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Shahid Kapoor, Diljit Dosanjh, Kareena Kapoor, Satish Kaushik, Manav Vij, Suhail Nayyar

On the Pakistani side of the Punjab-Pakistan border, a discus throw athlete is brought along to catapult a package of “brown powder” into a farm field in Punjab. On the Indian end, another athlete of her own merit chances upon this thrown contraband while she works as a farmer. The state of non-cricket playing athletes bares stark similarities on both sides of the Line of Control.

A heavily-tattooed pop star glorifies the use of substances, like his western and other global counterparts have done for decades now. He doesn’t have a damaged past that forced him into drug abuse, heck, he had a glorious past. But the life expectancy of all that early glory makes him obsessed with his own cock, figuratively and literally.

A young kid, from a presumably healthy household, starts using just because the drug is too accessible and all his friends are doing it. Another addict is turned into one by brute force and sheer fatality.

A junior police inspector questions his senior if they are also going to turn into powerless bystanders to the Mexican drug mafia like contagion of the Punjabi drug nexus, to which the latter throws open a public display of authority by faking to seize a large consignment of the popular poison, and let’s the carrier of the said consignment get away after grabbing more money and lashing out a few slaps.

These are the central characters of Abhishek Chaubey’s Udta Punjab. Kareena Kapoor’s public helping Dr. Preet Sahni is a collateral to the thoroughly set-in system. There is hardly any glorification, or a positive sentiment attached to the depiction of drug consumption here, and that should give away the intent of the makers. The film keeps bouncing between a dark comedy and grim introspections of the central characters.

The protagonists lead their separate lives, constantly a part of the narcotic environment, where the number of enablers is shockingly high. A political under current runs along the narrative of the film, which isn’t set as the central plot of the film, and it isn’t even treated so. The film doesn’t even finish with a grand exposé to unmask the bad guys disguised as ghosts at the hands of Scooby Doo, or Jackie Chan.

In one slightly contrived romantic moment, Dr Sahni says to Sub Inspector Sartaj (Diljit Dosanjh), there are two wars against drugs going on. The first one is the obvious one, and the second one is the one that people around us are constantly fighting. The urge to have that another hit of their choice of drug. She helps young kids and adults get out of the circle at her rehab center.

Udta Punjab, the film concentrates more on its characters to tell a story of a larger problem. Therefore it focuses more on their individual journeys and how they fall in and out of cocaine/heroin. Amit Trivedi’s powerful music is always mixed with story progression, thereby cutting off some of the most memorable work that he’s done in recent times. Da Da Dasse, Chitta Ve, Has Nach Le and Ikk Kudi are given some footage, whereas Ud Da Punjab and Vadeeya hardly get to be heard.

Chaubey and Sudip Sharma have woven Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poetry masterfully with a track in the film. Shahid Kapoor as the erratic, and eccentric Tommy Singh, the Gabru MAN, is an eclectic mix of lunacy, and joy. He is the comic relief, and the emotional conditioner, with his one sequence with his uncle just before the halfway mark. The limp in his walk, the slow motion mic throw at one of his audience members, the trembling of his fingers with a gun in his hand, Kapoor owns his character completely.

While Kapoor is supported by Satish Kaushik and Suhail Nayyar in his performance, Diljit shows an earnest spirit with his Sartaj. Even he is supported by a pleasantly vanilla real world snow-white princess like Kareena Kapoor and Manav Vij as the vindictive senior police officer. Alia Bhatt on the other hand, has a deglamorized appearance as compared to the rest of the cast, and perhaps the most complex part of them all. Entrusted with the most heartbreaking character arc, and a particularly very disturbing sequence, Alia pulls off the Bihari accent with a twang and grounds Tommy’s hedonistic ego in the only scene that they share.

Sure, there are kinks with the slightly overlong political angle, but Udta Punjab is so relentless that there are moments where you would want to laugh like a hyena, and yet can’t get yourself to do it because the said moment is very painful at the same time. To inspire humor and sadness, and empathy in the same breath is the greatest achievement of this film.

Screw the censor board.

My rating: ***1/2 (3 & 1/2 out of 5)

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) 

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)

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