Posts Tagged ‘ Akshay Kumar ’

Airlift

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Airlift
Release date: January 22, 2015
Directed by: Raja Krishna Menon
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Nimrat Kaur, Inaamulhaq, Purab Kohli, Prakash Belawadi, Kumud Mishra

What the entire world and its cousin, i.e. Venus and/or Mars, seem to have forgotten in the annals of history, Raja Krishna Menon attempts to resuscitate after the recent rescue efforts by the Indian government to bring back Indians from the currently war-torn regions of Iraq and Syria. The ‘original’ airlift mission of 1990 is all but faded away, where not a single source on the internet credits Sunny Matthews and a certain Mr Vedi, a man whose first name is not in print anywhere. All the glory for the biggest rescue operation is handed out to the Indian government of that period, and its bureaucrats.

Menon creates a solitary character out of the multiple men that formed the core committee of the entire initiative in Kuwait and names him Ranjit Katiyal (Akshay Kumar), a self-centered businessman who prides himself in being a Kuwaiti and flinches even at Hindi music that his driver happens to play on a car ride just a day before the unexpected Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Then Iraq president, Saddam Hussein’s army of 16 year olds runs wild and sets fire, its guns and penis at everything that is Kuwaiti. People of Indian origin do get a leeway as Hussein considered them as friends.

After witnessing a relatively not-so-barbaric act of war, Katiyal panics and fears for the safety of his family. On his wife’s insistence, he decides to flee to London. He tries to crack a deal with Iraqi Major Khaled (Inaamulhaq) through which he can escape the country. Katiyal, on the way back home, stops over at his office, only to see all of his employees huddled together. He realizes that these people have nowhere to go, and a sudden sense of self-realization sets in him. He decides to use his power and money to guarantee the security of these Indian employees.

He goes to great lengths to keep them protected, but that wouldn’t be enough if they are to stay alive. He tries to establish communication with the apathetic ministry of external affairs back in India. Katiyal goes back and forth between being a messiah and a self-doubting fool of hope, thus offering Akshay Kumar to perform as well as he does. Nimrat Kaur as Amrita finds her feet slowly into the film, shining in moments where her husband is questioned, or questions himself. The soppy and unnecessary romantic track playing in the background looks great as Kaur flashes her smile at her character’s husband, thus displaying the individual strength that she brings to the table.

Prakash Belawadi’s character George Kutty is a small gem in itself. He’s the ever grumbling Malayali middle-aged man who feels entitled all the time and shows his displeasure with anything in an over-the-top fashion. We all know rambling ”uncles” like him, and none of us are quite fond of them. Inaamullhaq, with his Saddam Hussein impression, wears the Iraqi accent like his tailor-made war jacket. He’s charmingly slimy as the money-hungry mid-level army officer. Akshay Kumar feeds off the support characters and restrains his character and even lets his vulnerability flow out in tears. His character indulges in conversational humor, the kind which Kumar must have forgotten exists after years of slapstick tomfoolery.

Kumar ‘airlifts’ his acting career every year with one ‘good’ film and this time he lets the film overpower him. Where his peers are still vehemently coloring their beards and hair to appear younger, Kumar repeatedly lets his age show realistically; making you hope that he sticks to just this way of working and age gracefully by giving up on the silly franchise films he keeps acting in. But again, that’s his prerogative. Airlift has moments of thrill, often scaring you of the consequences. Menon and his cinematographer Priya Seth shoot special scenes just to show how potentially dangerous the young Iraqi soldiers can be, creating a sense of doom in the viewers’ minds every time they appear. The limited, but gruesome depiction of war crimes is the biggest achievement of the film, and in that they create a very strong antagonist.

The bureaucracy red-tape angle plays calmly in parallel where Kumud Mishra as Sanjiv Kohli keeps knocking on the door of his superiors to rescue the Indians in Kuwait. He fights his own small battle and provides for a good subplot within the film.

Airlift is a poignant tale of how a few Indians carried out one of the most successful mass-evacuation and serves as an important reminder of, as a line goes in the film, “Chot lagne par ma-ma hi chillaate hain“.

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

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Brothers

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Brothers
Release date: August 14, 2015
Directed by: Karan Malhotra
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Jackie Shroff, Sidharth Malhotra, Jacqueline Fernandez, Shefali Shah, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Ashutosh Rana, Kiran Kumar

Amongst the innumerable remakes that spring up in Hindi cinema every year, I can’t hold the remake against the original as a huge chunk of these films are unknown entities for me. I happen to be acquainted well with the film that Brothers is adapted from, i.e. Warriors. The 2011 original was supremely grim, slightly contrived and largely dramatic and ruthless in its handling of  severed bonds and their consequences.

Karan Malhotra willingly waters down every ingredient of the film, to accommodate two excruciatingly grating and intolerably long flashbacks and one of them is, to put it politely, quite useless. David (Akshay Kumar) and Monty (Sidharth Malhotra) are, you guessed it right, brothers. According to the film’s technicalities, foster-brothers, but yeah. The wedge driven between them is drawn by their alcoholic father Gary (Jackie Shroff) who is a former “underground fighter”.

The sons take off individually in their father’s flight and grow up to be… “underground fighters”! David has a family and is therefore forced to lead a more secure lifestyle. His daughter has an ailment which is mentioned verbally thrice in the span of thirty minutes and is almost forgotten thereafter. The film overloads itself with stereotypes and works up a formula for the order of proceedings, and that is how it plays out; emotions before the interval, and all the fighting humdrum after.

To be fair, the original film didn’t boast of being very innovative in the first place, but Brothers just goes on to kill any blemish of innovation or experimentation which could have possibly existed. It bludgeons your intelligence with mediocre storytelling, awful commentating and it thrashes your ears with its jarring background score and the painfully unimaginative soundtrack. The extensive length of the flashbacks rule out adequate screen-time and thus any scope for showing any range for the actors.

Jackie Shroff gets to be around as the bumbling, incoherent drunk and he’s a perfect 8 (8 because the film has obviously lowered its own set of expectations). Jacqueline looks good and talks her own limited Hindi. Who could have thought this would have been an achievement for an actor in a Hindi film! Kumar and Malhotra look their parts and immerse themselves in the often technically unsound action sequences. Kareena Kapoor does a faux striptease.

The film’s climax, which was very emotionally touching to see in Warrior, stands overwrought here as there is no empathy for the two pieces of beef grappling on the screen. You’re asked to feel an ocean of grief and a few more things when they fail to earn any of it.

My rating: *1/2 (1.5 out of 5)

Gabbar is Back

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Gabbar is Back
Release date: May 1, 2015
Directed by: Krish
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Shruti Haasan, Sunil Grover, Ishita Vyas, Suman Talwar, Jaideep Ahlawat

The opening credits start with shots of Gabbar/Aditya (Akshay Kumar) from the film alongside animated titles and a song called Warnaa Gabbar Aa Jaayega. The next ten minutes of the film go on about hovering around his beard, fingers, and other bodily features while he creates a list of “the ten most corrupt ‘Thasildars’ in Maharashtra”. Yes, they managed to spell Tehsildar incorrectly, and no one rectified it in a hundred post-production processes. The deliberated introduction is rather pointless, because the opening credits go over and beyond in introducing him.

The film is the Hindi remake of the Tamil film, Ramanaa, which makes it the third remake of the ‘original’. A. R. Murugadoss wrote the dialogues for the original and now he adapts the entire screenplay in this remake. None of the above two facts can compel you to watch this film though. A ham parade ensues right from the beginning where a lawyer (Shruti Haasan) spews “Google stats” all the time. If a lawyer like this were to ever get you bail, she would end up forcing the judge to imprison you forever.

Gabbar keeps targeting corrupt officials from different departments of the government and is also an athletic physics professor in a college where the students ham too. GabbarAditya has some unearthly abilities too, which are absolutely ludicrous and yet absolutely common, just like the remakes of South Indian films. The film’s most unintentionally funny running gag is where Sunil Grover as a police constable tries to make a suggestion to his bosses on how they can catch Gabbar, and all four of them shut him up in different ways.

I could see those four senior inspectors trying to shut everyone in this film up all day long.

I could just stay better off by trying to pretend they shut up too.

Audience-pandering scenes galore and boring action sequences that never gather the required steam and unoriginal and stoneage SMS forwards used as “witty one liners” further aggravate the proceedings. The Chitrangada Singh item number is gawdy to look at, but Chitrangada is not.  Did I tell you that the police officers ham too?

If Gabbar is Back were a sandwich, you’d die of a stale ham overdose.

My rating: ** (2 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) 

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) 

OMG Oh My God


OMG Oh My God
Release date: September 28, 2012
Directed by: Umesh Shukla
Cast: Paresh Rawal, Akshay Kumar, Mithun Chakraborty, Govind Namdeo, Lubna Salim, Murli Sharma, Mahesh Manjrekar, Poonam Jhawer

More than any other source of rationale, the internet and different forms of entertainment have caused the most amount of disbelief in our respective faiths. OMG Oh My God borders on the lines of agnosticism, atheism and theism and the fake godmen business.

Adapted from a Gujarati play Kanji viruddh Kanji (Kanji vs. Kanji) OMG is a tale of an atheist Kanji Lalji Mehta who ironically runs an antique store where he stocks idols of Hindu Gods. Kanji never leaves an opportunity to gain a quick buck off the believers’ blind faith. His wife Susheela (Lubna Salim) is also a ‘god-fearing’ woman who disapproves of her husband’s tactics.

Kanji plays another game off the faith of the people on the occasion of Janmashtami angering a religious guru Siddheshwar Maharaj (Govind Namdeo) which leads Kanji’s family to believe that an earthquake that damaged only his shop was a punishment by God. Soon, he discovers it was indeed only his property that got affected. Being the one who never easily gets discouraged, Kanji files for a compensation from his insurance company.

As his claim gets rejected because the earthquake was an ‘Act of God’, Kanji decides to file a case against God. This is where the actual plot kicks off. Mehta transcends on to a path to make his case work when no lawyers offer their services. Akshay Kumar plays Krishna Vasudev Yadav or GOD! and helps out our protagonist to defend himself in a life-threatening attack on a motorcycle, a chopper bike! The whole sequence isn’t an action masterpiece but it kinda suits the production value of the film.

The second half of the film provides more content to the main lead’s fight against God and the eventual fight with the parasitic God’s men i.e. a few more Babas, a Mata and Muslim maulanas and a priest from the Church. Kanji becomes a mass hero for similar sufferers of a horrible calamity meted out on them by ‘God’. The film shows a journey of a non-believer who finds God in his own being and more importantly of the rich God’s ‘men’ who fool the God-fearing and self-beneficiary tycoons alike.

This story’s underlying theme is a much stronger one than the overlying virtue of believing in God. The early portions of the film aren’t too special, heck even the later serious sequences aren’t too magical either, but there are small glimpses of symbolism and the Kailash Kher song is a strong epiphany of that. Paresh Rawal does a fine job of balancing his portrayal of a sarcastic and ever-inquisitive rationale. The ensemble cast also supports him, except for a few bits of hamming.

OMG Oh My God borders on downright mainstream and socially enlightening applause-fest. The overall film connects but somehow you won’t see anyone taking it seriously.

My rating: **3/4 (2.75 out of 5) 

Rowdy Rathore Review


Rowdy Rathore
Release Date: June 1, 2012
Directed by: Prabhu Deva
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Sonakshi Sinha, Paresh Ganatra,  Yashpal Sharma, Gurdeep Kohli.

The only way I could do justice to the film is by writing my review in rainbow colored font accompanied by jarring underlying sounds that could potentially cause bleeding from your ears. A mishmash collection of things from the ’90s that you’d like to forget (yes, a never-ending Kumar Sanu wedding song) along with a lofty, uninspiring plot is what this film is.

I’m trying to figure out what actually happened during the production meetings held between the makers.

Suit 1: Prabhu Deva sir, we all liked Wanted very much. Any chance of doing something similar with a different actor?
Suit 2: (Interferes) Everyone liked Singham as well, hope you can possibly incorporate some stuff from that.
Prabhu Deva: It must be in Hindi, right?
Suits unanimously: Yes, why else will we even convene a meeting!
Prabhu: Alright, I’m gonna take this film more down-South. We’ll have a lot of belly-button fixated shots. Long shots, close-ups. Doesn’t matter. But lots of stomach. Stomach is the new cleavage.
Suit 1: What about item numbers? Do you know any inexpensive alternatives to the mainstream heroines for that?
Prabhu: Reality show winner? Okay? Will add to the mass appeal.
Suit 2: Anything you say, sir. Keep it austere.
Prabhu: Fixed then. Let’s flip a coin now.
Suit 1: Sir, flipping the coin for deciding the tone of the film, or the cast?
Prabhu: What are you high on? I meant to do that about the script.
Suit 2: Oh, never mind, sir. We’ll just flip the coin about everything. So, when do I send over the check?
Prabhu: Let’s flip a coin for that as well.
Suits collectively laugh and walk into the sunset.

If you don’t get any of that, I’ll sum it up. The first half is as terrible as watching a cat trying to brush its teeth. The second half is your any South Indian masala movie-catalyzed with some 90’s moronic Bollywood trash. There are a few laughs & a rare item number with THREE superbly moving women (special mention to them, Mumaith Khan, Shakti Mohan and Maryam Zakaria) none of the performances are unforgettable. Entertaining in bits and pieces.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5) 

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