Posts Tagged ‘ Amitabh Bachchan ’

Pink

pink-poster

Now only if there was a picture of the women being more prominently featured.

Pink
Release date: September 16, 2016
Directed by: Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury
Cast: Taapsee Pannu, Kirti Kulhari, Andrea Tariang, Angad Bedi, Raashul Tandon, Tushar Pandey, Vijay Verma, Amitabh Bachchan, Dhritiman Chatterjee, Piyush Mishra

The year is 2016 AD, humans have existed for over 200,000 years and the concept of civilization is already 6,000 years old. Or at least, that’s what my Google query springs up as an answer from Universe Today to “how long have humans existed”. And yet, it’s no short of a travesty, that the concept of a woman’s consent is still difficult to digest for many men and the society alike.

If the entire world is still trying to grasp this, then how will the prudish uncles in your Delhi neighbourhood get with the program so fast? And how will the entitled princes of pricey cars and extremely fair complexions have an iota of respect for women and their choices?

In a moment, much towards the final third of the film, Deepak Sehgal (Amitabh Bachchan) says, “Maybe we have been doing it all wrong. Maybe it’s the boys who need to be saved. Only when they are saved, will the girls feel safer.” Maybe he’s not too far off from the truth.

Pink starts off with two different sets of friends rushing to places. An all male group, rushing to the ER with Rajveer (Angad Bedi) and his bleeding head, and the other, the trio of Falak (Kirti Kulhari), Andrea (Andrea Tariang) and Meenal (Taapsee Pannu) asking the cab driver to take them home quickly. Meenal is mentally traumatized, Rajveer has severe head trauma.

The cause of these events is kept undisclosed, and remains self-descriptive, as the film builds as a courtroom drama in the post-intermission half. Rajveer is an influential politico’s son, and naturally dabbles in intimidating people beneath him, first with consequences, and then by getting the dirty job done by his lackeys. The women face the wrath of these men and Deepak is almost a lone witness to the entire ordeal.

When Meenal walks in to a police station to complain about the harassment that she’s facing, the cop at the desk gently shames her into withdrawing her requests for any action to be taken by them. “Anyone can make threats, let barking dogs lie.” or much like, “you could be equally blamed for this.” Falak wants peace and approaches the only calm-headed member of the men’s group to resolve the issues between them. Things come to a head when Rajveer enrages her so much so that she calls off the whole truce pact.

Here starts an all guns blaring campaign by Rich Boys & Daddy to frame the women as perpetrators of physical violence, soliciting and much more. Deepak is an influential figure himself, which is evident in an earlier scene. He vows to come out of his retirement to fight their case and grapple with his “manic depression”.

The court proceedings make up for the rest of the film. The prosecutor (Piyush Mishra) makes arguments that may well remind you of a particular Advocate Chaddha of lore (from Damini), he’s even as ruthless as him, but this isn’t the year 1993, where one of the counsel members tries to beat up the other. They shake hands after the verdict is announced. Minor details of the court are overlooked, possibly to include more of Deepak’s private life, and his ailing wife (?)

Technicalities of the judiciary aren’t the film’s best selling points, but the arguments raised definitely are. All four of the film’s protagonists, i.e. Pannu, Kulhari, Tariang, and Bachchan, present compelling performances. The ladies are strong, yet vulnerable in the face of allegations, and mud-slinging. All three of them have different coping mechanisms, Pannu’s character goes in a shell, with a trembling voice; Andrea rebukes the lies and the accusations vehemently, Kirti agitates at the consistent name-calling and the finger-pointing and ends up debunking the opposition’s argument entirely. Bachchan imbibes the mumbling genius persona of his character and underplays his rage at being a first-hand witness to the abuse that the women face, and still makes for a believable underdog.

There are gentle beings too, like the women’s flat owner in Delhi, the non-supportive Rich Boy friend, but they are only a few and subdued for the most part of the film. Much like the real world, the fair and just voices get outnumbered and perhaps numbed by their surroundings. Pink reins in the exacting issues of the rights of women making decisions for themselves and our reactions to them. Be it moving out of their familial setups, choosing to have a drink with someone that they like, or even just flashing a smile to a member of the opposite sex without meaning anything else.

Pink doesn’t make any new discoveries or present any new insights on the patriarchal regression and domination, yet, it depicts important observations on our times. Labeling, patronization, character assassinations, abuse, molestation and rape are a chain of events that women tread closely with every day, every moment of their lives, and  the film is more than a finely-executed and well-made outing for the debutant director. It’s a compelling commentary that makes for compulsory watching.

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

Wazir

wazir-poster

Wazir
Release date: January 8, 2016
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hyderi, Amitabh Bachchan, Manav Kaul, Anjum Sharma, Nasir Khan, Neil Nitin Mukesh

Wazir hits the ground running with a quick montage to show us the origins of Daanish (Farhan Akhtar) and Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hyderi) marriage with Sonu Nigam’s sweet Tere Bin playing in the background. He’s with the Anti Terrorism Squad, and she’s a classical dancer. Together, they raise a daughter and due to Daanish’s one rash decision, their happy family is faced with a gruesome outcome.

There onwards, Daanish is continuously shown as a mope who’s too naive and impulsive for an officer with the amount of experience that he has. He deals with high octane violence and tactical ops, and yet he falls for whatever trap there is laid in front of him. Omkarnath (Amitabh Bachchan) extends an arm of friendship and consolation to the grief-struck Daanish, which he hesitatingly accepts.

The two men share a bond where both of them have a loss of a similar kind, except Omkarnath is an amputee chess maestro who’s organizing a play in his daughter’s memory. His character has a dead wife, a dead daughter, no legs, and was driven out of his home in Kashmir. There are times when he appears too happy for what he’s suffered. That, perhaps, is the gist of the writing for him. He mouths the wittiest of lines and yet, his eyes are too wide. They’re hard to believe. Shockingly, this small detail isn’t put to great use by making Daanish doubt his intentions at any point of the film.

Their common enemy, welfare minister Yazaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul) is the masterful antagonist who’s slimy and classy in equal proportions. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets a good, short cameo and John Abraham makes exactly three appearances as a “hacker” or an IT expert or, seriously, I don’t know what. The action sequences, especially the shootout in the dark scene is shot excellently. The pace never falls slow, which consequently helps yield a taut and gripping film.

Hints for the final ‘reveal’, or twist, are carefully left behind to answer all your questions. Farhan Akhtar brings a degree of restraint to his Daanish, but he can’t elevate the character above the poor writing for him. Daanish, the supposedly smart ATS officer, does things so stupid that Akhtar, the uber cool actor, can’t salvage. Omkarnath, on the other hand, is very calculative and so is Bachchan’s portrayal of the character. The amputee aspect isn’t hammered again and again (Good) and still used in subtle ways. Also, Aditi Rao Hyderi is utterly graceful with her moves and equally adept at being the fragile Ruhana.

Every song is woven well with the narrative, except a generic “Maula Mere Maula” that makes you wonder if you’re still watching the same film or a factory-made one-size-fits-all potboiler. The film earns a lot of points in the not-being-a-bore department by its sheer speed and direction. Bejoy Nambiar has delivered two richly stylized films earlier, and here he tones it down by a few notches and understandably so.

Wazir is a fast-paced film with a not a particularly smart protagonist, but it’s sharp and wily right from the opening titles to the rolling credits.

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

Piku

Piku-Movie-Poster

Piku
Release date: May 8, 2015
Directed by: Shoojit Sircar
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Irrfan Khan, Moushumi Chatterjee, Jishu Sengupta, Raghuvir Yadav, Swaroopa Ghosh

Ambitiously named after the film’s supposed protagonist Piku Banerjee (Deepika Padukone), the film treats the audience as a member of the immediate family of the characters on screen. So much so that it doesn’t even bother telling you Piku’s bhaalo naam or formal name. The drama between the family is open for a balcony view just like how you amuse yourself by eavesdropping on the loud voices emanating from your neighbor’s house.

There are no elaborate “entry sequences” to signify the entrance of any of the film’s characters, it just starts off right in the middle of a chaotic morning at Bhashkor Banerjee’s house in Delhi. There are conversations about bowel movements that your parents usually have with you, and I even take them as far as to my friends and shy barely of making them public to rank strangers. There are conversations about how marriage is futile if you sacrifice on your existence. Then there are annoying conversations, all of these have Bhashkor (Amitabh Bachchan) actively involved in them.

Bhashkor fluctuates between affable, agreeable and outright intolerable. He perfectly captures the spirit of an attention-seeking senior citizen by being as controversial as he can at dinner tables and anniversary soirees, and as authoritarian in a road journey with his daughter Piku and Rana Chowdhary (Irrfan Khan). Except the purpose of this journey is as ill-founded as its outcome. Piku is overworked and over-irked by her father’s theatrics and wants a break. There’s some ancestral house-selling mumbo jumbo, unclear in its detailing, added to the mix.

There are quite a few verbal references to Piku’s sex life, and they seem forced, given the setting of the characters. But it’s just a layer to add to her acceptance towards casual relationships. Moushumi Chatterjee’s Chaubi Masi is too boisterous to be self-deprecating, at least for me. The film itself isn’t quite about a road trip, nor the story of some major transformation or evolution in any of the character graphs. Perhaps, even too simple a story. What helps is that all of it is majorly character-driven.

The principal cast of Bachchan and Padukone nail their Bengali parts darn well. Deepika, in another young single woman role, takes a great deviation in the in-your-face sex appeal of Finding Fanny and is on point with her playful Bengali diction. The most authentic sounding moment is the one where she mouths off “paachcha” at a dinner table and laughs it off in the most unassuming way. Her chemistry with her onscreen father is absolutely superlative. Bachchan delivers an impassioned performance as the grand old man of the Banerjee family. Whereas, Irrfan’s Rana is a tricky hand. He plays a guy who’s much younger than his actual age, yet not too young to be immature. He’s the middling element between the two different sides and he carries it off easily.

Piku (the film) touches upon small quirks very well, like how we may develop the thickest of skins while dealing with family members, but we guard them valiantly anyhow. It is delightful, sweet and enjoyable, but has little success in the “emotion” department, which is a huge dent on its byline — “motion se hi emotion”. The funny family drama, with all its relatable content, could never make me empathize with it.

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

Shamitabh

shamitabh-poster

Shamitabh
Release date: February 6, 2015
Directed by: R. Balki
Cast: Dhanush, Akshara Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan

Far in the open classroom under the village sun, his teacher asks him who was Mahatma Gandhi’s wife. Braving the ire of his schoolteacher, the young boy has the audacity to answer “Rohini Hattangadi”. Does he know the right answer, maybe. Is he obsessed with the movies, aw-frikin-yeah. Only, this young boy is speech-impaired.

Shamitabh is built on eccentrics, theatricals and (somewhat) satire. Even in this universe, it’s difficult to get top star’s dates to make a film; the stars throw tantrums when they don’t get the attention they think they deserve. The scrawny Dhanush plays Danish, who romances the celluloid with all his senses. He’s reprehended at every step, constantly reminded that a person who looks like him can’t become a proverbial Bollywood Superstar. Even his ‘voice’tells him to have a look at himself in the mirror.

The extremely affable goth assistant director Akshara (Akshara Haasan) plays his support plank. She knows of a particular speech therapy that can help Danish to overcome that one major hurdle that seems to be stopping him from all the potential greatness. In their search for help, they fumble upon a homeless Amitabh (Amitabh Bachchan) who also moved to Mumbai to pursue his acting dreams.

The initial setup of Danish and Amitabh’s wizardry is charming to watch. There are inside references in the form of forced dance item numbers being devised to pull in the ‘masses’ for a film that is meant for the ‘classes’. Also, the film plays out as a self-descriptive depiction of the protagonist to a gathered set of media journalists, who clap even at the snidest of the usual boring condescending remarks which paint them as blood-sucking parasites. This is just one of the many forced narratives of this film.

A clash of egos, which was imminent right from the start, takes place around the halfway mark. Danish and Amitabh share a love-hate relationship right from the start. Instead of making this confrontation of heads seem vicious, it’s all passive-aggressive. Everyone knows what passive-aggressive does. It just carries on and on and on. The innovative technological premise which is used to form the base of all conflict could have been perfectly suitable for a Broadway-esque metaphorical skirmish of the two strong-headed men.

An easy excuse for all the constant-logging of heads could be that how even the bluest of collar wielding underdogs can let fame get to their head. But even that gets tedious to bear with with the developing stagnancy of the film. The film descends into an all out pestering attempt at going into an unnecessary overdrive of emotions. The emphatic individual performances of Bachchan, Dhanush and the surprisingly natural Haasan cannot salvage the overall film.

The dialogue is part philosophical and part witty; out of which Bachchan scores the most ones. But he goes the extra mile with his portrayal too, it’s not just a change of wardrobe and hair here. Dhanush completes the transformation of a young, bhajiya selling film buff to a manipulative, suave megastar without ever uttering a word in his own voice. There is simply nothing to hate about Akshara’s character. How she prioritizes her choices and how she gels the two warring titular characters with her all-black determined gumption.

There are portions which I loved, characters that I adored, and then there is the film that left me feel slighted.

My rating: **3/4 (2.75 out of 5) 

PS: The final rating was indulgently influenced by the beautiful picturization of the Ishq-E-Phillum number.

 

Satyagraha

Satyagraha_Poster Satyagraha
Release date: August 30, 2013
Directed by: Prakash Jha
Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Indraneil Sengupta, Ajay Devgn, Amrita Rao, Kareena Kapoor, Manoj Bajpai, Arjun Rampal, Vipin Sharma, Vinay Apte

Satyagraha, Prakash Jha’s take on corruption and its deep roots in our administration, has a lot to offer. Star power, acting prowess and a country background to evoke sympathy for a topic that is consistently in the headlines are the things already working in its favor.

Manav Raghavendra (Ajay Devgn) is an ambitious youngster with a capitalistic mindset, who is ironically best friends with a socially benevolent bureaucrat in the making Akhilesh Anand (Indraneil Sengupta) whose father is an upright system-bashing retired school teacher Dwarka Anand (Amitabh Bachchan) Quoting cliches and going out on a limb against Manav’s existence, Dwarka drives him out of their home and poor Manav can’t even attend Akhilesh and Sumitra’s (Amrita Rao) wedding. Flash forward a few years down the line and both Akhilesh and Manav are in their desired positions.

Tragedy soon strikes and the Anand family faces the ignominy of paying up bribes for their deserved rights and payments. This is where the premise of an impending revolution is laid, as the promises made by the partisan leader Balram Singh (Manoj Bajpai) turn out to be void. In the absence of a second-in-command for the awakening, a small time baahubali Arjun (Arjun Rampal) and the returning tycoon Manav offer support. Incorporating the Satyendra Dubey case and the inception and the eventual falling out of the Jan Lokpal committee,

Satyagraha has less to offer on the shock factor, but the focus at how the decisions and the internal conflicts of the members of the committee develops an interesting story. The individual characters’ dilemmas show how possibly the actual Jan Lokpal could have possibly disintegrated. As much as all other of Jha’s recent films are laced with an antagonist with an underlying dumb sense of humor, Balram and his lackeys possess the same traits.

The screenplay is testing at times, the drama starts gripping you around the halfway mark. The best part about Satyagraha though is that all the characters have shades of gray, they commit mistakes and they realize (of course it’s the good guys I’m talking about) there is character growth and a graph which is clearly visible. And as for the actors, they put in great effort to play their parts right. But there’s a certain level of phony air surrounding the film which simply doesn’t let go till the end. Like Bachchan is emaciated right until the climax, but suddenly cuts a different figure at the end. The sound quality of the dialogue is suddenly very low. The extras appear clueless.

Consequently, Satyagraha is a good drama with some usual staple typecasting and unimaginative lines. Not the best film about the concerned topic, surely competitive.

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

Bombay Talkies

Bombay_Talkies_2013_Poster
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) 

Chashme Buddoor (Original Remastered)

chashme-baddoor-poster
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

%d bloggers like this: