Posts Tagged ‘ Anupam Kher ’

M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story

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M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story
Release date: September 30, 2016
Directed by: Neeraj Pandey
Cast: Sushant Singh Rajput, Anupam Kher, Bhumika Chawla, Rajesh Sharma, Kumud Mishra, Kiara Advani, Disha Patani

Growing up, I was quite the anti-establishment/contrarian kid. I opined that the world’s greatest batsman isn’t that. Triple H wasn’t boring in the early 2000s. Shah Rukh Khan isn’t the demigod that he is. One among a long list of such views was that Mahendra Singh Dhoni isn’t all that heroic. Especially, after assuming the captaincy of the Indian team. Sure, he was winning it all, but then he wouldn’t often put himself in the line of fire when the situations demanded. Rather, he would only promote himself up the batting order when things are safer; then came along April 2, 2011, the night of the World Cup Final, and all of my doubts were vanquished by him.

I grew up to realize that Tendulkar definitely is the greatest batsman, Triple H was indeed boring then, and Khan is a demigod. Dhoni played up the order, struck his helicopter shots and won us the cricket world cup, and along the way earned my prized lifelong fandom. M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story builds up to this lovely crescendo, thereby avoiding all mention of the few clouds of controversy that came to surround the franchise he plays for, and is “coincidentally” the vice-president of the team’s holding company, India Cements.

There isn’t much to his initial cricketing abilities, as he’s picked up for wicketkeeping due to his goalkeeping skills in the school’s football team. Post that, there isn’t much either, as he’s shown saying that he likes batting better, and one day, he wows the people around him with his genetically gifted (?) batting display. Without rhyme or reason, Dhoni (Sushant Singh Rajput) is soon, the best batsman that pre-Jharkhand Bihar has to offer. What’s missing in the technicalities, is made up for by in the way of shifting the focus to the people around him. Be it his hesitatingly supportive parents, the local sport merchandise seller’s belief in getting him sponsorship for a kit, or his friends who pool their savings and take turns to drive all night to help him reach a particular destination.

Dhoni finds supporters in his employers too, reminding one of an era gone by, where people actually cared for others’ aspirations, or even acting as just a gentle source of inspiration. The origins of the Captain Cool monicker attached to the man aren’t established, it’s just the way he is. Sushant Singh Rajput, though, pulls it off excellently, only as he can. His struggles are easy to empathize with, earnest in will, and purely inspiring. Much like Dhoni himself, the state and national hero.

The post intermission half depicts the ascension of the man, and changes in haircut and him filming endorsements at usual intervals. Then, the part of the “The Untold Story” comes in to play, where Priyanka (Disha Patni) comes across a fairly new, yet popular, to the scene MS Dhoni on a certain flight and asks him to get her an autograph from another player. He falls for the whole, “Oh, she doesn’t know me. This is so fresh.” profile, and then there is another romance in quick succession, when he again, to no one’s surprise, falls for another girl who doesn’t recognize him. Women come in only as romantic interests, and their relationships aren’t even different from each other. The other women besides them, Dhoni’s sister (Bhumika Chawla) and a coach’s wife exist only to serve tea, and act as cheer leaders respectively.

With only a single mention of the IPL, and the names of senior players muted in a team meeting, the film hardly scratches below the surface of the news reports that we may have come to read in the past. Some of the real Dhoni’s personal traits, like his wit, his curt replies to media queries, are very well reflected in the reel Dhoni. The film humanizes the most successful Indian cricket captain to a fair extent, when he introspects the state of his life and his railway job, disappointment at missing out a crucial flight, and the loss of a loved one. What the film fails to shed light on, and disappointingly, are his leadership qualities, his instinctive decisions that he has gone to make on the field, and even his dynamics with any of the other cricket team members.

Every time he is in the dressing room, or the hotel, he is always alone. It’s difficult to comprehend if it’s a deliberate attempt to show him as a lone wolf, or just plain cinematic liberties being exercised.

A heavily talented ensemble cast lends much credence to even small parts, right from a school coach, to his co-employees in the railways. Dhoni, the man, epitomizes a lower to middle class family’s character, a small town youth’s growth to a national hero, and a temperament that perfectly spells out a vanilla good boy, with an undying resolve; and these are the only parts Neeraj Pandey seems to concern himself with.

Hardly bold or risque, unlike M.S. Dhoni’s cricketing persona, the film is a good compilation of the greatest hits of the man’s life, until it comes undone towards the end of the second act of the film. Sushant Singh Rajput and the rest of the cast, rise above the decisions of the makers, quite similar to how Mahi, and his teams did, over the years, in spite of the political mess the cricket control boards found themselves in.

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

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Roy

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Roy
Release date: February 13, 2015
Directed by: Vikramjit Singh
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ranbir Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Shibani Dandekar, Rajit Kapur, Anupam Kher

Crying babies and ringing mobile phones are an avid cinema viewer’s worst nightmare. There was one crying baby right behind me when I went in to watch Roy. I feared how it would ruin my whole movie experience. In the initial few scenes, I do admit to be disturbed by the shrieking and weeping of the kid.

As the film progressed, the baby was the least of my concerns.

Placed between heavy articulated and glossy ‘artsy’ sceneries, Roy is supposedly a romantic-thriller that offers absolutely no thrill or enduring romance. Kabir (Arjun Rampal) is an unchallenged filmmaker who rambles about some robbery on a talk show and that robbery is forcibly woven into a fictional character’s existence. The said fictional character is Roy, created by Kabir for his hit film franchise.

Kabir is incredibly pretentious and right until the end, he has no redeemable qualities to build any affinity or sympathy for him. He starts writing his next film’s script after fixing the cast and crew. There is a very pointless conversation about ‘inspiration’ with his father (Anupam Kher is wasted as the father here.) Once inspired, on the sets of his film, he meets Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez) who is also a filmmaker, except she’s an “intellectual”; which just means that she wears reading glasses and read books with a glass of wine in her hand. Some love involuntarily happens, some parallel track with Ayesha’s lookalike keeps developing. Will you care? Nope.

Kabir is said to have had 22 casual flings before he meets Ayesha, and then by some god-knows-what wizardry, he falls in ‘love’ with Ayesha. There is no insight on why he feels like how he does, no reasoning for why he was a complete douchebag before his heartbreak. The alternative parallel track has Kabir playing out moments from his real life in a cinematic manner, through the eyes of his film’s protagonist. He keeps incorporating events from his life into Roy’s life. The ‘smart’ Ayesha also breaks into rambunctious Hindi filmish song-and-dance too!

The relationships between Kabir and Ayesha, and Roy and Tia are shown to be the headlining points of the film, yet there’s virtually nothing between their conversations that should keep you interested in the proceedings. The characters mouth philosophical lines about, often ending these lines abruptly. Is it done to create a sense of mystery around them, I asked myself at various junctures, only to realize that there is nothing on offer.

In a certain scene, Kabir says to his assistant/deputy that he hasn’t even started writing the screenplay of a film which he’s just days away from shooting. This confession seems increasingly true as Roy (the film) keeps meandering directionless. No actor has any material to chew into, only stylish clothes to wear and exotic locations to roam around.

There is not a single indication of what the actual conflict of the film is, or what the payoff can possibly be. There are no real obstacles to conquer. There is absolutely nothing here. Just a bunch of well-dressed people playing “Let’s make a hollow film but just pretend to be serious about it.”

Ever come across someone who keeps talking in riddles, and those mindbenders have no clear answers or a purpose? If Roy–the film– were a person, it would be just like that. After the halfway mark, I couldn’t care about the crying baby because I was numbed with the constant frustration induced by the constant stream of garbage on screen.

My rating: ½ (0.5 out of 5)

Daawat-e-Ishq

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Daawat-e-Ishq
Release date: September 19, 2014
Directed by: Habib Faisal
Cast: Anupam Kher, Parineeti Chopra, Aditya Roy Kapur, Karan Wahi

A setup so good that you don’t want to hate the bad bits. That is how Daawat-e-Ishq is built up. It doesn’t have much to do with food either.

Daawat-e-Ishq plays up the concerns of a middle-class Muslim family in the technologically advanced and socially spiraling city of Hyderabad, and it warns you right at the start of the film with a disclaimer. Detailing the intricate bond of the single father-daughter duo of Abbu ji, shortened to Buji (Anupam Kher) and Gulrez shortened to Gullu (Parineeti Chopra), down to them having their nicknames imprinted on their coffee mugs, perhaps from a mall kiosk. Gullu drops her father at the Court and talks of her dreams on their scooter rides. Gullu was a state topper in academics and brilliant in basketball, but all of that doesn’t count for anything in the world of matrimony and sales.

The world of matrimony and sales is painted with caricatures, perhaps in an attempt at keeping the mood light and not too bogged down by the theme. For major parts of the film, right until the halfway mark, they succeed. From the uneducated ones to the ones aspiring for a masters degree in the United States, everyone throws the same condition for marriage. Gullu takes this as a personal insult and begs her father to join her in turning the tables on the suitors around India. Some emotional hogwash helps in turning Buji on Gullu’s side and they concoct a plan to avenge the ignominy imposed upon them by countless families and years of blindly followed stupid tradition.

Many grave realities are dealt with in an offhanded and satirical matter-of-fact manner. All of these realities in themselves can create subplots of their own, but they are kept grounded to make the film seem like a grand con job. And Parineeti and Kher transform into another persona for that con job very well. The real racewinning chemistry is here between them, even the romantic pairings of Chopra-Karan Wahi or Chopra-Kapur fade in comparison.

Ranging between being goody-too goody and compromising their moral fiber, almost all the involved characters have a shade of grey looming around them. The miniscule hints of circumstantial wit is evident throughout the movie, like for when Kapur, a restaurant owner from Lucknow disses the biryani from Hyderabad by calling it zeher and yet licking his fingertips. The delivery and timing of Kher, Chopra and Kapur are laced with local flavors from Hyderabad and Lucknow and they don’t get out of their character for even once.

Out of the songs used, although a bit tedious at times, I loved the placement of the title track and the qawwaali used in a mild chase sequence is a piece of oddball comedy. If I were to give you a review only until that title track, this review would have been a bit shorter and also less critical of the main conflict, which is over-simplified to keep everything sweet, simple and cute, and that only proves to be the film’s undoing. The spunk dies out and cheesy overdrawn cliches unveil themselves towards the end.

Daawat-e-Ishq is a well-intentioned film, which gets only pulled down by its own reluctance at being anything more than just that. It’s your easy watch, only you start feeling too overfilled with it.

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

Chashme Baddoor

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Chashme Baddoor
Release date: April 5, 2013
Directed by: David Dhawan
Cast: Ali Zafar, Divyendu Sharma, Siddharth Narayan, Taapsee Pannu, Anupam Kher, Bharti Achrekar, Rishi Kapoor, Lilette Dubey

Falling on the mighty back of the 1981 original, the remake borrows heavily from it. Every major plot device is the same, only tweaked in the smallest possible way.

The basic plot remains the same, and the makers go out on a limb to incorporate every major situation/scene from the classic. I’m making an attempt at how the writers were asked to come up with the screenplay. Probably handed over a checklist with the following bullets.

  • Chamko detergent segment.
  • Make Siddharth the good guy. (We don’t care if you can’t show it by his mannerisms and other nuances, just make some of the ensemble cast say it loud for the audience.)
  • The boys must have an outstanding debt.
  • Make Jai and Omi escape through the window and stand on the building ledge, when Seema (not Neha) comes to see Jai.
  • Use the same dated kidnapping shtick to make the protagonist win over the girl at the end.

There’s the usual, “deliver a pseudo-funny line at every juncture, the circumstances of the story should have absolutely no effect on the viewer and keep them laughing” forced humor. (WHY!?)

Out of the two new sub-plots, one is in which Rishi Kapoor substitutes Saeed Jaffrey’s Lallan Miyaan and add a romantic interest for him, i.e. landlord Lilette Dubey. And the second features Anupam Kher in a pointless double role as Seema’s (Taapsee Pannu) father and uncle. Both of the above have absolutely zero impact and add very less to the narrative. Out of all the performances, Divyendu’s jokes do less, and his delivery along with his expressions in rest of his scenes somewhat elevates the film.

The songs try too hard to be witty by making the lyrics, uh, whatever they are. The speed and the loudness of the thick beats does little to help them either. Also, there’s poor dubbing or as though it seems. There are awkward cuts and therefor there are obvious issues with this remake in every department. The laughs come in throughout, but new material is far and few between.

Chashme Buddoor‘s original flavor has a lot to keep you entertained, but yet this Chashme BADdoor failed to keep this viewer amused. Perhaps, it was their way of warning us how the remake is going to be different from the original by putting a ‘BAD’ right there in Buddoor.

My rating: ** (Two stars out of five)

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) 

Jab Tak Hai Jaan


Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Release date: November 13, 2012
Directed by: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma

Placed in the midst of ginormous expectations and sour comments over the initial release of its videos, Jab Tak Hai Jaan had a lot of roadblocks as challenges in its way, even before hitting the screens. Did it live up to the expectations? Sure, read on!

Set in London around 10 years ago, Samar Anand (Shahrukh Khan) is a youngster who’s looking for a job to break his family tradition of being an officer in the army because his mother doesn’t want any more military deaths in her family. Or so he says. He does odd jobs and tries to earn as much as he can. And while doing one such cleaning job, he comes across Meera Thapad (Katrina Kaif) heading into a church. She’s got her own way with God where she asks for things and gives up a thing in return to please him.

After a song and a rare smoking sequence featuring our lead actress in her engagement dress, Meera and Samar have their first real conversation. Along the way they pull off the brilliantly captured dance sequence preceding Ishq Shava and the scenery around it. Katrina dances with much oomph and you are pretty much shocked. This is where the protagonists’  feelings get convoluted and the much obscure hurdles now start surfacing. There are no tyrannical fathers and uncles, but there are spiritual (?) issues.

Akira (Anushka Sharma) is a peppy, self-proclaimed ‘heartless bitch’ who bears a stark contrast to Samar and Meera’s approach to love and relationships. She’s not scared of jumping out of relationships and doesn’t care about anything beyond sex.  And she isn’t scared of jumping into ice-cold water for a dare too! Uh, okay. Akira is acquainted with a much calm and serious layer of Samar’s personality as now he defuses bombs without protective gear. But he has his reasons for that. She’s intrigued about him and decides to share this story of a fearless man who’s diffused 98 bombs so far.

What you see in this plot isn’t hunky-dory bubblegum material crap, you get to watch people in their actual habitats: cussing, enjoying, kissing and sharing private humor. Which is where the strength of the film lies, the women aren’t insecure about their man’s choices, and independent in their own element. Meera is grounded yet confident about her decisions, Akira flirts to the extent of picking up Samar to make him get into his element. Yes, there’s the part where Samar calls Akira by ‘Kurosawa’.

Anil Mehta’s cinematography is brilliant and so artistically pleasing that sometimes, you forget there’s also a floundering story playing on the same screen. More than the music, the instrumental theme of JTHJ is more catchy and melodious. Even Challa isn’t a video capturing London’s scenery, it serves a purpose and yes, Shahrukh strums the guitar when the guitar’s playing in the back, unlike the cutsized promos. Saans shows you immaculate chemistry between the characters and I’ve already praised the entire Ishq Shava sequence. There’s light witty comedy as well, but it’s only subtle.

Yash Chopra shows how he’s evolved since his last film Veer-Zaara, he doesn’t hold back from letting his characters cuss like youngsters usually do and making them unpretentious and more real. There is no dancing around trees in chiffon sarees for the heroines and no cringe-in-your-seat moment. Shahrukh shows the shift in his character’s evolution with charm, Katrina looks like a million bucks and retains the grace associated with quintessential Yashraj heroines. Anushka plays her chirpy and upfront brash character smoothly.

Finally, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a love story based on the conflict between a woman’s beliefs and love, and a man’s undying passion. It’s a film laced with its own imperfections and pivotal flaws with the screenplay, although perfectly finished in many departments. Yashji’s final outing as a director is quite watchable.

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

Kya Super Kool Hain Hum


Kya Super Kool Hain Hum
Release date: July 27, 2012
Directed by: Sachin Yardi
Cast: Tusshar Kapoor, Ritesh Deshmukh, Neha Sharma, Sarah Jane Dias, Anupam Kher

(‘Witty’ one-liner alert. Scroll down to the last line before the final rating. That sums up the entire review.)

What you expect is not what you’ll get and what you don’t expect you’ll not get it either. That is the lesson Kya Super Kool Hain Hum taught me. A film that brands itself as an adult comedy, you’re bound to get a few below the belt jokes and a few abuses thrown out in between.

But hey, what you get is one-liners stolen from the ‘popular tweets’ section of newspapers, tons of indirect references to the protagonists’ sexuality in some morse code that is obviously bereft of the word ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’. I’m sure homosexuality is some devious monster that is more sentimentally hurting than a ‘chutiya’ or  a ‘machodunga’ or horrific camera angles.

The plot is as forced as me trying to type out the plot. The palmist from the first part (Kya Kool Hain Hum) is replaced with a tarot card reader who tells Adi (Tusshar Kapoor) that a girl whose name starts with the letter ‘S’ will bring him luck and rejuvenate his ailing acting career. Deja vu! DJ Sid (Ritesh Deshmukh) is his room-mate. Sid makes more money by breeding his ever-sexually-potent dog than by DJ-ing at events. Wow!

Sid gets a gig spontaneously and it’s a fashion show where Anu (Sarah Jane) trips on the ramp and faces a wardrobe malfunction. Anu holds Sid accountable for this and starts looking for revenge. Don’t even think of understanding the logic behind a DJ being responsible for a nip-slip. You won’t even get one! Meanwhile, Adi finds his lucky girl Simran (Neha Sharma) who is a rich girl who wants to get all independent by not marrying her parents’ chosen boy. The two girls are obviously friends.

Now that we have a plot, we’re witness to random skits taken straight out of comedy shows and more not-so-funny one liners. Even Razzak Khan makes a appearance with the same schtick from the last film. I’m not just complaining about the silly storyline or random gags, the cameras and flipshots are painfully ugly and the overall setup of the film is too improbable to be true.

And this one is my own ‘one-liner’ to the film’s director Sachin Yardi in the same rhyme scheme way that he’s used profusely in the film. Here it goes,
Yaar Sachin Yardi, tune to picture ki gaand maar di.”

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

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