Posts Tagged ‘ Arjun Rampal ’

Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh

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Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh
Release date: December 2, 2016
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Tunisha Sharma, Jugal Hansraj, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roychoudhury, Manini Chadha, Amba Sanyal

In the spring of 2012, or as we in Mumbai call it, the relatively less hot days of the year, Vidya Bagchi sifted through the colorful streets of Kolkata to find her husband with a heavily pregnant womb, and some layers of deception running along. In the created universe, Bagchi was an easily believable protagonist. A vulnerable woman with life growing inside her, considered as the most pious state of womanhood by constantly pushed rhetoric and religious propaganda that bills a woman’s motherhood as an ideal.

This time around, she’s not as two-dimensional. Not half as easily believable. In a small song-montage, Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) describes an idyllic Sunday with her paralyzed daughter Mini (Tunisha Sharma). A few minutes later, chaos begins to descend on them, and a car accident later, Sub-Inspector Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) discovers minute details of Vidya’s life through a diary that she maintained until eight years prior to the day.

Soon, another angle floats to the surface. Inspector Haldar (Kharaj Mukherjee) claims that Durga Rani Singh is a wanted criminal who’s forged a new identity, and is apparently in the sleepy town of Chandanagar; “the town that’s as big as a football field”. Durga bears a stark resemblance to Vidya, and that is me putting it mildly. Inderjeet is conflicted about the two sides to the comatose Vidya/absconding Durga situation.

Eventually, from looking for her husband in Kahaani to looking for her daughter in Kahaani 2, the extensive searching and innocuous prying gives way for a prolonged dark exposition of Durga’s origins. Her punctuated loneliness, her social anxiety and a throbbing sense of grasping on to someone who she empathizes with, who she sees herself as a younger version of her own self. Durga confines herself to a tiny house in the hills of Kalimpong, for reasons initially unclear. Bereft of vanity, and any desire to pursue her interests beyond her job at a school, she struggles to make emotional relationships.

This Vidya is far removed from the amiable, and charming, sundress clad Vidya of the earlier film. Her timidity, attributed to a graver issue, can often be alluded to create an element of doubt in her actions and her statements. A looming sense of suspicion hovers around the affairs, much like noir films of the past. The film deals with sexual abuse from a crystallized point of view, where the crime is openly addressed, and quite openly accepted by the perpetrator as well, separating the enablers from the resistor and the sole condemning agent.

Vidya Balan’s performance scales the heights viewers have come to expect from her over the years. She powers through clumsy, everyday violence-like action sequences, and sets the house on fire, literally and figuratively, with psychotic rage for that one slightly predictable final jolt in the plot. Her passionate display, along with fast, brisk cuts in the build-up to the revelation of her character’s years in Kalimpong, supported by a devious Jugal Hansraj, a mean Kharaj Mukherjee, and a weary Arjun Rampal, with a slightly overtly chirpy Manini Chadha as his wife, keep the film heavily gripping for vast parts.

As comparisons are bound to be made, Kahaani 2 is as different of a film as it is similar to Kahaani. There’s a failed attempt at resurrecting a Bob Biswas like mercenary, a purpose for deception and there is expansive range for Balan to be the boss that she is at this acting job, and the limitedly infringing landscapes of Kolkata. Kahaani 2 is pulp, though not as cheesy as genre films, still somewhere a mix between the traditional and bold, constantly entertaining.

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)

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)

D-Day

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D-Day
Release date: July 19, 2013
Directed by: Nikhil Advani
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Arjun Rampal, Nasser, Huma Qureshi, Shruti Haasan, Rishi Kapoor, Chandan Roy Sanyal, K. K. Raina, Imran Hasnee, Shriswara, Dwij

Nikhil Advani’s D-Day starts off  with a literal bang in the form of Duma Dum Mast Kalandar being performed (read as lip synced) by Rajpal Yadav as a member of a wedding band, in a plush Pakistani hotel on Goldman’s son Salim’s pre-marriage party and a secret op occurring in the background. Making you expect a muscling adrenaline infected punch-and-kick extravaganza.

As Goldman (Rishi Kapoor) is almost in trouble as are the special agents, the film goes in a reflective flashback. Building a backstory for all the major characters, namely Wali Khan (Irrfan Khan), Rudra Pratap Singh (Arjun Rampal), Zoya Rehman (Huma Qureshi) the screenplay becomes more inclusive and appears to be dragging. But much later in the second half, they use the same over-ripe character sketches to provide for a twist in the plot.

Rishi Kapoor plays the you-know-who India’s most wanted criminal and with his rose tinted glasses, he seems cut out for the role of an evolved and aging Dawood Ibrahim. Irrfan doles out fine emotions when needed and a mean streak when it gets heavy. He plays the soothing husband to the fittingly casted Shriswara and a spoiling father to Dwij. There are flaws in the plot and the usual “I am calling off the operation, but you don’t have to stop it.” line gets too cheesy for me.

Though the second half is bereft of any such explicit glitches, D-Day embarks on a fantasy trip of defeating the targeted criminals in an overbearing way turning out to be pleasantly (not exactly pleasant, but rather tightly) entertaining. The final story is gripping and glues your butt to the seat. Also, the short monologue by Goldman is utterly hilarious for a satirical tirade along with the final message in Arjun Rampal’s voice just sums up our audiences in a line. Pay attention to that.

The direction is smart and subtle, Advani pits parallel tracks stealthily distracting from the situational music numbers. And given the number of songs with Rampal and Haasan together, bless him for not succumbing to feature in a song and dance fiesta.  The mise en scene renders a hazy texture to the thriller saga and thereby catalyzes Tushar Kanti Ray’s stylish cinematography.

D-Day is intelligent and intentionally non-preachy. Never straying from the agenda, a very strong addition to the very limited Hindi action thriller category.

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

Inkaar

Inkaar Poster
Inkaar
Release date: January 18, 2013
Directed by: Sudhir Mishra
Cast: Chitrangada Singh, Arjun Rampal, Deepti Naval, Vipin Sharma, Shivani Tanksale, Mohan Kapoor

The premise of a corporate fixture that has a serious accusation of sexual harassment lingering is quite interesting in itself. Throw in some confusing emotions between the victim and accused in it and you have a muddled plot.

Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) is an established advertising professional and while at an ad award function he spots Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) She’s a newbie copywriter with a headstrong approach to her job. Their first encounter gets off of a more of a condescending note where Rahul tells Maya that her ad didn’t deserve any award since it didn’t focus much on the product. Soon he starts mentoring her and there is the harmless flirting turning into something more than that.

The relationship that they share becomes complicated with the commitment issues and trust problems forcing the protagonists to separate their paths. When Maya returns, she’s much refined and more goal-oriented than ever. Also engaged to another ad executive who lives in the States. Rahul’s stand over her return remains dubious with his residual feelings coming off as competitive and ego hassles.

The film runs as a background to the sexual harassment investigations held by an independent social worker (Deepti Naval) assisted by other employees of the same firm. The eventual incident which causes the stir is revealed much later in the second half thereby progressing the story between the leads. There are uncomfortable closeups, probably to cause that discomfort that the characters face. But there are moments that perhaps don’t go with the overall look and the feel of the film resulting in overdoing cinematographic gimmicks at many junctures.

The ensemble cast of Vipin Sharma as the sleazy Gupta and Shivani Tanksale as the suspecting co-employee along with Mohan Kapoor perform well, but again there are things that happen out of turn and for no significance. NOT TO FORGET: Saurabh Shukla’s atrocious lipsync to a rock number in hiphoppish attire. Also the dependence on Kanwaljit Singh’s character as Rahul’s dad to sneak out a moral high ground seems weak.

Though many would not agree with the movie’s ending, I, on the other hand find it somewhat reasonable. The message that the makers are trying to put forth is that of maybe acting on instinct and morally right decisions. Though all of this doesn’t make up for the clunky and patchy design of the film.

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

Chakravyuh


Chakravyuh
Release date: October 24, 2012
Directed by: Prakash Jha
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Abhay Deol, Esha Gupta, Om Puri, Manoj Bajpai, Anjali Patil, Murli Sharma, Chetan Pandit, Kiran Karmarkar, Kabir Bedi, S.M. Zaheer

Surrounded by the Kauravas, Abhimanyu is lynched by the ‘chakravyuh’ and Arjuna sees light and rides onto his stallion into the battleground. This is what Mahabharata signifies the importance of chakravyuh as. Does this film actually stands true to its supposed symbolism? A few more paragraphs, perhaps.

Set in the jungles of Madhya Pradesh and its surrounding states, Prakash Jha presents an urban tale of Naxalism with a strong undercurrent of a moral dilemma situation between its protagonists. Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal) is an honest and daring cop. His wife, Rhea Menon (Esha Gupta) is also a cop and works with him in the same department. Adil and Kabir (Abhay Deol) are thick friends and the former even pays for the latter’s college fees through his own scholarship.

A small tussle of egos is depicted with utter irreverence and a feeling of being irrelevant to the subsequent plot. Adil is posted in a Naxalite area, Nandighat and he takes the challenge head on, he eventually creates a plan with Kabir to help him infiltrate the Red Army and make him work as a police’s rat. Kabir, being the volatile rebel, slowly immerses himself into the skin of a Marxist.
Rajan (Manoj Bajpai) and Juhi (Anjali Patil) along with Murli Sharma – whose character’s name I can’t recollect,  sorry – are the heads wanted dead or alive with a bounty on them. They are at the front of Naxalite operations in Nandighat where Adil is newly posted. Om Puri plays Govind Suryavanshi, who is their spiritual and ideological leader.

The actual story of Chakravyuh isn’t the struggle of the Naxals in their own country or the pressing of innocent civilians between the crossfire of the Government and the rebels. It’s the collective infighting of a countryman against another one of his own tribe. There are a lot of moments that border on fringe polarization and straightforward sensationalism, creating a painful view while those scenes last. The background score and the limited music are exceptionally loud most of the times, again, painful. The dialogue isn’t too memorable for such a bold venture as well, but it isn’t quite too finicky and old either.

Overall, Chakravyuh is a well-intentioned film that left this viewer underwhelmed. The film somehow never carries on to that ‘next level’ and the first half turns out to be very slow. Hence, pacing into the climax.  Though bold in its approach (not exactly) and names (yes, totally) with Mahanto, Nandighat you know what Jha’s aiming for, but eventually the film lacks the required finesse.

Chakravyuh is a smarter film compared to a lot of its competition, but that can’t be reason enough for everyone to watch it.

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

Heroine


Heroine
Release date: September 21, 2012
Directed by: Madhur Bhandarkar
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Govind Namdeo, Harsh Chhaya, Shahana Goswami, Mugdha Godse, Sanjay Suri< Rashmi Nigam, Lillete Dubey, Ranvir Shorey, Helen, and a few Bhandarkar regular junior extras.

Stereotypical gay characters, the usual “You bastard” utterances from the female lead, and extreme portrayals of every circumstance are what you expect from a Bhandarkar film. And you do get them! But there’s obviously more nails in the coffin of this ‘heroine’. (All the pun in the Bhandarkar universe intended)

Heroine is a tale of a delusional and insecure actress Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) who’s struggling with her professional and personal life alike. But hey, there HAVE to be sidetracks that don’t mean anything to the narrative of the film. So Mugdha Godse plays some Riya Mehra who is also a rising ‘heroine’ and somehow you get a bisexual male director/producer in an after-coitus scene with a guy who just has three syllables in his verbatim, i.e. bro, dude and babes. He also delivers a line about how the zipper of one’s pants and lips should always remain carefully locked in the movie industry. WOW.

Mahi has a small support staff of three people on the move: an overtly gay fashion designer, a bitchy good-for-nothing-does-nothing friend Rats, and a secretary Rashid bhai (Govind Namdeo) This support staff appears and disappears with no reasoning and logic when our protagonist’s life is hit by hard times. But she still has a personal bar, iPhone, Blackberry, beautiful apartment and a bartender-cum-cook-cum-cleaner-cum-human-robot. If you’re troubled by my use of hyphens in that sentence, that’s how I felt while watching this film.

The caricatures never end. There are tons of inward pointed controversies picked upon here. Almost every controversy EVER! Ranvir Shorey plays an independent small time film director Tarun and gives Mahi achance to act in his first Hindi feature. Here Mahi is in a state of breakdown and in the process of getting back up. Oh wait, she’s always in a state of breakdown. Shahana Goswami tries to guide Kareena’s character to bring out her inner passion for ‘acting’ and slips into a small lesbian sequence. By the way, we have a new symbolic reference for two ladies making out in our films now, it’s two glasses of wine kept together and the women pass on to the bedroom. I hope the gay men don’t complain cos there’s finally a lesbian and bisexual reference as well.

Heroine is a compilation of the worst possible scenarios from different real stories all rolled into one. Nothing good happens. I’ll have to pick out one, for the sheer idiocy of it – Mahi is in the middle of a big spiral downwards and she reaches at an orphanage to adopt a child. Sushmita Sen won’t like it. And I’d advise all of you to contemplate on adopting a child whenever you’re staring into a deep abyss of financial instability and mental trauma. Helen plays out Shgufta, a yesteryear actress who ALSO tries to guide Mahi.

Kareena’s character never really grows with you to make you feel any kind of pain or sympathy whatsoever, because she’s been screaming and screeching right from the start. Heroine remains immature, crass, unrealistic and even stupid at some points. Unrealistic because it just encapsulates every goddamn issue/controversy/hardship that anyone has ever faced in the movie industry in the form of a handful of people.

Heroine is so bad I’m falling short of adjectives to tell you how Bhandarkar it is.

My rating: * (1 out of 5)

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