Posts Tagged ‘ Farhan Akhtar ’

Baar Baar Dekho

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Baar Baar Dekho
Release date: September 9, 2016
Directed by: Nitya Mehra
Cast: Sidharth Malhotra, Katrina Kaif, Sarika, Ram Kapoor, Sayani Gupta, Rohan Joshi, Taaha Shah, Rajit Kapur

Katrina Kaif’s character keeps asserting that there are two kinds of people in the world, drivers and passengers. She says this to infuse into her husband’s confused demeanor, hoping him to finally take the initiative about something in their marital lives. Similarly, there are two kinds of films, ones that tell a story that we all know, and the others that focus on making something relatively new and light on cliches.

Nitya Mehra, self admittedly is fond of cliches. “I did not go out there thinking, “Oh I need to break away from the mould”. That’s what my upbringing has been and I am very inspired by world cinema. I don’t think there is anything wrong in clichés. Clichés exist because they connect with people. So I actually enjoy the clichés. Certain things like love and family, these are all universal and they are not going to be dated with time.” She says all of this here.

I agree with all of it. She takes old moral lessons and a few contemporary themes and weaves them into an ambitious story that bounces back and forth between the now and the very technologically advanced future. The film starts off with the opening credits along with a small montage of how Jay (Sidharth Malhotra) and Diya (Katrina Kaif) grew up together and fell in love. This footage is so well-made that it could have easily been passed off as a Taylor Swift number from late 2000s and early 2010s. Jay grows into a dork who has a thing for math, or “Vedic Maths” and he thinks that a family is expendable. A career isn’t.

Diya wants to make a marriage out of their decades-long romance. And just like in every other modern work of fiction, where a marriage is involved, we get a person questioning their choice of getting locked down with this another person for the rest of their lives. This has become so common, that every TV show, film, web-series, or a goddamned listicle can’t go without it. I’ll be surprised if someone suddenly shows me two very confident people sticking to their decisions.

Here starts the display of angst-ridden, commitment phobia and plain dickery by Jay who badgers the priest (Rajit Kapur) with questions about the “logic” behind all of the ceremonies in a Hindu wedding. I call it dickery, because he chose to be involved in this. He said yes to the proposal of a wedding from his girlfriend, and this isn’t a Christopher Hitchens invitational. His character could have set his foot down on the do’s and the don’ts of the whole affair, but he didn’t. Instead, he despises every part of the long drawn-out matrimonial procession.

There’s a breaking point for this already broken and feeble protagonist where he makes clear that marriage is a big, bad, ugly mistake. Okay, those may not be his exact words and could be mine, but he says something to that effect. Watching Rajit Kapur play that priest also felt like a big, bad, ugly mistake on the casting director’s part. Jay falls into a time spiral where he keeps taking exponential leaps in the future, and he sees how his life could be if he made different choices or stays unbent in his ways. He seeks the priest’s advice and every time Rajit Kapur spews his redundant verbiage about life and morality and blah blah blah, I couldn’t help grimace.

Minor factual inaccuracies pop up, like making people call the sport “soccer” and not “football” in England, and ordering a butter chicken and butter naan and extra butter and not showing it at all!? Where is all that glorious fat and diabetic goodness of butter and chicken gravy and naan, man?

The film needs to be lauded for its depiction of the future, be it 2018, 2023, or 2047. Technological advancements are omnipresent, reminding you of that large, sentient talking screen in Black Mirror. The scale of visuals is commendable, and the constant effort of burdening Sidharth Malhotra with emoting a lot is a bold decision. I opine that he isn’t a poor actor, but then his character is a confused customer. He only sees clarity in mathematical mumbojumbo, which in a way, contributes largely to him having a range of befuddled expressions throughout the emotional parts of the film.

The writing is potent at times, and even ends up developing a story for the supporting cast as well. The lines, not as much. Katrina Kaif, to her credit, in a role where she has to perform a bunch of feelings over and over again, in a recursive fashion, does mighty well. Though, she is incomprehensible in the scenes where she’s asked to cry and recite lines at the same time.

Baar Baar Dekho, with a cheesy name and a somewhat cheesy plot, isn’t particularly grating to watch. Rather, it’s an interesting film for the huge leap it attempts to make in futuristic storytelling. Then again, the protagonist’s resolution and transformation comes in a little too late and isn’t even fulfilling either. A heavier metamorphosis wouldn’t have necessarily helped the cause either, but the agents or harbingers of change are not very credible here.

A little bit more fun, and a little less labored contemplating would have probably made the film crisper.

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

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Wazir

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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)

Dil Dhadakne Do

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Dil Dhadakne Do
Release date: June 5, 2015
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Parmeet Sethi, Vikrant Massey, Ridhima Sud, Zarina Wahab

If Karan Johar were to make Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in the year 2015, and on a Mediterranean cruise, there’s a probability it could had have been closer to Dil Dhadakne Do. Pointless, unnecessary comparison aside, it would have had to cut down on some healthy jingoism and overt flash and the melodramatic razzmatazz.

2015 calls for a crisper, and a lighter hand at the job. 2015 calls for Zoya Akhtar to play with a family drama, which has bits and parts of relative predictability, with dollops of individual charisma and charm. The Millionaire Mehras, Neelam (Shefali Shah) and Kamal (Anil Kapoor) have an ordinary marriage crumbling on the inside, and a business that’s faced with a similar fate. To salvage one of the two, they host a wedding anniversary party on an exuberant ship which will take their guests around Istanbul.

Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is being prepped to take over as the heir once the Kamal steps down. Kabir tries. Kabir falters. Kabir flies a plane to get over it (!?).  Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) is the driven-away daughter who’s grown on to be a successful businesswoman, post her halfhearted marriage to Manav (Rahul Bose) The Mehra parents are obviously discriminatory.

Along with being discriminatory, or sexist, they’re hypocrites just like every other human being, as their pet Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan) points out. They are bigoted and dysfunctional, just like an ordinary set of old folks, no matter how rich or poor they may be. This is where the perennially impeccably dressed Mehras become fallible and vulnerable characters. What Zoya Akhtar doesn’t try to do out of her way is to make the supremely flawed parents become likable and utterly revered seniors from Baghban, instead she keeps them humane and grey.

The children bear the brunt and the fruits, of which they’re frequently reminded of their obligation towards the fruits they’ve cherished all their lives. They are asked of life-altering compromises in return at times. Ayesha and Kabir, as siblings, have grown past the age of petty fights and name-calling. They’ve graduated to silently understanding what the other feels, knowing where the other deserves his/her support, and when to let them handle the screw-up of the day.

The strongest relationship is shared by the siblings and the performances put in by Singh and Chopra enthuse the deserved spirit into their characters. Ranveer’s Kabir is cool, urbane and witty and not at all over-the-top boisterous showboarder; he’s the younger of the two and thus, fairly rebellious. Priyanka’s Ayesha is the older, much matured sister that knows her parents won’t give her credit where it’s due. Yet, she’s moved past that and is coping with a modern (go on, read modern as millennial, you internet-junkie) loveless marriage. And both of them run away with as much as they can by unrelentingly extracting from their screen time.

Anil Kapoor sportingly wields strands of grey hair and slips into the self-serving megalomaniac Kamal’s skin. He personifies the faulty patriarch. Shefali Shah’s Neelam is dealt a rough path. She’s stuck in a marriage, like many other women from any background find themselves, where the wife is being taken for granted and hence in turn, detonates the bomb of passive-aggression, forever. Shah is simply brilliant throughout, especially in the scene where she’s exemplifying the decorum for her son.

Dil Dhadakne Do is heartbreakingly authentic and harsh in the moments where the family is struggling to come to terms to the ground realities of their current lives. All the millions in the world can’t give you complete control over the events in your life. It’s here that the film earns its ticket price. It takes a set of elite, classic “10 percent” haves and makes them not seem stumbling drunks, addicts or weeping bags of douchebags. They manage to deal with it, albeit in stylish suits and on lavish locations.

Light humor and powerful cameos by Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar and the entire ensemble cast ensures there’s no seasickness on this voyage. How could I not make a sea metaphor!
Special mention to the single-shot approach on the song Gallan Goodiyaan. The song starts off as annoyingly loud and then seamlessly transitions into a fun number.

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

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag

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Bhaag Milkha Bhaag
Release date: July 12, 2013
Directed by: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Pawan Malhotra, Yograj Singh, Prakash Raj, Divya Dutta, Rebecca Breeds, Meesha Shafi, Dalip Tahil, Sonam Kapoor, Nawab Khan, Art Malik

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag starts from a race and keeps building toward another race. Based upon Milkha Singh, a former track and field sprinter, it chronicles his glory days right through thick and thin. The timeline of events in non-linear though.

In the freshly partitioned landscapes of Pakistan, a young Milkha makes his way to India. He’s a tough kid, he gains a street cred by fitting in with the local teenagers. Isri Kaur (Divya Dutta) is Milkha’s much older and married sister who looks after him. Reveling in his cheap tricks, Milkha starts growing up. Beero (Sonam Kapoor) makes Milkha fall in love with her and he wants to straighten his ways just to impress her.

Much later in the army, he sleeps looking at her photograph. His running abilities have got him out of predicaments and all of the memorable situations that made him bhaag (run) are depicted at separate junctures throughout the narrative. One such interesting tale helps Milkha get selected for the defense sports team.

The film captures Milkha’s failures and victories along the way, all building up to a much hyped contest in Pakistan and why he won’t run in Pakistan. That is supposedly the film’s major and prime conflict which doesn’t connect you with his struggle. The intended suspense isn’t unpredictable or unforeseen, and you always have an inkling what is about to happen. And that’s the approach the makers have taken, they’re reaching a known conclusion by simply portraying Milkha’s journey and his outrightly likable demanour.

They play up his inner demons liberally and try to make the film all about it. Reasons for Milkha to run are presented to us and his urge to attain closure are what carry the film forward to its impending end. I usually don’t complain about a film’s running length if it is taut and riveting. BMB with all its heavy drama and beauteous picturization of the running sequences couldn’t warrant a three hour runtime if it hadn’t been for the number of subplots they’ve decided to show.

BMB is heavy on emotions and I am a sucker for them, but the dialogues couldn’t evoke the aimed empathy at times. Was it the writing or the delivery and casting, I gets hard to make out. Art Malik’s part as Milkha’s father was painful to watch for me, the extras were annoying especially towards the end in a press conference sequence. These flaws were more than compensated by Pawan Malhotra and Divya Dutta’s performances. Malhotra as Milkha’s guiding light is utterly captivating to watch.

Above all Farhan Akhtar’s acting grows on you, as you expect a typical loudmouth Sikh from him and instead he delves in his underplaying qualities and therefore helping Milkha’s character to grow. Not to mention his Hercules-like sculpted body. The amount of pain that his character is suffering, the strides in his run and his super sit-ups and push-ups finely accentuate Milkha’s disciplined drive for the sport.  For a period film, BMB doesn’t look particularly detailed. Binod Pradhan instead uses the easily available visuals and capitalizes on their unnoticed inherent appeal.

Is this a masterpiece by the standards of world biopics? No, it isn’t. Rather it grounds the title character. He is not an out-and-out-do-gooder hero, and the same can be said about the film. Bhaag Milkha … isn’t an enlightening lesson in history, it is more of a tale of true emotions and a story that deserves attention, not necessarily in this way.

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

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