Posts Tagged ‘ Imtiaz Ali ’

Tamasha

tamasha-poster

Tamasha
Release date: November 27, 2015
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Piyush Mishra, Javed Sheikh, Vivek Mushran, Istiyak Khan

Tamasha is not a “rom-com” as you may have been led to believe by any person, living or dead; any source, correct or invalid. If it were just a “love story”, I’d call it lopsided, as I often blame Imtiaz Ali’s constructed romances of being that way. Right from the start of the film, it gives you a lot to chew on: a running gag between a clown and a Tin Man-like robot which soon transcends into a small backstory of one of the film’s protagonists, which is interspersed by flashes of tales that the said protagonist heard from an old storyteller in Shimla.

Then, it’s untidily divided into four chapters. “Teja Ka Sona”, “Ishk Wala Love”, “Andar Ki Baat” and “Don Returns”. Two good looking strangers from India meet each other in Corsica, France. They promise to not reveal their identity or anything about their lives, that they wouldn’t try to chase the other once they’re back in India. The man assumes the name “Don”, after the fictional character played by Amitabh Bachchan in the ’70s. The woman takes off after another popular character from the same era, and calls herself “Mona Darling”. They talk in pop references and chirp on without the possibility of any future between them.

The woman remains to be infatuated with the man, even years after they’ve gone their different ways. She traces him down to his usual bar and introduces herself as Tara (Deepika Padukone) and gets to know his actual name, Ved (Ranbir Kapoor). This man, is quite unlike the Don in Corsica, Tara observes. He looks at the watch every time he leaves her house, yes-mans his way to a successful job, isn’t very interesting at all. He’s almost robotic. Uses the electric toothbrush, washes his car, knots his tie, all in clockwork fashion. None of it is exactly a bad thing per se, it’s just he’s never himself, or as Tara puts it, “Tum koi aur ho“, that he isn’t what he shows.

Tara’s disillusionment with Ved’s changed demeanor triggers the “Don” in him. He lashes out in spurts, going back to his showy, loud and “fun” ways, in the middle of corporate presentations. He gets reprimanded by his boss (Vivek Mushran) and teeters on the verge of losing his job. He doesn’t know what to do.

There’s a whole lotta ‘he’ doing a lot of running and panting after a wedge is driven between her and him. He’s set on a course of self-discovery and self-realization, where interestingly the romantic partner doesn’t feature in extensive long montages. It’s all about him. It isn’t even love for someone else that drives him. That is what differentiates this film from Imtiaz Ali’s other films. Ved is striving to break free from his own partly self-imposed mediocrity. He doesn’t blame anyone, how a younger Ved could have. Perhaps his father, or the society or his entire family. This older Ved doesn’t. He understands that his packaging as a manufactured sales manager has as much to do with himself as well.

The level of acceptance for this man’s antics could depend on your threshold for man-child like behaviour, yet in one of those moments, his conversation with a rickshaw driver (Istiyak Khan) occurs. The whole sequence is simply magical. As a matter of fact, there aren’t many ensemble characters here, just like other Ali films, but Vivek Mushran as the grammatically incorrect boss and Istiyak Khan as the surrendered rickshaw driver pull as much traction as they can with their pitch perfect performances.

Tamasha struggles to keep the balance intact between being a commercial venture and a self-indulgent story. There are songs thrust, just to infuse “life” in the events for the casual viewer. Probably, even to change the flow of the film at a whim. There are exuberant innovative cuts to stories that Ved relates his life situations with, and then there are times when the film obnoxiously gets meta or maybe deliberately dumbs down the proceedings to flash “flashback” in a FLASHBACK sequence.

Deepika Padukone’s natural charisma is ever-so-omnipresent and her chemistry with Kapoor is formidable, yet never fully utilized to extract the pulp out of it. Ranbir Kapoor has the film thrown into his kitty, which he catches quite easily. It’s too much of the same old characterization for him to work his socks off. He mimics Dev Anand very well too, and that is a revelation. His character is hard to emphasize with right until the third act of the film, which doesn’t work in the film’s favor. But hey, who’d wanna see a “whiny, crying loser” for two-thirds of the film?

Flashes of brilliance are aplenty and A.R. Rahman’s compositions are affluent in their short and diverse range. They get Alka Yagnik and Sukhvinder Singh to sing perfectly timed relevant songs! The track with Piyush Mishra as the old storyteller deserves a special mention for itself. You have to watch the film for that.

You could be someone who’s living someone else’s story and waiting for a storyteller to tell you the outcome of your own life’s story, or you could simply write one for yourself. Tamasha could not be a very easy film to like, but it’s got so much to give, packed in its runtime of 155 minutes, it’s not fair to call this a poor film.

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

Not Exactly a Highway Review

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Highway
Release date: February 21, 2014
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda

This isn’t an outright review of Highway. Then why have I started this post just like a review? Because that’s how I wanted it to be. In this absurd sabbatical of sorts, I’ve seen Hasee Toh Phasee and Gunday. HTP was an incredibly enjoyable film and Parineeti Chopra surely showed off all her talents. Then Gunday had so much promise even for a slambang masala entertainer, but it didn’t live up to it.

Why am I writing about other films in a post about Highway? Just to let my all-so-important opinions stay etched here, if either of those two films gets featured on the Best100 or Worst100.

Imtiaz Ali’s films, except for Jab We Met, have left me disappointed. I always witness a graph, a potential for greatness, but the eventual mishmash of umpteen ingredients has left me slighted every time. Entering the cinema hall for Highway had me on the fringe already, I wasn’t expecting a completely perfect film at all.

So Highway starts off with footage from a personal wedding videotape, Veera (Alia Bhatt) is about to get married. From one influential family to the other, that’s how she feels about her marriage. She asks her fiance to take her out for a secret drive. She wants to breathe in the country. During their ride back home, at a petrol pump, she ends up getting tagged along with [kidnapped by] Mahabeer Bhati (Randeep Hooda) and his gang.

Mahabeer has unknowingly picked her up. Like a true Jat (or more like an internetphile defending all his self-righteous views), he defends his mistake. His first mark is that of a hardened criminal who is remorseless and unflinching in even firing a bullet just to make a point. Mahabeer and Veera are different like chalk and cheese. But even chalk and cheese are connected by a thin lineage of calcium and its compounds. Calcium here is a central theme of trauma.

Highway uses the Stockholm Syndrome gimmick only to an extent. There is a reciprocation of those feelings by the captor here. Alia’s character is given the Manic Pixie Dream Girl treatment initially, but thankfully her character shows some purpose and a sense of importance eventually. I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of any song-dance numbers in the first half of the film. Running just about an hour, the before-interval is extremely taut.

Veera’s confession of her demons and fears didn’t evoke the expected emotions from me, as she keeps doing shocking 180 degree turns, coming off as unstable and unsettled. Which was then resolved by the scene where she says to him, “Jahaan se tum mujhe laaye ho main wahaan vaapas nahin jaanaa chaahti. Jahaan bhi le jaa rahe ho wahaan pahunchna nahi chaahti. Par ye raasta, ye bahut achcha hai, main chaahti hun ki ye raasta kabhi khatam na ho.” –this was the point where she emits clarity. From this point onward, it was all Alia for me.

A common complaint that I have with almost 90 per cent of love stories in cinema, to which Silver Linings Playbook is a rare exception, is that the said love between the characters isn’t allowed to flourish, nurture or grow. And I noticed this complaint being raised against Highway as well, to which I strongly disagree. The latent attraction here between the protagonists isn’t physical, it doesn’t harbor on sex slavery, it’s just simple. Simply human. Veera talks to Mahabeer like no one else ever has. No matter how disturbing it may be for him, it captivates him nonetheless.

The use of montages to create a backstory or sympathy at times comes off jarring at first, but the final one, with Veera and Mahabeer’s pasts striding down the hills together is purely moving. The visual imagery of the Himalayas, the barren deserts, and the infinite roads is awe-inspiring, Anil Mehta finely captures them along with Randeep’s scruffy appearance and Alia’s complexity.

For me, what matters more in a film is its ability to make you weep/wail or even just feel a lump in your throat than its ability to make you smile. Unquestionably, making viewers laugh is a Herculean task in itself, and making them cry might even be easier owing to their lowered inhibitions in the darkness of a cinema hall. Highway did both the things for me. Even in a moment where you’re supposed to cry, you won’t help smiling (re: final shot of the film). Again, this wasn’t purely a review. Don’t piss on me if I’ve divulged any vital plot points inadvertently.

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

Cocktail


Cocktail
Release date: July 13, 2012
Directed by: Homi Adajania
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Saif Ali Khan, Boman Irani, Dimple Kapadia

The film is set in London, and we do get the stereotypical wide shots of the city that help us to know, nothing. Sorry. But the long shots and extensive coverage of the picturesque landscapes and swish streets get a tad too imposing. Yes, they so first-world and we so third-world.

For the plot: Meera (Diana Penty) is our grief-struck damsel stuck in a foreign land with nowhere to go. Veronica (Deepika Padukone) lives alone in an expensive row house with endless nights of partying and more partying. She’s a photographer by profession, but all her demands are met by her invisible parents. Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) is approaching his thirties with no stable relationship around him. He likes to get laid, easily. Meera and Veronica are poles apart, in every parameter that counts. Yet, Veronica befriends Meera and tries getting her into the party loop.

And mind you, Veronica always gets by the bouncers at the local nightclub & all the patrons know her! Yay! Alright, that is a bit cliche. She dances her ass off while everyone cheers for her and two party numbers go by. Gautam, who had tried his ‘charm’ over Meera right at their first incidental meeting now gets served by Veronica and soon they are an item. They even share a toothbrush. How cute. Boman Irani plays Randhir, Gautam’s uncle and calls himself his guardian when his sister Kavita (Dimple Kapadia) calls him to coax Gautam to get married.

Soon things start mixing up when Kavita shows up at Veronica’s house where Gautam is swaying wildly to Sheela Ki Jawaani and is heavily cross-dressed. Meera pretends that she is Gautam’s fiance and Kavita takes an instant liking to her coy and sweet future daughter-in-law. They go on a vacation and hormones start to run haywire. Gautam and Meera get close and realize that they are in love. Meera tries to suppress her feelings and Veronica also realizes her feelings for Gautam. Love triangle commences.

The three protagonists go through longing and a throbbing pain in the absence of their crossed-up lovers. Veronica ends up on a self-destructive path, while Meera tries running away and Gautam is stuck between the two. The film’s first ‘artistic’ or emoting sequence shows up in the form of a lash-out by Veronica at Meera in an inebriated state. The second half of the film tries making more sense than the first, actually making some sense.

Things get completely sorted out over the course of two sad songs playing in the background. Disappointing. But the overall product doesn’t bear a stale stench, thus keeping it fresh and somewhat touching. We’ve seen better romcoms & we’ll see more (hopefully) but this one isn’t too bad either.

Cocktail proves to be entertaining and enjoyable while it lasts. You won’t regret going to this movie even if you aren’t a mushy romantic film-buff.

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

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