Posts Tagged ‘ Irrfan Khan ’

Madaari

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Madaari
Release date: July 22, 2016
Directed by: Nishikant Kamat
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Vishesh Bansal, Jimmy Shergill, Tushar Dalvi, Nitesh Pandey

In a world filled with corruption, and its consequences on the creatures inhabiting it; Nirmal Kumar (Irrfan Khan) decides to ask the questions which no one can or hasn’t bothered asking yet. The incident which stemmed a major plot point of the film was a sad one, and yet it passed by unnoticeably. A slab of the then under construction Mumbai metro bridge had collapsed and caused the death of at least one immigrant site worker.

Home minister Prashant Goswami (Tushar Dalvi) finds that his son Rohan (Vishesh Bansal) is kidnapped from his boarding school in Dehradun. With no direct clues to give away any answers, he hires Nachiket Verma (Jimmy Shergill) to solve the case. Nachiket decides that the whole operation should be carried out in a covert manner, so that the general public wouldn’t feel unsafe and uphold the sanctity of the government by not letting the news out to the TV audiences.

Nirmal is a mystical figure for a long part, often slipping in and out of costumes to keep up with his act of vigilantism. More details about his origins are carefully strewn around the screenplay to build up a sympathetic backstory for him. He wishes to bring the system to answer the questions which often remain unanswered.

Much like the film’s poster, Irrfan Khan towers above the rest of the film’s cast and other departments. He overshadows the campy background score, the caricaturish depiction of politicians, the tiredness induced by the tardy pace of the film towards the last act and an apparent overall substandard production value. He refuses to revel in a Hollywood afterglow, unlike quite a few other compatriots who fail to ground themselves back to the Indian-ness of their characters in Hindi films after tasting the Californian waters.

Jimmy Shergill is a dependable hand as the narrowly confusing top cop Nachiket. He becomes sidelined when the film ceases to be a cat-and-mouse chase between the two sides of the fence in the post interval half. The abductee Rohan, played Vishesh Bansal is a very (generally) savvy seven year old, who is, like many other kids of the same age, well aware of things beyond his years. It’s charming to see that certain amount of smart alecky display, but grating when he talks of Stockholm Syndrome, only to break the fourth wall in an implicit way to make the viewers feel, “Yeah, hey, look! Shades of Stockholm! The kid said it himself!”

With his very diverse film repertoire, Nishikant Kamat’s attempt at a desi V for Vendetta, sans the Guy Fawkes masks and a deep politically philosophical commentary, is an entertaining watch but not without its flaws. Who needs a mask when you’ve got Irrfan in such fine form though?

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

Talvar

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Talvar
Release date: October 2, 2015
Directed by: Meghna Gulzar
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sensharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Shishir Sharma, Prakash Belawadi, Gajraj Rao, Tabu, Atul Kumar, Sumit Gulati

In the summer of 2008, a juggernaut hit the Indian TV waves. It was the Indian Premier League (IPL) and as one of the many theories suggested, the domestic helps in the Arushi-Hemraj double murders were bonding over a cricket match, on the night the mysterious killings took place. There was another theory which suggested that Arushi wanted to get back at her parents for something real bad. All of these theories, some debunked, some not, were polar opposites of the other.

The selection of the right theory is perhaps the part where a case is said to be solved. That selection is corroborated with some testimonies, and/or material evidence. Some cases are “easy” to crack, either by force or by a criminal confession. When proven right, the entire process is a treat to watch at the cinema halls and a great read in the papers. When the investigation goes awry, it’s a disturbing fact to consume that someone innocent could be punished for someone else’s transgressions, or “justice will be denied” forever.

Names of the characters are tweaked by a letter or two, and Talvar takes an outsider view at the whole murder mystery. There are several vantage points, and none from the inside. There’s the Kanhaiya (Krishna in the actual story, played by Sumit Gulati) angle, then there’s the local police’s bumbling perspective, ‘CDI’ investigator Ashwin Kumar (Arun Kumar from CBI, enacted by Irrfan Khan) piecing together the puzzle with his own story, and the chaste Hindi speaking CDI officer Paul (Atul Kumar).

Every perspective plays out in Rashomon fashion, always adding layers to what’s known to the world. Every time the story is retold, the order of events is changed, the agenda is changed, and even the killer. The film does take a stand, after making its point in an eight minute long debate between the two separate teams of investigators; both of them biased towards their own findings and prejudiced towards the other’s methods and observations. The stellar performances of all the cast members keep the proceedings engaging, even with the grim content at hand.

The state of affairs is only alleviated, with Vishal Bharadwaj at the helm of the writing department. In the midst of horrid allegations and depictions, there are sardonic lines from our lives that lighten the tone of events. Gajraj Rao, Sumit Gulati and Atul Kumar are vital bit players that hold the film well with their respective performances. Khan is at the center of the film, not just in terms of current star power, but also in terms of his character’s positioning. He’s shown to be the beacon of light, no matter how realistically fallible.

Ship of Theseus actors Neeraj Kabi as Ramesh and Sohum Shah as Ashwin Kumar’s junior have their hands full and they deliver well. Konkona Sensharma blends in with every shade that is given to her character, in the way of different ‘flashbacks’.

Talvar reiterates symbolically, that solving crime is just another job for some. At the same time, it’s a job with an inevitable but disallowed margin of error. How an actual murder mystery unveils in ‘real life’. Definitely not like an episode from Sherlock. 

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

Piku

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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)

Haider

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Haider
Release date: October 2, 2014
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Tabu, Narendra Jha, Shahid Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Aamir Bashir, Lalit Parimoo, Sumit Kaul, Rajat Bhagat, Irrfan Khan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Before you proceed to read this review, and try to form your opinion about the film, I’d like to give you three strong reasons to just get off your seat and go watch Haider. Except you’re in the theater waiting for the film to start.

“Inteqaam sirf inteqaam laataa hai, aazaadi nahin.”

“Jhuk ke jab jhumka main choom raha tha
Der tak gulmohar jhoom raha tha…”

“Chota na bada
Koi lamba hai na bona hai
Kabar ke dadab mein lambi neend so na hai”

If these three pieces of literary genius don’t propel you into the stratosphere of Haider, you should read on.

In a land struck with insurgency, and forceful counter-insurgency measures by the army, heavily under surveillance throughout all times, Vishal Bhardwaj replaces the conflicted land of Denmark with an equally conflicted region of Kashmir in his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Haider could have simply been the story of the title character’s revenge against his Uncle Claudius from the play, i.e. Khurram (Kay Kay Menon) avenging the death of his father Dr. Hilal Meer (Narendra Jha); but it isn’t just that. Bhardwaj and his co-writer Basharat Peer choose to play up Hamlet’s mother Gertrude’s undecided nature about the men in her life, be it her son or her husband or her brother-in-law. Gertrude is called Ghazala in this universe and she’s vital right till the end.

Haider-Ghazala

Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor) is the hijab wearing lover of Haider, her brother (Aamir Bashir) much like Laertes from the play has traveled to another town for his studies after initially opposing strongly to Arshia’s affections for Haider. Interspersed with the Kashmeeri accent, every actor brings a certain earthy charm to the characters they are playing. Arshia dancing with gay abandon in Haider’s clothes is one of those moments which brings that earthy charm with a hip touch.

Haider’s ‘antic disposition’  starts off with the rattling of the provisions and powers of the Kashmir Pact from 1948, the Geneva Agreement succeeding that and the final nail in Kashmir’s coffin, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Section 370 of the Indian Constitution. Shahid Kapoor picks up the intensity of a fire-breathing dragon and never cowers down hence that moment. He picks up the bottled, and timid Haider and transforms into this all-knowing mad man. The faces that he makes, mixed in a potent combination of naive innocence and sheer viciousness when the moment asks.

Providing an emphatic social commentary on the state of affairs in the region, Haider is beautifully poetic in its dialogues, photography and song picturizations. Be it the melancholic Jhelum which sings of the blood soaked and the screams muffled by the river Jhelum, or Arijit Singh’s most soulful composition of this year ‘Khul Kabhi To’ in a Casablanca-ish setting, or the explosive puppet dance drama in Bismil, I have never enjoyed the traditional Hindi song-and-dance routine as much, ever before.

Khul kabhi toh...

Pankaj Kumar photographs Haider with a broadly extensive repertoire of angles. My personal favorites again coming from the continuous tracking of the camera during Shahid’s storytelling in Bismil, the shades and shots used to create a certain unease between Ghazala and her son, and also Arshi’s dementia. The red scarf, the red hood and the red knitting cloth are so eerie, you don’t need a vivid emotion to tell you what happens next.

How well is Bismil shot!

Bhardwaj retains the individual traits of the characters from Hamlet, yet refusing to dwell on a very far-flung climax sequence, and even the murders with said poisons that curdle a man’s blood, he utilizes the real-time scenario of his Hamlet’s geography. Shakespeare is present in spirit, with a constant Hindi rendition of “To be or not to be” which Haider refers to question the existence of the being. The background score plays the theme from Aao Na and is so tantalizing that you simply want the song to start playing with THAT powerful entry of Khan.

The film employs the services of many actors, some in bits and some in chunks, Kay Kay Menon and Shraddha Kapoor embody Khurram and Arshi to a fault, while Shahid and Tabu own their characters by customizing them. The film in its entirety is a surreal depiction of a revenge-drama which could possibly eclipse all of Bhardwaj’s earlier adaptations and creations. Haider is a telling story with political undertones, and a film that is perhaps the most bold and vivid attempt at integrating the gloom of Kashmir with that of a character as conflicted about his rage as the people of that region about their identities and the collective concept of mainstream nationalism.

Witty, smart, poetic, scenic, passionate, and relevant, I can embellish this piece with more adjectives for Haider all day long.

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

The Lunchbox

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The Lunchbox
Release date: September 20, 2013
Directed by: Ritesh Batra
Cast: Nimrat Kaur, Irrfan Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bharati Achrekar, Denzil Smith, Nakul Vaid, Lillete Dubey, Yashvi Puneet Nagar

Delectably assorted tiers of steel boxes, make their way from the homely kitchens to the hustling offices and other workplaces, with the dabbawalas playing the role of the messenger–a regular urban activity, is picked up by Ritesh Batra and he gives vivid roles to all the three parties involved. Where the dabbawala is the inadvertent cupid (in denial) between an unlikely couple.

Ila (Nimrat Kaur) is a modern housewife, in need of validation from her husband Rajiv (Nakul Vaid) She gets the wanted and unwanted advice from the Deshpande Aunty (Bharati Achrekar’s voice) be it cooking or listening to endless cassettes from the 80s and 90s, they do it all together. In a bid to win Rajiv all over again, Ila cooks the most scrumptious meal she has ever cooked yet.

On the other end of the spectrum, rather the receiving end, is Fernandes (Irrfan Khan) a bank employee working for the claims department for the past 35 years, and is about to retire in a month. He’s a widower, who smokes and watches TV while he’s at home in the evening. He doesn’t dole out free smiles either. Two common emotions between these disconnected characters is the longing for a loved one, in the absence or even the presence of that person.

The tiffin packed with the spices and an effervescent letter becomes the ritual and what they bode on are the general changes in Bombay, their personal habits, their fancies. All of it, without seeing each other through the entire film. The actors deliver perfect emotions that resemble intimate moments, even in isolation. Siddiqui plays the enigmatic yet annoying newbie at the bank, Aslam. He keeps pushing Fernandes to the limit only to catch him off guard enjoying his tiffin.

However, as perfect this film appears, I was baffled at the subsided treatment given to the fringe characters, like the co-employees at the bank, thus adding to inconsistencies with Fernandes’s character (with respect to what Aslam says he’s heard from the other guys at the bank). There’s a certain feeling of holding back, the cards seem just a bit too close to the chest. Perhaps more of these flaws get masked by Khan’s crowning realistic acting, Kaur’s timed insecure expression and the sheer delight of receiving yet another letter. If there’s a film about Bombay’s current face and its constant battle with overcoming nostalgia, it cannot be better than The Lunchbox.

Ritesh Batra’s transitions are simplistically captivating. He takes the usual and turns it into fitting devices for the screenplay to forward. Shot on real locations with camerawork that resembles the same innocuous stolen glances which the characters share with the letters exchanged through the lunchbox, Michael Simmonds is impish as he delves into the character’s camaraderie with the same fringe characters, thus making them inclusive again.

I don’t know about Oscar selections or National Awards, but The Lunchbox is as close as a film can get to your heart, even if no one uses a mobile phone in the entire film. It’s just food, Bombay and the memories here.

My rating: **** (4 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)

Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns

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Saheb Biwi aur Gangster Returns
Release date: March 8, 2013
Directed by: Tigmanshu Dhulia
Cast: Jimmy Shergill, Mahie Gill, Irrfan Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Raj Babbar, Sitaram Panchal, Pravesh Rana, Deepraj Rana, Rajesh Khera, Rajeev Gupta

Saheb Biwi aur Gangster, the prequel was charming, arousing and scintillating. The task of maintaining the earlier film’s integrity and matching up to its levels was real tough, but there are many loopholes and cover-ups in this sequel.

Continuing from the first film, Sahib (Jimmy Shergill) has survived, but is paralyzed and wheelchair-ridden. Even with a handicap, his influence or rather mean imposing nature hasn’t diminished. With his wife, Biwi (Mahie Gill) serving political office, he decides to marry Ranjana (Soha Ali Khan) forcibly. Ranjana is another former king, Birendra Pratap’s (Raj Babbar) daughter. Pratap is promised other royal gains in return for a hushed engagement ceremony between his daughter and Sahib.

Inderjeet Singh, the Gangster (Irrfan Khan) gets involved in the plot as Ranjana’s lover and goes on to become a part of the larger plan. With romantic allegiances forming and crumbling, it is the same powerplay of Sahib Biwi aur Gangster that eventually takes the center stage. The writers devise contemporary topics into the narrative, like a localized version of Anna Hazare’s fast or the actual proposal of dividing the state of Uttar Pradesh in 4 smaller states.

The smart deployment of politicized gimmicks along with witty and the much sought after impactful lines provide the foil for the faults in the repetitive double crosses and lack of depth to one of the film’s major players, i.e. Mahie Gill’s character. She’s incredibly sexy but lacks the punch. The individual performances also try compensating for the mentioned drawbacks, wherein Irrfan and Shergill stand out.

Out of the repeated ensemble cast, Rajeev Gupta’s dumb minister is perhaps the best. And this is how the film sets up, there are exclusive flashes of brilliance but they never translate into a collective display of overall excellence. Sahib Biwi aur Gangster Returns’ valleys leave you tepid and drowned out even with its constant peaks.

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

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