Posts Tagged ‘ Kalki Koechlin ’

Margarita With A Straw


Margarita With A Straw
Release date: April 17, 2015
Directed by: Nilesh Maniyar, Shonali Bose
Cast: Revathy, Kuljeet Singh, Kalki Koechlin, Sayani Gupta, Hussain Dalal, Malhar Khushu, Tenzin Dalha

In a Hindi film universe, where the concept of female sexuality is mostly untouched upon, the makers of Margarita With A Straw present a tale of a physically disabled young woman wresting her sexuality from everyone around her. The free world, that cannot sanely comprehend a woman’s sexuality, now gets to witness a handicapped woman’s sexual dilemmas, and forcibly gets to gulp the uncomfortable lump of truth down its metaphorical throat.

Right on from the first few minutes, the theme of the film starts developing, forsaking the first act of the traditional three act structure. The directors jump straight to what they want to show you, and they don’t sugarcoat it overtly or try to ease it in and slip it somewhere along softly. Laila (Kalki Koechlin) is a young girl who’s fit in with the “normal” kids at a “regular” college even with her Cerebral Palsy. She has a wheelchair-bound friend Dhruv (Hussain Dalal) at the same college who she has known for 450 years, as Dhruv puts it in one scene. She has other physically able friends who don’t patronize her as well.

She has a slur in her speech and a walking disability as a result of her Cerebral Palsy, she writes lyrics for her college band and just like any other “normal” kid, slacks off on the job while lurking on her crush’s Facebook profile. She cries at her first romantic rejection. She doesn’t wanna face the world after her desired lover refuses her advances. Just like any other seemingly normal kid.

Notice how I keep ending almost all my descriptions about Laila with a “Just like any other ‘normal’ kid”? That is exactly the basic struggle of every disabled person’s life. To be treated normally and just with a little care, as Rustom Irani’s recent articles suggested in Mumbai Mirror. We get to witness the same everyday challenges of a wheelchair-bound Laila.

As every disabled person requires some assistance, Laila’s mother wears the additional hat of being her caregiver, helping her bathe, change clothes and carry out her basic routine comfortably. And as many Indian parents can’t understand the idea of privacy, that problem is further heightened here, as being her caregiver, Laila’s mother cannot bring herself to accepting certain barriers with respect to Laila’s sexuality and love life.

The conflict of the story is this simple and yet, so firmly ingrained with the characters’ lives. Thus, this is a thoroughly character-driven film and heavily benefits from the amazing performances of all its cast. Revathy as Laila’s protective and extremely affable mother shines through like a warm, and embracing ray of sunlight. The strong mother is shouldered by an equally charming Kuljeet Singh as Laila’s father. Sayani Gupta, particularly strikes a great presence as the blind activist girlfriend Khanum. She radiates a natural sensuality which brings about a metamorphosis in Laila, and will titillate something in you as well.

Lastly, it is a Kalki Koechlin film here. Present in about every scene, she renders a greatly credible performance in this mammoth of a role. She laughs at the silliest of things some times, and yet it never seems deliberated. Laila is vulnerable, and Laila is strong. Laila’s confused and she’s just trying to find her space. Kalki makes herself irreplaceable with this spirited portrayal.

If you walk in to Margarita With A Straw expecting an inspiring tale of human success where Laila transcends physical barriers of disability, her professional endeavors aren’t a major part of the case-study here, and justifiably so as the film covers a small timeline of events in her life. More than biographical, it’s beautiful slice of life cinema served with a quirky straw.

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

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Release date: May 31, 2013
Directed by: Ayan Mukherji
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin, Dolly Ahluwalia, Aditya Roy Kapur, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Evelyn Sharma, Poorna Jagannathan, Faarooq Shaikh, Tanvi Azmi

A romcom about four youngsters transcending mountains, weddings and lavish costumes is what Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani appears to be from the outside. And that’s what it pretty much is.

Bunny/Kabir Thapad (Ranbir Kapoor) wants to be a globetrotter, while his friends: Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) and Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur) don’t have a set goal except for livin’ it up. On a chance meeting with the vagrantish Aditi, Naina (Deepika Padukone) who is an eternal nerd realizes what she’s been missing out on. She joins them on a trek to Manali and tries to fit in with the rambunctious trio.

And as normal people with normal hormones, there’s an attraction between the characters here as well. Only they are lopsided. Bunny decides to take a major step towards fulfilling his dreams and moves out for further studies. How all of them change and if they can reconnect after a period of eight years form the remaining tale.

The writers aim to accomplish quite a few stories here, as it always is with films with such number of leading characters. Bunny’s non-conformance to a regular lifestyle, Aditi’s suppressed feelings and her subsequent transformation, Avi’s refusal to accept his old friend, and Naina’s need to enjoy the smaller joys of life. The film’s pace is indulgent and perhaps dampening to its mood.

Ranbir and Kalki are in fine form, except for her jarred introduction. Even the smaller roles, like that of Kunaal Roy Kapur as the bumbling Taran and Faarooq Shaikh as Bunny’s father add to the narrative. Special mention for Deepika Padukone who simply looks, walks and moves like a cliche million bucks. I couldn’t comprehend for a few hours if I could ever complete this review without getting an anxiety attack while reconstructing her scenes and songs. Oh yes, the songs! They are aplenty and baffling given their length. Albeit colorful and entertaining, the dance numbers’ presence in such a capacity cannot be justified.

Also all of  Ranbir’s scenes have a ‘grand introductory scene’ like feel to them. Maybe not all of them, but a lot of them. The lines are witty and liberally funny. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is shot beautifully, it lacks that finish which would have made it a more complete experience. I am not saying YJHD is not enjoyable and fun, it’s just that it could have been *that* bit better.

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

P.S. Evelyn Sharma’s unabashed hotness.
P.P.S. The P.S. deserves to be in this review goddammit!

EK Thi Daayan

Ek Thi Daayan Movie Poster
Ek Thi Daayan
Release date: April 15, 2013
Directed by: Kannan Iyer
Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Konkona Sen Sharma, Huma Qureshi, Kalki Koechlin, Pavan Malhotra, Visshesh Tiwari

Kannan Iyer’s directorial debut is a film that obviously deals with a Daayan (witch) what remains to be seen is how he uses the age old gimmick in a modern setting. Ek Thi Daayan is indeed based around a contemporary background.

Bejoy Mathur (Emraan Hashmi) is an accomplished magician under the stage name of Bobo The Baffler. He baffles his audience with his tricks and plays, while he continues to be baffled by events in his personal life. Baffler, baffled. Let the chuckles flow, maybe? There are flashes from his childhood and he can’t help zoning out. He seeks professional help and gives us an entire retelling of events from the eleven year old Bobo’s point of view.

The younger Bobo – played out by Visshesh Tiwari, gives us an account over his fascination for the dark world of ghosts, his belief in the philosophy of a local hell for every building where the troublesome oldies who object to children playing and sleepy guards reside. Cute and eerie at the same time. He addresses his issues with his governess Diana (Konkona Sen Sharma) by objectifying her as a Daayan.

The consultant points out that all of what bad he attributes to Diana could possibly be his hatred for a “stepmom” taking over and this is where a small doubt is created in your mind if Bobo is actually stable. Running perfectly until here, it captures the obvious ludicrousness of the plot consciously by inducing humor at various points. Huma Qureshi’s portrayal of Tamara, Bobo’s fiancee is fine by me and there’s not much ham-and-cheese by any of the actors. Konkona is the right muse that contains her character’s mystique.

The younger Bobo and his older counterpart are visually different, yet fitting in their emotional depictions. Kalki with her ‘obsessed fan’ persona puts up right amount of crazy. All problems with the much subtle horror approach spring up when the grand finale ensues, a fight between relatively unrealistic jumps and falls. Again, it’s all got to do with your suspension of disbelief but compared to the sophisticated handling of the topic until the climax, it might make you feel disconnected with a strongly supernatural flavor to it.

Ek Thi Daayan gives you the chills and also doesn’t put you off with a loud background score. It does go down the same beaten path of spirits and black magic rituals, but there’s a story with nuanced undertones. Simply put, it’s watchable and entertaining.

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


Release Date: June 8, 2012
Directed by: Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Emraan Hashmi, Farooq Shaikh, Pitobash, Prasenjit Chatterjee, Tillotama Shome

Before I start this, as the film progressed in the second half, I heard a few carcasses mumble, “Kabhi experiment nahi karunga next time. Masala film hi dekhni chahiye thi.” (I shouldn’t walk in to serious films that revolve around a certain plot. I should have gone in for some song-dance rubbish.)
A minute later, one of them finally said, “Isse acha to Rowdy Rathore dekhne jaate the.” (We should have rather gone for Rowdy Rathore) That’s where I loudly grunted “Oh Bhenchod!” Five minutes later, everyone starts clapping at a line from the film. Vindication perhaps.

Let’s start rolling now. For a change, we see our frontal characters driven by a certain reason for what they do in this film. May it be personal vendetta, lust, love or simply anger. Shanghai goes on to show how actually how all of us become a part of a bandwagon, unknowingly, that could possibly steer into a dark abyss. The tone of the film remains subtle, right from the background score to the performances put in by the protagonists.

The editing is as crisp as a Sada Dosa. The characters’ self-reflective moments aren’t strapped with a thick voice-over, instead, there are pauses. The defining seconds that Shalini Sahay (Kalki) uses to think upon the foreseen deterioration of circumstances, or that small moment where T.A. Krishnan (Abhay Deol) goes back in his seat to take the morally right way or the idyllic path, this is how Shanghai works. Jogi Parmar (Emraan Hashmi) has perhaps one of the most layered and complex persona. You see him  dancing, videotaping and running. All with a blitzkrieg of ragingly different emotions.

Dibakar Banerjee assorts pieces of his script and puts together a boiling exclamation point, that could be deciphered as a question mark as well. The modern political debauchery is handled with the utmost irrelevance that it deserves. Nikos Andritsakis’s camera work and Namrata Rao’s editing get the hat-tips along with Abhay Deol’s perfect depiction of a South Indian. Again, he doesn’t go overboard, but he gets every detail right.

No bottom lines here, Shanghai is the winner.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5) 

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