Posts Tagged ‘ Katrina Kaif ’

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)

Fitoor

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Fitoor
Release date: February 12, 2016
Directed by: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Mohammed Abrar, RayesMohi Ud Din, Khalida Jaan, Tunisha Sharma, Kunal Khyaan, Lara Dutta, Talat Aziz, Rahul Bhat, Ajaz Rah, Aditi Rao Hyderi, Akshay Oberoi

Charles Dickens’s novel, Great Expectations, has been billed as a coming of age story where young adults were made to respect pacts and trained in “gentlemanly arts”; the protagonist is taught to overcome the class differences of being a lower class citizen and eventually acquire the love of a wealthy eccentric spinster’s daughter. Not a lot of it would make sense in the year 2016, and Abhishek Kapoor and Supratik Sen adapt their screenplay from the book so as to suit our times.

A young Noor (Mohammed Abrar) is good at fine arts and never seems to go to school. His older sister (Khalida Jaan) urges him to work along with her husband. Begum Hazrat (Tabu) stays in her affluent, but doomed mansion, with her young daughter Firdaus (Tunisha Sharma); Noor becomes besotted with the girl, but is warmed of the probable consequences of ‘losing his heart’ to her by none other than Firdaus’s mother. Hazrat shows bipolar tendencies wherein she encourages Noor to pursue his interests and even enjoy the company of her daughter, and at the same time she continuously cautions him against getting too close to her.

The film follows Noor’s boyhood with patience and some detail. The wide-eyed boy soon turns into a hulked-up, disturbingly chiseled artist who still works with his brother in law in Kashmir. Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) is still infatuated with Firdaus and learns that she’s been in England for years and that she’ll be returning to Delhi in a few days. An anonymous benefactor finds Noor to be worthy of an all expense paid residency program in Delhi. Firdaus (Katrina Kaif) has grown to have dazzling red hair, just like her mother, and is engaged to a Pakistani politician, Bilal (Rahul Bhat). She says that things have changed and they’ve grown up, Noor is just a friend for her now.

We all know it isn’t that simple, because, hey, it’s a film for heaven’s sake. Noor relentlessly pursues her and there are complications and Firdaus is confused, and also manipulated by her mother. The plot gets muddier and many more popular faces start dropping in into the film. The story steers away from the boy-girl drama, and steers toward the India-Pakistan tensions, Hazrat’s extensive backstory and the unraveling of her psyche. Kapur and Kaif’s ‘chemistry’ is more of a sum of individual parts than a collective output. They have limited screen time together, and they both manage to look ‘different’ for their parts, hence bringing a certain element of sizzle naturally. Also, Noor never struggles with the stylized city life of Delhi, not even with his English, given that he never seems to have gone to an actual school, ever.

Amit Trivedi’s wondrous soundtrack is almost exhausted in the first half of the film, so they can get to the heavier end of the screenplay. Right until the halfway mark, things are pretty dry and straight, even the point of intermission lacked to create any real sense of anxiety in me. The proceedings remain promising and extremely enchanting with Anay Goswamy’s cinematography though, as you hope on for something to break the simmering stagnation.

Fitoor plays around well with its drama when it goes the whole nine yards, i.e. going back to showing the origins of Hazrat’s bipolar personality and immersing the viewer into the deep dark secrets of the Dickensian universe. It feels a little late at times, as the universe isn’t quite Dickensian, and love affair between Noor and Firdaus never quite reaches the titular emotion of the film, obsession. Tabu throws her usual masterclass of a performance to support the lead pair, so much so that they could have had her in the poster for the film just by herself.

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Wait, there is one poster of just her.

With all the ingredients for a surefire technically sound magnum opus, Fitoor doesn’t quite run its engines on all cylinders. The film’s storytelling is patient and paced at a haunting speed, only for the payoff to be a sudden momentary stroke of self-realization in one of the protagonists.

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

Phantom

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Phantom
Release date: August 28, 2015
Directed by: Kabir Khan
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Sabyasachi Chakrabarty, Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Katrina Kaif

Phantom, as a film, could have been categorized as a political thriller, instead it has tricks rolled up its sleeve to make it look more like a con film. Right from the start, it shows us a drawn-out action sequence with two cars and their respective drivers accelerating and ramming their cars into each others’. The sequence, filled with fast action and a cool slow-motion fall off a bridge in Chicago, is just that. The audience isn’t even involved in the film yet, but it’s a cool hook.

The cool hook then propels the story in a flashback to the origins of Daniyal Khan (Saif Ali Khan), a former member of the Indian armed forces. A young rookie, at the Indian intelligence agency RAW, proposes the idea of sending a suicide mission man to Pakistan to wipe out Hafiz Saeed, David Coleman Headley and a few more perpetrators of Mumbai’s 26/11, just how the mighty Americans did in 2011. Except, this isn’t a SEAL team dropping in from a chopper.

Optimism is not a bad concept, unless you force a hundred contrivances and co-incidences. Then it’s just a manufactured copy of how a child’s perception of optimism is; naive and too idealistic. Since the film belongs to the pseudo-thriller genre, it indulges in numerous cheap thrill scenes. Picture this, guy ‘A’ is taking a swig of a drink he’s not supposed to. There’s no one at home and no one in a mile near him because he’s in vacuum hole. And even then, you’ll get to see a person who can stop him, out of nowhere, appearing in the close proximity of ‘A’. Now take this approach, and visualize it at least 7 times. This is what Phantom does to desensitize you. It induces an overdose of too many cringeworthy coincidences.

What’s appreciable is that the film doesn’t always stop to explain things and slow everything down. This trend goes to the extent of focusing too less on the reasons for the characters’s actions. It deprives you of empathizing with the people on the screen, which again makes you just an outside spectator. The makers try to counter these flaws by invoking jingoistic moments, and some of them, to their credit, are subtly entertaining.

Phantom oscillates between being good and “Um, okay.” It’s an ambitious effort all round, only it falters too often.

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

Dhoom 3

The boring-ass unimaginative poster.

The boring-ass unimaginative poster.

Dhoom 3
Release date: December 20, 2013
Directed by: Vijay Krishna Acharya
Cast: Aamir Khan, Katrina Kaif, Abhishek Bachchan, Uday Chopra, Jackie Shroff, Tabrett Bethel (Is she the totally insubstantial post-colonial Victoria?)

First off, I saw Gori Tere Pyaar Mein recently and I enjoyed it quite a lot unlike many popular film reviewers. I couldn’t post a review ’cause I got a pseudo-anxiety attack after looking at my syllabus for the exam that week.

In a relentless Chicago, Sahir (Aamir Khan) is an illusionist-cum-acrobat-cum-tap dancer-cum-superb motorcycle rider. As the number of attributes attached with the presumed antagonist keep towering over his modest height, it’s safe to assume he’s the uber-cool antihero. He is Iqbal’s (played by Jackie Shroff) son. Trained and nurtured by his performer father, Sahir has a personal grudge to set right and an eternally six-pack flaunting untraceable criminal on a superbike is thus born.

The innumerable SWAT teams and Blue Mustangs are rendered powerless and “Indian Supercop” Jay Dixit (Abhishek Bachchan) is invited with his sidekick Ali (Uday Chopra) to crack the already high-profile case. Whoa! With their Tom and Jerry shenanigans, they arrive in Illinois to bless us with a very limited range of buffoonery from Uday Chopra’s character. They don’t press on their earlier hot-and-cold gags and go straight for the hunt.

The only somewhat titillating poster.

The only somewhat titillating poster.

And Aliya (Katrina Kaif) joins Sahir’s The Great Indian Circus troupe too. She isn’t exactly Sahir’s romantic interest, but there’s a little chemistry relating Sahir and Aliya which leads to a certain implication. (Hush hush!) The approach of the screenplay towards cracking the case is smart and short, the drama is entirely concentrated on Aamir’s character which is understood given that he’s the attraction of the new installment. The logic and reasoning on the Supercop’s part isn’t exactly amiss in the post-intermission half, but it’s nothing very novel.

The struggles of Sahir’s character are drawn out and are also gripping to major extents. His robberies aren’t breathtaking. He’s the ordinary exhibitionist, it’s his buildup and the payoff which are interesting. Bridging the gap with his persona of a magic performer, there’s some meaty subtext here. Heck, Aamir even carries it off conveniently. He fluctuates his separate characterizations with ease. The rest of the cast is completely secondary. The writing is as unimaginative as the film’s posters. The dialogue ranges between pretentiously philosophical to inaccurately vague.

The songs, at least two of them, appear out of place. Yet, Dhoom 3 isn’t unbearable for a bashing audience-pleaser flick. It brisks fast enough for you to not continuously stare at your watch for it to get over. The fight between good and evil is grayed and as an afterthought, there isn’t any actual punching-kicking between the chor-police. No blood or any hardcore gore either. The stunts and action sequences don’t grate your ears with crushing iron rods and cars, they rather make you laugh (at times) at their ridiculousness. I don’t know what’s the criteria for you liking a film in IMAX, but no blood, no missiles don’t excite me into paying the flashy ticket price.

The Dhoom franchise’s latest offering is a safe film with an end that won’t affect the brand’s future, yet Dhoom 3 is a bearable film just because it doesn’t do a lot of things wrong, instead of doing many things right.

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

Bombay Talkies

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Bombay Talkies
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shubhangi Bhujbal, Naman Jain, Ranvir Shorey, Vineet Kumar, Sudhir Pandey

To type a personal paragraph(s) on what I love about films or not to type: that is the question.

Indian cinema, since its inception in 1913 has come a long way. Be it technically or professionally, whether it has made advancement in telling contemporary stories in a hard hitting fashion is not to be passed upon here. Bombay Talkies tries going in for the latter parameter and that is why you should love the film in its entirety for.

There are four directors with their own separate films, not all of them exactly revolving around cinema’s impact on us, but taking on different characters’ struggles and individual tales of varying emotions. The first one is Karan Johar’s film hedlining Rani, Randeep and the fresh Saqib from Mere Dad Ki Maruti. It starts off with a pumped up confrontational opening and his camera chasing Saqib.

With a style uncharacteristic to his, Johar maneuvers a telling tale of dysfunctional relationships and the society’s collective inability of accepting things as they are. He operates in a urban setting with the idealistic middle class mentality and equates it to the high classes’ apparent double standards. The actors save the plot from becoming clunky at times.

Dibakar Banerjee explores the chawls of Mumbai, where his protagonist (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has a pet emu named Anjali. Oh how I love his subtle comedy! Nawazuddin plays an uninspired actor and a failed businessman (sic) with limited means to support his family. It’s his apparent gumption and the inner battles that form this amusing feature.

Sadashiv Amrapukar comes out of his spiritual and literal dumpsters to give him a reality check, obviously laced with good lines. It’s the ending that simply transcends into another dimension of its own. It is divine, fulfilling and succulent. The detailing is so brilliant along with Nawaz’s simmering performance, you rejoice every moment of his swaggering presence.

Post interval, Zoya Akhtar follows up with her story of a small family whose patriarch wants his son to get ‘tough’ by making him attend football sessions in school by sacrificing the daughter’s allowance for a history trip. The boy is enamored by Katrina Kaif and wants to emulate her dance performances in his fantasyland.

The approach for establishing plot devices is a bit faulty and rushed at times, but what Akhtar captures beautifully is the sibling’s relationship. It’s a simple I-look-your-back-you-look-mine one, but it’s charming, delightful and uh, heartwarming! Kaif delivers a special message in a fairy outfit and that is an added incentive to the joyful end of this film.

Indians love their films and they worship their actors with reverence and treat them as an abstract family member. Kashyap’s film is just about that. A son carries a jar of Murabba for his father’s idol (Amitabh Bachchan) to Mumbai. The reasoning for this task is what crazy fan fictions are made up of. Vineet Kumar plays the Bachchan obsessed Sudhir Pandey’s son Vijay.

He makes his trip to Mumbai from Allahabad to realize there are just a two dozen strong other Vijays hanging outside Bachchan’s house, awaiting their chance to have a few moments with The Man. Again, the finish scene with Kumar’s return to his father is purely frolicky.

Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap work a dark and cheery screenplay respectively; not their customary styles, which could cause some disappointments or surprise among their loyal viewers who could be expecting something more of the usual. I count it as one of the film’s strengths and a welcome change.

Altogether, Bombay Talkies is a great tribute that doesn’t focus on being one. And that is why it turns out to be so good.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars) 

Jab Tak Hai Jaan


Jab Tak Hai Jaan
Release date: November 13, 2012
Directed by: Yash Chopra
Cast: Shahrukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma

Placed in the midst of ginormous expectations and sour comments over the initial release of its videos, Jab Tak Hai Jaan had a lot of roadblocks as challenges in its way, even before hitting the screens. Did it live up to the expectations? Sure, read on!

Set in London around 10 years ago, Samar Anand (Shahrukh Khan) is a youngster who’s looking for a job to break his family tradition of being an officer in the army because his mother doesn’t want any more military deaths in her family. Or so he says. He does odd jobs and tries to earn as much as he can. And while doing one such cleaning job, he comes across Meera Thapad (Katrina Kaif) heading into a church. She’s got her own way with God where she asks for things and gives up a thing in return to please him.

After a song and a rare smoking sequence featuring our lead actress in her engagement dress, Meera and Samar have their first real conversation. Along the way they pull off the brilliantly captured dance sequence preceding Ishq Shava and the scenery around it. Katrina dances with much oomph and you are pretty much shocked. This is where the protagonists’  feelings get convoluted and the much obscure hurdles now start surfacing. There are no tyrannical fathers and uncles, but there are spiritual (?) issues.

Akira (Anushka Sharma) is a peppy, self-proclaimed ‘heartless bitch’ who bears a stark contrast to Samar and Meera’s approach to love and relationships. She’s not scared of jumping out of relationships and doesn’t care about anything beyond sex.  And she isn’t scared of jumping into ice-cold water for a dare too! Uh, okay. Akira is acquainted with a much calm and serious layer of Samar’s personality as now he defuses bombs without protective gear. But he has his reasons for that. She’s intrigued about him and decides to share this story of a fearless man who’s diffused 98 bombs so far.

What you see in this plot isn’t hunky-dory bubblegum material crap, you get to watch people in their actual habitats: cussing, enjoying, kissing and sharing private humor. Which is where the strength of the film lies, the women aren’t insecure about their man’s choices, and independent in their own element. Meera is grounded yet confident about her decisions, Akira flirts to the extent of picking up Samar to make him get into his element. Yes, there’s the part where Samar calls Akira by ‘Kurosawa’.

Anil Mehta’s cinematography is brilliant and so artistically pleasing that sometimes, you forget there’s also a floundering story playing on the same screen. More than the music, the instrumental theme of JTHJ is more catchy and melodious. Even Challa isn’t a video capturing London’s scenery, it serves a purpose and yes, Shahrukh strums the guitar when the guitar’s playing in the back, unlike the cutsized promos. Saans shows you immaculate chemistry between the characters and I’ve already praised the entire Ishq Shava sequence. There’s light witty comedy as well, but it’s only subtle.

Yash Chopra shows how he’s evolved since his last film Veer-Zaara, he doesn’t hold back from letting his characters cuss like youngsters usually do and making them unpretentious and more real. There is no dancing around trees in chiffon sarees for the heroines and no cringe-in-your-seat moment. Shahrukh shows the shift in his character’s evolution with charm, Katrina looks like a million bucks and retains the grace associated with quintessential Yashraj heroines. Anushka plays her chirpy and upfront brash character smoothly.

Finally, Jab Tak Hai Jaan is a love story based on the conflict between a woman’s beliefs and love, and a man’s undying passion. It’s a film laced with its own imperfections and pivotal flaws with the screenplay, although perfectly finished in many departments. Yashji’s final outing as a director is quite watchable.

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

Agneepath Review


Agneepath
Release Date: January 26, 2012
Directed by: Karan Malhotra
Cast: Hrithik Roshan, Priyanka Chopra, Sanjay Dutt, Rishi Kapoor, Zarina Wahab, Om Puri, Chetan Pandit.

No matter however “different” an approach a filmmaker uses, there are obvious referrals & comparisons with the set standards of the original film. The viewers always refrain from remembering what they don’t want to and carry a set of frame of reference while going in for the remade classics. I am a fan of the original Agneepath and its unabashed commercial nature. The new one doesn’t fall short of the mainstream nuances as well.

The film gets off at a brisk pace, considering the original Agneepath’s run time of a massive three hours. And somehow, the child playing the junior Vijay Chauhan (Arish Bhiwandiwala) is spectacularly similar in appearance to the child who played the same role in the original (Master Manjunath) Vijay has an inane righteousness and a will to stand up against injustice and he will put up a tough fight with the last thread of his soiled banyan (vest) The story goes on to bring up an evil Kancha (Sanjay Dutt) who is out on a self-inflicted treacherous path to overcome his hidden demons. Vijay’s father, Master Deenanath is lynched by the horrific ways of Kancha and an instigated village mob to get rid of all opposition to turn the local village factory into a cocaine hub. The gut-wrenching tragedy makes the doom-struck family to move on to the big city, Mumbai. The “fire”, of revenge that is, still simmering in Vijay’s heart, mind or body seeks out some support that would help him to become the powerful drug lord that would then avenge his father’s death. Rauf Lala (Riahi Kapoor) is that potion that makes our pint-sized Viju into the new ruler of Dongri.

Priyanka Chopra’s character, Kaali Gaawde is stemmed out of a clear stereotype. After the initial few scenes, the original characteristics of her character disappear and you get the ordinary heroine of our current times. The role of our actresses in our films, especially in the overtly-hyped ventures has just stagnated to a meagre “support” for our alpha male’s soft points to be highlighted. The usual journey of hardships and the survival of our protagonist is portrayed with empathy and loud background scores, though appealing. The original characters of the earlier Agneepath don’t have the same amount of screen time, but Karan Malhotra puts up vivid colours in the form of a varied range of character components.

You get a lot of muscle behind every scene, but the film never manages to reach the appropriate depth of each character. Kancha gets more of his vindictive appeal from his appearance than his deeds; the grown-up Vijay has no emotions raging through him, except for the usual monotonous ones. In all honesty, no other actor has more beef in his role than Rishi Kapoor. The film’s music fits in at some junctures, and makes a loss of continuous action at others.

Chikni Chameli will get them to sail past through the weekend storm, the twist in the original plot will help them go further, but this remake is definitely not better than the Yash Johar commercial masterpiece. (That comparison is too hard to resist for anyone) Agneepath stands for whatever it is meant to and entertains you with a garishly decorated ensemble of void characters.

My rating:  **1/2

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