Posts Tagged ‘ Mikey McCleary ’

Befikre

befikre-poster

Befikre
Release date: December 9, 2016
Directed by: Aditya Chopra
Cast: Ranveer Singh, Vaani Kapoor, Akarsh Khurana, Ayesha Raza, Armaan Ralhan

Yashraj’s common tropes of using a European destination for chastising the underlying, now sexual, then romantic, experiments of the Indian protagonists; invoking elaborately choreographed dance-offs to ease out tensions in love stories, or making the lovers acknowledge their actual sentiments for each other; and clinging on to straws of traditionalism, while reaching out to the new, morally and culturally progressive; they all find a place in Befikre. In the middle of these cliff notes, there is some humor, much anguish, and an underhanded indie rom-com like “carefree” approach to deliver a film without a hokey antagonist.

The film opens with the much-talked Labon Ka Kaarobaar where innumerable hetero couples kiss, there’s diversity in the kissers’ colors, shapes, and sizes, but not in sexual orientations. Every thing is picture-perfect straight, and then Dharam (Ranveer Singh) lands in Paris, and his flatmates are two very attractive gay women. Dharam being the virile, sex-crazed lad, vividly imagines himself in a threesome with them, winking at the viewers and himself. Could this point to a desi-retelling of a forgotten American Pie sequel, or perhaps something more real that actually turns out an intriguing character study? Sadly, neither.

He gets out to ‘party’ on his first day itself. Even with his well-formed biceps, tailored denims that grip his butt perfectly, and a healthy hairline, he faces rejection. This scene was empowering to watch in particular. More like a soothing Aditya Chopra petting our heads in wistful consolation. Springs in Shyra (Vaani Kapoor), the local, who knows the bars and the city in-and-out. They hook-up over a “dare”, a plot device that’s conveniently brought up again and again to help the protagonists in making bad decisions and some memories for their characters.

Gradually, they decide to live-in together, and mutually pledge that they won’t become the conservative husband and wife, nor do things that conventional lovers do. It is this oath that keeps resurfacing whenever they are consumed with the thought of confronting their feelings for the other. It’s frustrating to watch them see past versions of their younger selves, popping up with a song and dance in French, and yet, commendable, at the commitment to the tomfoolery and the showmanship. If this film had fifteen more minutes of ditty-dancing, it’d qualify as a full-blown musical.

For the lack of any real friends, Dharam and Shyra confide in his professional, cough boring cough, comedy routine and her aloo paraanthe. There’s the usual aggrandizement of grandeur in the way of beach vacations, holiday sea cruises, cosmetic perfection, except for the little black bush of hair in Ranveer Singh’s armpits, leaving hardly any scope for any frame to appear slightly sad, or even melancholic. But can we really blame them for this plastic manufacturing?

Aditya Chopra serves us what he thinks we would like to dish up, at the fag end of the year, in the throes of soft kisses and extremely mellifluous music, a film that is not particularly hollow, just like the millennials that are his target audience and the film’s primary characters. If it weren’t for their superhuman dancing finesse, the baffling excesses, and that mess of a Priyadarshan film-like climax sequence, Befikre could have passed off as a decently watchable experience. A balance that Imtiaz Ali has mastered, Aditya Chopra flounders with this time around.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

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Margarita With A Straw

Margarita,_with_a_Straw_-_poster

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)

Nautanki Saala

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Nautanki Saala
Release date: April 12, 2013
Directed by: Rohan Sippy
Cast: Ayushmann Khurrana, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Pooja Dalvi, Gaelyn Mendonca, Evelyn Sharma, Sulbha Arya, Sanjeev Bhatt

Rohan Sippy’s official adaptation of Danièle Dubroux and Pierre Salvadori’s Après Vous (A 2003 French film) has a cool urban premise and some spirited writing and performances. It borrows only the basic plot and makes a lot of changes to the characters and the narrative.

Ram Parmar shortened to RP (Ayushmann Khurrana) prevents an unknown stranger from committing suicide. He doesn’t even ask for his name and tries to help him out. Ram’s live-in girlfriend Chitra (Gaelyn Mendonca) is shocked and perturbed in equal measures by his this endeavor. On their trip to the stranger’s house in Pune, Ram gets to know his name, i.e. Mandar Lele (Kunaal Roy Kapur)

Out of sympathy or what his girlfriend Chitra later labels as a God complex, Ram lobbies for Mandar to get a part in a play that he’s directing. Meanwhile he also traces down Nandini (Pooja Dalvi) – Mandar’s ex-girlfriend whom he can’t let go. Hustling between his own girlfriend, Mandar and his ex-girlfriend, Ram is now stuck in a major predicament.

The first half of the film is very entertaining and you keep asking for more. The pace is encouraging and you are thrust into a second half that suffers through quite a few problems. A major issue is the prolonged hinting at the eventual climax, it’s as much as hamster running on a wheel with the carrot just dangling away every time the creature came close to it. The stretched out build to the end is grimacing.

The men in the lead pull out a good job at letting their roles grow with you. Pooja Dalvi hams it up a little and Gaelyn falls into her character just finely. The attractive Evelyn Sharma has little to do, while Sanjeev Bhatt shines as the mumbling producer. The music is a treat, though they go a tad overboard with it. I’ll be lying if I didn’t think that this film is an out an out winner at the halfway mark.

But that was not to be. After all the issues that exist, Nautanki Saala is still funny, light and also a dash of narcissism (in the form of the said God complex) always amuses me.

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

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