Posts Tagged ‘ Mukesh Chhabra ’

Dangal

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Dangal
Release date: December 23, 2016
Directed by: Nitesh Tiwari
Cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Zaira Wasim, Suhani Bhatnagar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Rohit Shankarwar, Aparshakti Khurrana, Girish Kulkarni, Vivan Bhatena

Heroics of the Phogat Sisters, Yogeshwar Dutt and Sushil Kumar over the years, and the recent surge of Sakshi Malik at this year’s Summer Olympics have resuscitated life into the long-forsaken sport of amateur wrestling. To top it off, the only victors of any medals, or, any memorable performances of any kind at the said event were all by young women. Dipa Karmakar, PV Sindhu, and Malik, thrust into the collective pop-culture with immense glory.

For the second time in a single year, wrestling is bestowed upon attention that the sport has not seen in years of cinema, where an akhaadaa would only be used for comic relief or as a den for the brawny henchmen for the bad guys, at the most. The desi training grounds are treated with reverence and for what they are, strongholds of men who deem women entering the field as a potential sin that could land them in hell.

Mahavir Phogat (Aamir Khan) is a national wrestling champion who rues on missing out on winning a medal for his country on the international scale. Like many other athletes from the country, he suffices with a safe job to cater for his family, instead of persisting on with his passion for the sport. A son or two to fulfill his personal aspirations, is all he needs. But as fate would have it, his wife would birth four daughters, in the film’s most satirical sequences, where every member of the village has their own method on how to conceive a male child. The suggestions fail, and Mahavir’s dreams come crashing.

Until the oldest of the quartet, Geeta (Zaira Wasim) and the plucky Babita (Suhani Bhatnagar) beat up boys for bullying them. Mahavir does not reprimand his daughters, as his eyes widen in disbelief, and the realization sets in. All he wanted was gold for his nation on the big stage, and women can very well do that. The girls, first surprised at their father’s reaction, soon turn into soldiers for his marching orders. Borrowing their cousin’s trousers to turn them into the traditional knickers, so they can run at ease. The socks with their loosened elastic grip around the little girls’ feet. Knockoffs of branded polo shirts. The authenticity is pleasing. Mahavir’s wife’s outright refusal at allowing meat to be cooked in her kitchen. The film solidifies its strains through the many things that it gets right: the girls collectively revolting against their father, the young bride with a mournful deadpan on her face while the overgrown adults gush at the wedding, the veritable Haryanvi dialects down to the hilt.

The young girls blossom into women. From here on, the struggle for the international gold intensifies. Dangal, the film’s crowning jewels are the four young women and their casting, direction and the finer details to their costumes, cosmetic appearances and wrestling technicalities, providing greater depth to the film, much like the corner pockets of a pool table. What would a plain cue-game table surface be without the drop pockets? Aamir Khan, as the coach, father, and overwhelming patriarch of a slowly-progressing Haryanvi hamlet  is compelling, cruel and achingly wonderful. Be it the rotund paunch, the dusted kurtaa paijaamaa and somewhat glued gamchaa around his shoulders. A natural progression in the behavioural pattern of Mahavir Phogat, as he ages from the young office clerk to the father gracefully folding his hands at a grovelling wrestling roadshow organizer. The hothead in him, springing into action when the occasion requires.

Fatima Sana Shaikh as Geeta is tenacious, earnest and fresh. The obliging nods that Indians usually give off while obliging to their seniors, the dimpled gentle shy smile and the beautifully choreographed double-arm underhook and Fisherman suplexes, a complete wrestler. Sanya Malhotra as the slightly little more obedient younger Babita is equally intriguing to watch. The rigorous physical routines are captured to the last bit. The young Zaira and Suhani practice their bridging and hip tosses enthusiastically. Except for the final German suplex that looks a little off in slow-motion towards the climax, Kripa Shankar Bishnoi’s wrestling choreography is excellent. A special mention for Girish Kulkarni’s conniving coach act.

The picturization of the athletic events is decently notable. The presentation is a lot better than earlier sport films. Daler Mehndi, Raftaar, Jonita Gandhi and Sarwar Khan – Sartaz Khan Barna, Saddy Ahmad collaborate with Pritam to render a thumping soundtrack that colludes perfectly with the narrative. Though, what transcends the superb technical quality of the film, is the clear assertion of the film’s women as the film’s true deserving heroes. In a film universe, where young women are constantly commodified into mascots for product placements, Dangal creates role-models for little girls and boys to look up to. Thoroughly enjoyable, moving and powerful; this is undoubtedly one of the best films of this year.

My rating: ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5)

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Raman Raghav 2.0

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Raman Raghav 2.0
Release date: June 24, 2016
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Vicky Kaushal, Sobhita Dhulipala, Amruta Subhash, Ashok Lokhande, Mukesh Chhabra

Raman Raghav was a serial killer in the ’60s and the rest you can Google for yourself. Raman Raghav 2.0, with a disclaimer, tells us that this film is NOT about him. It’s inspired from his brutalities, and in turn lead to an inspired character who looks up to the notorious criminal.

Ramanna (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) is mostly unnamed through the film, even when he pays a visit to his sister after being away from her for a period of seven years. His sister (Amruta Subhash) isn’t particularly happy to see him; nor her little son and old husband (Ashok Lokhande) but yet he makes himself feel welcomed, if not with his harsh words, then with a car jack and a motorcycle helmet.

Little is given away about his troubled past with his sister, and his individual past. He calls himself Sindhi Dalwai, an alias that the original Raman Raghav went by in his time. He maintains a small diary where he lists down his conquests, often giving them made-up names, as he kills indiscriminately. Or when he gets a call from god, as he claims.

On the other hand, is ACP Raghavan (Vicky Kaushal) who crosses paths with Ramanna, not by chance though. Raghavan is a cop with serious issues. He cokes up at a crime scene. He has an obnoxiously ignorant view on birth control and protected sex. And he has consistent daddy issues, so much so that his father (Vipin Sharma) still gets to threaten him and talk about what a great fuck up he is, in a room filled with strangers.

In an interview, Kashyap claimed this film to be a love story. Ramanna perceives Raghavan to be like him. He feels that they are made for each other because they are both killers. One of them is licensed to kill, and the other one finds killing to be a natural instinct. Just like eating, shitting and fornicating, killing is important too. His act of getting Raghavan to like him sets off the stereotypical cat and mouse chase between the supposed protagonist and the antagonist.

Kashyap even references a little shtick from his Black Friday, in the sardined shanties of Mumbai, brimming with filth and poverty. He plays to his strengths, which are packing in uncomfortable conversations and making them entertaining. Ramanna has a child-like glow when he confesses his transgressions. Simi (Sobhita Dhulipala), Raghavan’s girlfriend, cuts him off in the middle of a, what appears like a usual act of abuse he’d partake in any other night, and attends to a phone call by taking a timeout. You wouldn’t know if you should laugh level dark comedy is his strong point.

The women appear as mere props in the path of destruction, but they both have character. Amruta Subhash playing Raman’s conflicted sister is scared of him, yet she wouldn’t stand by as a spectator while he wreaks havoc in her house. Simi shares a volatile relationship with Raghav. She knows when to tighten the leash around his neck and when to hold back. Only detail they probably missed out on was her profession. A very small, yet confusing flaw.

The performances of all actors involved are thoroughly ingrained with their parts. The camera holds tight frames, fixed on the characters’ faces. The focus, though, slips away from the face to reduce the amount of gore on screen, and substitutes it with powerful sound. Basic storytelling rule done good. You flinch, and your toes curl up. You may even clatter your teeth. Nawazuddin lends a lot to that effect with his towering portrayal of a manic voyeur and a relentlessly honest truthfulness to his reality. The Hindi film industry would do better with some more Amruta Subhash around. She’s extremely gritty and nuanced in the only extended sequence of the film that she is in.

Side note: Mukesh Chhabra was in two films in two weeks. And this performance was a hoot!

Dhulipala has a strong presence and is quite potent in her role. Vicky Kaushal is trusted with a lot of heavy lifting, and he fits in as much as he can without fracturing his back. He is asked to be asserting, authoritative and simultaneously an addict. Again, that’s a flaw I find with the writing. A grouse that I have with the execution of the murders is that there is a consistent effort to dilute the gravity of every act of barbarism with a piece of background music. It’s not on the level that American Psycho did it, where there was absolutely no worth to the loss of humans in the film. But then it’s a recurring theme, which steals some of the investment from the viewer.

Raman Raghav 2.0 is Kashyap toying with a setting that he’s most comfortable in, and just how none of his films are, even this one isn’t about a moral lesson in living your life in a certain way, or not committing forty odd murders on the streets of a city. It’s a purely sadistic slasher film with a perfectly acceptable twist at the end, and with Kashyap’s brand of humor and wit.

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

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