Posts Tagged ‘ Naseeruddin Shah ’

Finding Fanny

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Finding Fanny
Release date: September 12, 2014
Directed by: Homi Adajania
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Naseeruddin Shah, Dimple Kapadia, Arjun Kapoor, Pankaj Kapur, Anand Tiwari

Deepika Padukone’s voice narrates the story of a bunch of people from a place called Pocolim in Goa, which you shouldn’t bother looking for on a map. Perhaps telling us how it doesn’t really matter if the space exists or not, but paints a picture of how things go at their own pace in this sleepy yet colorful surrounding.

Ferdy (Naseeruddin Shah) is an overgrown choir boy who still hasn’t given up on singing for the church. Angie (Deepika Padukone) catches a rooster from a flock of chickens with her bare hands, and says sorry to him before chopping his head off. Rosalina (Dimple Kapadia) is a hardnosed voluptuous queen bee to the people of Pocolim and a compassionate mother-in-law and a doting mother-like figure to her cat and anyone who needs her. Don Pedro (Pankaj Kapur) is a fledgling painter who’s obsessed about his muses until he’s done painting them. Savio (Ajun Kapoor) is a scorned admirer of Angie who’s inherited 10 dentures and a crumbling house as his family’s legacy.

The five of them leave for an inadvertently selfless road trip in Don Pedro’s car, chauffeured by Savio, which is motivated by Angie’s intentions to help Ferdy know of what happened to the only woman he loved in his life, and what could have happened if his letter professing his love for her had reached the woman. Angie works the wheels around and makes the group of five oddballs assemble, even for their own selfish interests. The premise is thin, and every time Angie says it out loud, you cringe a little.

Their individual traits keep being manifested as they drive further. Often raking up age-old classic comedy shticks and lines of popular deadpan sarcasm, Homi Adajania and Kersi Khambatta place them in a way which makes them seem fit for the characters mouthing those one-liners. Nothing is absurdly serious in the journey, not even death. Finding Fanny prods you to not take life seriously itself, in a whimsically metaphoric way.

The resolution of the final act is too candid and simple, representative of the entire film itself. The resounding message in the end isn’t an unheard or unseen one, yet it’s delectably enjoyable. Mathias Duplessy’s Goan undercurrents to the film’s background score and music soak you in the free-flowing atmosphere. Adajania doesn’t delve extensively in establishing Goa’s aesthetics and lifestyles with his DP Anil Mehta, instead they reduce the clutter by just focusing solely on the protagonists.

Yes, ‘protagonists’. Finding Fanny isn’t just the story of one protagonist, it very well breaks the Bollywood barrier of sticking to one character’s defeats and victories. It’s the collective lives intertwined simply to form a no-frills outright comedy fest with an underline of love. All the mentioned actors are so drenched in the atmosphere of the film, it’s almost as if Pankaj Kapur has always been this sleazy lech, or Mr. Shah has been this fumbling loverboy. Finding Fanny creates a space where you almost forget that all five of them have played so many roles outside the canvas of this film; which in itself is terribly commendable.

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

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Dedh Ishqiya

Dedh Ishqiya movie hd poster
Dedh Ishqiya
Release date: January 10, 2014
Directed by: Abhishek Chaubey
Cast: Naseeruddin Shah, Arshad Warsi, Madhuri Dixit-Nene, Huma Qureshi, Vijay Raaz, Manoj Pahwa, Salman Shahid

Be it Ishqiya or Dedh Ishqiya, both the films have an ‘Ishqiya’ in their titles and what is Ishqiya (love) without an underlying element of fun in it? There is constant admiration, respect, longing and an eventual appreciation of each other’s choices. Similarities are aplenty between the prequel and this sequel, Krishna (Vidya Balan) was the center of Iftekhaar or Khalu Jaan (Naseeruddin Shah) and Razzakh or Babban’s (Arshad Warsi) romantic interests. She was poised and a firebrand simultaneously. In this film, both of them have separate women to catch their attention. Begum Para (Madhuri Dixit-Nene) is elegant and poised, Munira (Huma Qureshi) is the thrill-seeker realist who grounds her man.

There are the differences too. Quite in your face at that as well. Khalu Jaan transforms into his own as Iftekhaar and wants to live for himself. Khalu almost surrendered his feelings for Babban’s attraction for Krishna, here Babban is helping Iftekhaar acquire his unrequited love for Begum Para. There’s an evolution in Babban’s growth in subtlety. The original flavour is retained, yet the flavours are left out to evolve.

Begum Para is a royal widow who has to crown a new king for her subjects and Iftekhaar lands up in lieu of dillagi. He has his underhanded ambitions, little does he know the queen has her own ambitions too. Jaan Mohammed (Vijay Raaz) will go to any extent to become the said king of Mahmoudabad. Babban reaches Mahmoudabad to get his Khaalu Jaan back with him.  Munira is Begum’s confidant, comforter and closest associate. Every character has murky waters surrounding them. The suspicion is thus born.

The organized celebration of selecting a new king for the queen has a wondrous mushaayara in Urdu, patented by the soft Nawabs of every remaining province. This is the foundation of the poetic theme to the film. Some poets pretending to be Nawabs, some pretending to be poets, some pretending everything. In this fantasyland, Babban teases Munira about having a iPhone 2 in the times of 5s. The Begum tells of a story about an neo-homoerotic king and handles her panic attacks with as much anxiety as a commoner. She charms her suitors with equal panache and class. Yet, she fraternizes with her lower-ly servant-cum-friend in her quarters with cheap rum. Munira knows what she wants from men, and it isn’t long-term smothering love.

The writers have sketched out such a colourful character palette that Setu’s brilliant photography blends hand-in-hand with. I started out this review by comparing this film with its predecessor and halfway down, I have concluded that Dedh Ishqiya is perhaps the greatest of all sequels made in Indian cinema. Shah’s gentle humility equates his innocuous playfulness. Arshad Warsi reprises his role with glorious fervour and infinite energy. Dixit has strong competition from all her co-actors and does she stand her ground like a resilient Rocky Balboa. I have a strong aftertaste of the film left in me, so much that I almost suffixed revering ji‘s to every actor’s name.

Vijay Raaz is handed over a rare role and he laps it up sharply. I am consciously avoiding anything about Huma Qureshi’s sexy balance between being all that she is in the film. She is the extra-joyful little girl after her first night with a new guy, she is the hugging consoler like a warm mother. And she is the calculative, smart modern woman. The plot avoids overbearing displays of physicality, but it uses silhouettes and beauteous subtle underplaying to put its point through.

One of the film’s subtle and most powerful messages is portrayed very gently and in minute detailing. For the sake of not letting out spoilers, I prefer not to divulge on it. Also, there’s a modern take on the “Pehle aap peehle aap mein train nikal gayi.” and a desi-Mexican-standoff that only ends in no bloodshed. Dedh Ishqiya’s original poetry, original plot devices and smart punches are just what could possibly take the Ishqiya franchise forward in the best way. I am absolutely in love with this film.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5) 

Celluloid Man

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Celluloid Man
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Shivendra Singh Dungarpur
Cast: P.K. Nair, Krzysztof Zanussi, Naseeruddin Shah, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Jaya Bachchan, Rajkumar Hirani, Jahnu Barua, Balu Mahendra, Basu Chatterjee, Mrinal Sen, Santosh Sivan, Kumar Shahani, Ketan Mehta, Shyam Benegal, Girish Kasaravalli, Yash Chopra, Kamal Haasan, Ramesh Sippy, Mahesh Bhatt, Gulzar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Hariharan

Celluloid Man is about Paramesh Krishnan Nair’s undying passion for preserving India’s earliest films and going to unknown extents to acquire that one particular print of a forgotten movie. His said love wasn’t limited to the smell of nitrate films, it was way more intimate.

As Nair walks into the opening frame with his walking stick, he describes the years that have passed on in terms of his cinematic journey. He calls his initial fascination as a wonderment at the magic of moving images; his working years driven by an obsession and how he’s learnt to understand people better with his knowledge of cinema. He cuts a soft-spoken yet no-nonsense figure. And that’s how his students/friends have always known him to be.

Interspersed with clips from Hindi film industry’s earliest marvels – be it Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra and Kaliya Mardan, or Bombay Talkies features like Jeevan Naiyya, Achhut Kanya and Kismet or S.S. Vasan’s Chandralekha – all of these being his acquisitions for the National Archives, a visual evolution of Indian cinema is on display along with Nair’s personal course. Not only the specifically relevant ones, but also the “C films” find a place here. Just how the man says it, you can have a rich past only when you have a rich history.

Jaya Bachchan reminisces the time when she was the only girl allowed to sit for the late night screenings with a handful of others in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) Pune because she was the only one who’d actually attend the screenings and not go around gallivanting. Naseeruddin Shah has more than just one tale to tell. Balu Mahendra cherishes the times when he got to sit for the early morning first viewings of the newly brought in world cinema reels, “I would be watching a Norwegian film with the toothbrush in my mouth.” The personal anecdotes and experiences by stalwarts and Nair’s admirers are numerous and beautifully interesting.

The biographical documentary soon turned into a relatable story for me as I have the same habit as that of Nair’s, that is of collecting movie tickets as souvenirs. Dungarpur uses a lot of scenes from various films archives to resonate the feelings of the situations and facts in his film. Echoing screams of “I want to live” in Bengali from Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara superimposed on stills of cobwebs hanging around celluloid reels in a lonely section of the archives, thus creating a deafening metaphor.

The Heggodu Movement begun by theater activist KV Subanna for the purpose of making the disconnected rural audiences familiar with the magnificence of Bicycle Thieves and Rashomon is also vividly recalled by the members of the participating audience members. A short montage in the later timeline depicts major themes like song, dance, action, romance and brace yourselves, members of the self-righteous moral police, full frontal Kissing from the films of black and white days. The most grande scene is perhaps the one with Nair mouthing off lines from Citizen Kane while the film plays on the screen behind him.

Just like how Mr. Nair didn’t discriminate on any basis while collecting films for the archive, Celluloid Man is an important film from a historical and cultural standpoint. It weaves his larger than life affair with cinema, simultaneously painting a picture of the sorry state of archiving as a wholly neglected activity in India. May 3, 2013 marks hundred years of Indian cinema and this film makes for compulsory viewing from every person who’s ever enjoyed a moment of theatrical magic in any form.

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

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