Posts Tagged ‘ Pankaj Tripathi ’

Manjhi – The Mountain Man

Manjhi_the_mountain_man_poster
Manjhi – The Mountain Man
Release date: August 21, 2015
Directed by: Ketan Mehta
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Ashraf-Ul-Haque, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi, Gaurav Dwivedi, Prashant Narayanan

If you belong to the internet generation, which came across Dashrath Manjhi through a shared ‘viral’ post, you’ve seen him through the one dimensional spectrum of greatness that is alluded to him. And if you’ve managed to stay unaware of him, he, almost singlehandedly, broke a mountain in Bihar. The why, and the how of this fact makes up the entire film.

Again, it was a ‘viral’ post that put this man back into popular discourse, and each of these posts are manufactured for certain motives, and Manjhi – The Mountain Man reeks of a similar vibe as well. Right from the initial few minutes, where a voiceover explains things to you, and until the introduction of the adult Dashrath Manjhi (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) and he’s made to look like a complete jock. Sure, it was done to make him appear “entertaining”, but it doesn’t feel organic. It’s almost uncomfortable to look at.

On his first day back in his village, he chances upon Phaguniya (Radhika Apte) selling handmade toys by the bus stand. Here starts the shaky romantic angle and more hokey attempts at meshing shallow humor. The love story is quite believable and has some flesh in it, but the gag-like moments in the first half appear to be mere tools for making the film just commercially viable.

The film starts earning its ticket money when it gets serious. The serious “parts” keep showing up in between as the film paces in non-linear fashion. The parallel tracks make things confusing as at one point the film seems to be telling you three separate stories about the same person, simultaneously. Sandesh Shandilya’s background score and music is cussword-ing awful. Instead of adding to the moments on screen, it subtracts legitimacy with its unimaginatively titled Phaguniya sounding off every time Dashrath thinks of her. The generic sounds would have passed off in a student short film, not here.

The drama is powerful and even smart in spurts, one such scene is when the country’s then prime minister comes visiting to Manjhi’s hamlet. The whole sequence doesn’t overstay its welcome and is satirical in a subtle way. His struggle to survive, after facing abandonment on multiple fronts, in the mountains in extreme conditions is very well depicted. The earlier back and forth between the parallel tracks makes the film’s tone difficult to grasp. Once it leaves that approach and simply focuses on Dashrath’s journey, it starts to become compelling to watch.

Siddiqui is wasted in pulling off antics similar to the ones that he’s excelled in Gangs of Wasseypur and The Lunchbox. I’ll say the same thing again, he finds new strengths when he does things that he hasn’t done before; when he shreds the persona of being a goof. That, precisely, is the issue with the entire film. It tries to be many things that it shouldn’t have bothered to be. It casts Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi as the classic antagonists, to add more subtext to the plot, and to perhaps offer opportunities to build character actions and choices.

Manjhi – The Mountain Man isn’t as daunting and taxing to watch as breaking a hill, but it’s surely less effective as a film than what it could have been.

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

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Masaan

masaan-poster

Masaan
Release date: July 24, 2015
Directed by: Neeraj Ghaywan
Cast: Rich Chadda, Sanjay Mishra, Shweta Tripathi, Vicky Kaushal, Pankaj Tripathi, Nikhil Sahni

Death, relocation, and even a certain kind of trauma all have one thing in common; they can be the catalysts to change. I wrote about change in my review of Killaa Marathi film directed by Avinash Arun, who is also the DP of Masaan. He shoots Neeraj Ghaywan’s film, co-incidentally themed on the similar premise of forbearing to the thrusting waves of change and shaping one’s existence in the ways circumstantial activities force themselves upon the cinematic universe.

This universe is thickly veiled in realistic dimensions, subtly trying to grapple with the major forces of caste-barriers, a narrow-minded populace in a highly idealized place of pilgrimage and plays with innocuous young love. Devi Pathak (Richa Chadda) is the well-mannered, soft spoken daughter of a high-caste Brahman, Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra) who manages to work the computer by the day, eventually earning much more than her father and is more ambitious than he could ever be. In the midst of harboring this ambition, she sees herself in a bad predicament. A predicament which wouldn’t make much sense to a first-world inhabitant, but is a very grave situation for a young lady who aspires to a simple life where she wants to be enabled of leading her life with not much fuss.

On another bank of the Ganges, lives Deepak Chaudhary (Vicky Kaushal) of the Dom community, which has been unceremoniously handed the duty of crushing skulls of bodies that burn in the funeral pyre at the Ghats, so the souls of the dead can leave their bodies, as a character points out. He’s a mechanical engineering student vying for an urbane job that would possibly elevate him from his surroundings into a somewhat fair world where he’ll be judged by his potential and work.

Both of the parallel protagonists are closely connected by the common chord of a form of loss. They face a certain transformation brought along by the loss and try to sail along the calm waters of the Sangam. Devi’s conflict sets in motion at the start of the film, whereas Deepak’s surfaces in the later portion. Deepak’s infatuation and adoration for Shalu (Shweta Tripathi) is perhaps the dynamic that a lot of people in small cities have in their first romantic relationship, one that Devi could have shared with the boy at her workplace, which is never shown. The young love manifests itself very cutely, filled with prized gestures and amateur kissing skills.

Debutantes Vicky Kaushal and Shweta Tripathi enact their well-etched parts with equal portions of grace and charm. Never do they let you in on the jitters or any hints of discomfort. Chadda and Mishra are restrained as the emotionally wounded daughter and father. And little Jhonta (Nikhil Sahni) and Sadhya (Pankaj Tripathi) are delightful support players.

These characters indicate the strength in the writing of the film and the execution of combating with grief and other morbid objects isn’t gravely morose as it could have been. The film doesn’t steer clear of heavy drama, unlike stereotyped ‘film-festival’ movies. Neeraj Ghaywan and Varun Grover know when to delve deeper into the confrontations and when to pull back, when there’s a requirement for a breakdown and when there’s a need to stay composed.

Masaan never lets the backdrop of its location, i.e. the town of Banaras, or the shocks of the narrative, take precedence over the entire film. As one of the film’s featured musical composition goes, “Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai, main kisi pul saa… thartharaataa hun.” the film passes by melancholically and rattles you gently.

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

Fukrey

Fukrey-Poster
Fukrey
Release date: June 14, 2013
Directed by: Mrigdeep Singh Lamba
Cast: Pulkit Samrat, Varun Sharma, Manjot Singh, Ali Fazal, Priya Anand, Vishakha Singh, Pankaj Tripathi, Richa Chadda

A bunch of cash-crunched guys set out to make big on their vain plans is Fukrey summed up in a line. Though it isn’t this plot that entirely holds the film.

Hunny (Pulkit Samrat) and Choocha (Varun Sharma) bunk school and have knack for winning lotteries. They dream of breaking into Bishop College, after failing the final year three times in a row. The college’s guard-cum-peon Pandit (Pankaj Tripathi) offers them the final examination question papers for a steep price. Laali (Manjot Singh) is Billa Halwaai’s son who also wants to get into the same college, needs money to grease the palms and magnanimous hands of the administration.

Zafar (Ali Fazal) is a struggling musician in dire need of means to get his father treated at a respectable medical center. All of their vices and needs lead them to Bholi Punjaban (Richa Chadda) whose character is strongly inspired by the Delhi sex-racket queen Sonu Punjaban. The stakes are raised and they have a few risks to take.

The pace of the film is very indulgent to be a tightly-packed out-and-out entertainer. The laughs are generous and cunningly scattered all over the narrative. Fukrey is hilarious through thick and thin and K.U. Mohanan’s stellar photography gives Delhi a different feel. The strength lies in the individual characters and their characterization.

The unpretentious representation of Delhi is accentuated by their performances. Be it the small love story between Neetu (Vishakha Singh) and Hunny, Laali’s prayers at the Gurudwara, whatever tales Choocha rakes up, Bholi’s powerful influx or Panditji’s slight English. There’s subtlety in humor and in the depiction of the plot’s conflicts too.

The issue here is that there’s too much crammed up to keep it taut. Spared for a dance number, you can bear up with the length otherwise. The climax is prolonged and a bit off as an extension of what  preceded it upto that point. Again, the individual characters’ depth and their performances are extremely appraise-worthy. All of the cast is near perfect.

Fukrey may not be an enlightening revelation, but it’s a delightful addition to the slice-of-life-boys-version category.

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

Gangs of Wasseypur 2


Gangs of Wasseypur 2
Release date: August 8, 2012
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Pankaj Tripathi, Satya Anand, Raj Kumar Yadav, Zeishan Quadri, Richa Chadda, Anurita Jha, Vineet Kumar, Piyush Mishra, Jameel Khan, Reemma Sen

Revenge was the center point of Gangs of Wasseypur and with the change in characters and situations, the theme gets gory and murkier. The lines which were drawn earlier are now more unclear than ever. And with the evolution of the story the realistic moral values of the characters also get a tweak in the form of double-crosses and debaucheries.

The earlier part presented us with a massive narrative that spun around three generations with its central protagonist – Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai) – inflicted by gunshots mercilessly fired at him by Sultan (Pankaj Tripathi) and his partners at a petrol pump. This is the starting point of our second part.
This film is set in a shorter time-period. Starting from late eighties-early nineties and going up till 2009.

Danish Khan (Vineet Kumar) had always been the more active of Sardan Khan’s sons as he was the oldest and definitively loyal to his family, unlike some of his family members who held a few grudges against their patriarch. Nagma (Richa Chadda) insists her sons to avenge their father’s death and soon, the third generation of the Khan household steps into the battleground for a final all guns blaring battle of brutality.

Faizal Khan (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) was shown as the ever ganja smoking, cinema-influenced physically meek brother who never wanted to get involved in  Sardar’s dirty business. The increasing number of deaths in his family drives him to the edge and soon, Faizal is the new Sardar. Faizal’s half brother Definite (Zeishan Quadri) was born and brought up at the Khan arch nemesis Ramadhir Singh household. Definite also, like the rest of Bihar/Jharkhand wants to be the next top-gun mafia head.

Perpendicular a.k.a. Babua is Faizal’s brother and is perhaps one of the most interesting characters ever created. With his razor blade chewing skills that terrorizes everyone alike, Perpendicular creates havoc by robbing everything from groceries to jewelry. Shamshad Alam (Raj Kumar Yadav) sweet talks his way into Faizal’s empire by making ridiculously inappropriate business plans with his own intentions of reaching the top.

Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia) tries to rope in every wayward soul that works for Faizal and make them work in his favor. Though limited in presence, Ramadhir sure has some helluva punching lines. Mohsina (Huma Qureshi) is the anchor to Faizal’s struggling ship. She pumps up his confidence with a song and few sensual hugs, which never look questionable or unconvincing.

The chase sequences also get a touch of Wasseypur and turn out to be hilarious. They are so precious that I will not even divulge any more than that. Anurag Kashyap again guarantees visually appealing dimly-lit shots, nothing short of aesthetically orgasmic. Every loose end of the earlier part finds a logical connection and closing in this part except for a few. (Too intrinsic to be listed)

G.V. Prakash’s haunting background score reappears and still remains captivating alongside with Sneha Khanwalkar’s brilliant music which cannot be just described in enough words. Zeishan Qureshi’s debut isn’t your quintessential one, but it sure is brilliantly earthy and convincing. Nawazuddin Siddiqui treats the camera like it’s his long-lost lovelorn partner and gives out a passionately wonderful performance as the conflicted Faizal.

Gangs of Wasseypur Part One was defined by powerful ensemble actors and this part finely encapsulates the ‘other guys’ as vital players. This may not be as grand as the first part, but it’s more slick, cutting and hip. Hat tip to the well-depicted action scenes with detailing the tiniest of bloodspills. Gangs of Wasseypur 2 need not be compared with the first part as it is a completely different and separated product which delivers a new jolt to the impending masterpiece.

Now why do you even need any more reasons to watch it?

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

Gangs of Wasseypur

Gangs of Wasseypur Part 1
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Manoj Bajpai, Richa Chadda, Jaideep Ahlawat, Tigmanshu Dhulia, Piyush Mishra, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Reemma Sen, Huma Qureshi, Pankaj Tripathi, Jameel Khan

La vengeance se mange très-bien froide – which means, “revenge is a dish best served cold” from French novel Mathilde by Marie Joseph Eugène Sue is perhaps the center-point of this magnum opus. The canvas is set for fluent masterstrokes for Anurag Kashyap and his meticulously selected creative team and cast alike. Gangs of Wasseypur is set in different eras, where the definition of revenge keeps evolving.

The opening sequence starts from a scene that has a significant futuristic importance.  Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) goes against the tide in his village and bears the brunt of that sin, giving rise to an insane need of seeking vendetta from the wrongdoers of Shahid in Sardar Khan (Manoj Bajpai). Sardar knows what exactly happened and promises to not rest until he gets blood on his hands. Literally, and figuratively. Richa Chadda plays the role of Najma, Sardar’s wife, and she brings the same amount of confidence and ease that she did in Oye Lucky Lucky Oye as Dolly. Najma puts up with Sardar’s all habits with her own inane traits.

Tigmanshu Dhulia with his portrayal of Ramadhir Singh shows you a formidable villain under that director’s hat. Sardar’s indiscretions carry on and reach their peak when he comes across incredibly attractive and young Durga (Reemma Sen) who’s yet a virgin. Ramadhir hangs on to his powerful position while Sardar carries on with his domination, unaware of his intentions. Meanwhile, Sardar’s neighbors from his village seek his help to get rid of the newfound dominance of Sultan Khan (Pankaj Tripathi) from the Qureshi household. Here cultivates the ultimate combination of gory means to establish dominance and put the adversary down in the most gruesome manner.

Nawazuddin plays Faizal Khan , Sardar’s younger son. He’s that somewhat dull kid of the family. He sets his eyes on the strikingly vivacious Mohsina (Huma Qureshi) and plays out an interesting small-town budding romance between them. Gangs of Wasseypur leaves at a break-point where you can’t seem to get enough of the flowing storyline. Do not leave your seats until the end credits finish rolling out, that’s when you get to see the trailer for the next part.

With little scope to display his love for brilliant cinematographic spots with colored themes in the background, Kashyap makes the optimum use of every possible chance that he gets. Making the already binding plot more juicy and visually appealing. The running time could be touted as long, but not once did this viewer stare at his watch in dismay and pain. Gangs of Wasseypur could spoil you with all its seeming perfectness and excellent background scores that provide that ‘extra’ bit of push into the building thrill. No point in raving more about Sneha Khanwalkar’s haunting and well-researched musical compositions.

Jiya Ho Bihar Ka Lala gives you that great question mark at the end making you lust for more of this film. Kudos to the writers and everyone involved in developing the rust-free screenplay that is exhaustive and extensive at the same time.

Gangs of Wasseypur might be compared to the Godfather series and the likes, but it has surely redefined Indian gangster flicks. GoW is a must watch in every aspect.

My rating: ****1/2 (4.5 out of 5) 

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