Posts Tagged ‘ Rajkumar Hirani ’

Shamitabh

shamitabh-poster

Shamitabh
Release date: February 6, 2015
Directed by: R. Balki
Cast: Dhanush, Akshara Haasan, Amitabh Bachchan

Far in the open classroom under the village sun, his teacher asks him who was Mahatma Gandhi’s wife. Braving the ire of his schoolteacher, the young boy has the audacity to answer “Rohini Hattangadi”. Does he know the right answer, maybe. Is he obsessed with the movies, aw-frikin-yeah. Only, this young boy is speech-impaired.

Shamitabh is built on eccentrics, theatricals and (somewhat) satire. Even in this universe, it’s difficult to get top star’s dates to make a film; the stars throw tantrums when they don’t get the attention they think they deserve. The scrawny Dhanush plays Danish, who romances the celluloid with all his senses. He’s reprehended at every step, constantly reminded that a person who looks like him can’t become a proverbial Bollywood Superstar. Even his ‘voice’tells him to have a look at himself in the mirror.

The extremely affable goth assistant director Akshara (Akshara Haasan) plays his support plank. She knows of a particular speech therapy that can help Danish to overcome that one major hurdle that seems to be stopping him from all the potential greatness. In their search for help, they fumble upon a homeless Amitabh (Amitabh Bachchan) who also moved to Mumbai to pursue his acting dreams.

The initial setup of Danish and Amitabh’s wizardry is charming to watch. There are inside references in the form of forced dance item numbers being devised to pull in the ‘masses’ for a film that is meant for the ‘classes’. Also, the film plays out as a self-descriptive depiction of the protagonist to a gathered set of media journalists, who clap even at the snidest of the usual boring condescending remarks which paint them as blood-sucking parasites. This is just one of the many forced narratives of this film.

A clash of egos, which was imminent right from the start, takes place around the halfway mark. Danish and Amitabh share a love-hate relationship right from the start. Instead of making this confrontation of heads seem vicious, it’s all passive-aggressive. Everyone knows what passive-aggressive does. It just carries on and on and on. The innovative technological premise which is used to form the base of all conflict could have been perfectly suitable for a Broadway-esque metaphorical skirmish of the two strong-headed men.

An easy excuse for all the constant-logging of heads could be that how even the bluest of collar wielding underdogs can let fame get to their head. But even that gets tedious to bear with with the developing stagnancy of the film. The film descends into an all out pestering attempt at going into an unnecessary overdrive of emotions. The emphatic individual performances of Bachchan, Dhanush and the surprisingly natural Haasan cannot salvage the overall film.

The dialogue is part philosophical and part witty; out of which Bachchan scores the most ones. But he goes the extra mile with his portrayal too, it’s not just a change of wardrobe and hair here. Dhanush completes the transformation of a young, bhajiya selling film buff to a manipulative, suave megastar without ever uttering a word in his own voice. There is simply nothing to hate about Akshara’s character. How she prioritizes her choices and how she gels the two warring titular characters with her all-black determined gumption.

There are portions which I loved, characters that I adored, and then there is the film that left me feel slighted.

My rating: **3/4 (2.75 out of 5) 

PS: The final rating was indulgently influenced by the beautiful picturization of the Ishq-E-Phillum number.

 

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PK

pk-posterPK
Release date: December 19, 2014
Directed by: Rajkumar Hirani
Cast: Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Aamir Khan, Sanjay Dutt, Saurabh Shukla, Boman Irani, Parikshit Sahni

In the December of 2009, 3 Idiots, the “highest grossing entertainer” of all times released with the same protagonist and the same director at its helm. I would reserve my observations about that film, but the similarities keep soaring in my mind. Of course, the glaring disconnect between the two is the lack of any attention to the supporting characters in PK.

Hirani along with Abhijat Joshi creates his title character as an outsider (Aamir Khan) to India’s belief systems. The outsider doesn’t know how the societies work, what’s acceptable and what’s not. He loses his way out of here and relies on the innumerable human gods for hope and answers because he has no friends and no relatives. Jagat Janani (Anushka Sharma) chances upon PK and decides to help him through her news channel.

The news channel head (Boman Irani) indulges PK with his questions about birth control, and is thoroughly impressed by his “amazing questions”. Groan. Once the film goes down the path of using a TV show as a confrontation between its only self-admitted antagonist–Tapasvi Maharaj (Saurabh Shukla) and the ever inquisitive PK, it all goes downhill.

The dichotomies and differences between the religions present hearty laughs and play out as a continuous gag; turning potentially sensitive situations into perfectly innocuous moments of lovable relativity. The writers go to originality in spurts and come up with a few new devices that turn conventional scenarios around. Unfortunately, these spurts of originality cease at being used to rake up humor and nothing beyond that.

The post-interval part is reluctant at going for an emotional depth and eventually turns out to be manipulative and shallow; where a bomb goes off and there’s no gravitas attached to the scene. It’s just something that you’re supposed to care about, but the characters on the screen underplay it and thus the film chickens out of attaching any strong subtext.

The prolonged climax of the film is insufferable to say the least. It descends into a full blown TV debate between the two aforementioned characters and the interviewees completely hijack the show and the anchor and the producer have absolutely no control over it. Yes, it’s a film and they get cinematic liberties. But I wouldn’t be pointing this out if it was the only thing that was far-fetched. What follows that and ends in a telephonic conversation with Sarfaraz (Sushant Singh Rajput) in Pakistan is outrageously ludicrous.

It’s an all Aamir Khan show here. He shoulders the entire film, not because the other actors are doing a bad job, rather they don’t get to do much. Everyone’s made out to be a sidekick to this Bhojpuri-mouthing great ashternaut (sic) His chaste Bhojpuri makes him endearing and affable, instead of thriving on the usual poor representation of the language in self-righteous Hindi films.

PK is just about a kindhearted blockbuster in its approach, which makes it ironically un-kindhearted and seem more like an insincere crossover between Hrithik Roshan’s Koi Mil Gaya and Paresh Rawal starrer OMG-Oh My God!

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 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)

Ferrari Ki Sawaari


Ferrari Ki Sawaari
Release Date: June 15, 2012
Directed by: Rajesh Mapuskar
Cast: Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani, Ritvik Sahore, Deepak Shirke, Nilesh Diwekar, Satyadeep Mishra, Seema Pahwa

There’s a difference between a feel-good film and an over-the-top mind numbing cringe fest. Ironically, the two types listed above are sold off as ‘feel-good’. Ferrari Ki Sawaari is somewhat of a pullback to the former type. Here is a tale that portrays a not-so-above-the-Parsi-poverty-line family, that is content with what they have & still believe in making it big.

Rustom/Rusy (Sharman Joshi) is a righteous man with his morality bordering on abnormal. While Rustom’s father, Deboo (Boman Irani) is a cribbing, grumpy old man who spends all his time by watching the TV on his couch. Rusy’s son, Kayo (Ritvik Sahore) is a talented young cricketer, but his grandfather isn’t much pleased about him playing cricket altogether. Between these conflicts, there is an opportunity for Kayo to break out into a major cricket training schedule in Lords, England.

What ensues this is a throwaway of a lot of entertaining characters doing their parts perfectly and fitting into the mould of the film in a fine way. Out of all, Babbu Didi (Seema Pahwa) comes out as one of the most endearing characters out of the entire ensemble cast. It’s a shame I can’t find her name anywhere. Not even on the internet! Sachin Tendulkar’s apartment guard (Deepak Shirke) and the chauffeur (again, couldn’t find the name) keep you laughing throughout their sequences. The influential father-son duo provide for the comedic melodrama.

The film is entirely based in Bombay, describing what parts of a car are sold in which part of the town, again, entertaining. Ferrari Ki Sawaari wins in bits and pieces and not a single moment tends to get monotonous or unappealing, except for the tad exaggerated depiction of kindness at the end.

Rajesh Mapuskar’s first directorial venture doesn’t give off a rookie feel, job well done. Major props for the casting and the performances of the protagonists along with the aforementioned ensemble cast. The script is elevated by a several notches because of all these binding factors.

Ferrari Ki Sawaari is a delighting watch for that old-school feel good experience, capturing powerful moments along the way.

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

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