Posts Tagged ‘ Ram Sampath ’

Raman Raghav 2.0

Raman-Raghav-2.0-Poster

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)

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)

Celluloid Man

celluloid-man-poster
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)

Talaash

Talash poster
Talaash
Release date: November 30, 2012
Directed by: Reema Kagti
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shernaz Patel, Raj Kumar Yadav

Chronicling the length and breadth of Mumbai on a usual evening in the city, colourful shots of twinkling lights and sea waves and ending the opening titles with a junkie smoking by the roadside who looks on as an actor’s car has a weird crash. This is how Talaash’s pace is set right at the start.

From there on, the talaash (search) for the reasons that caused a freakish mishap begins. As pieces of the impending mystery start piecing together, Inspector Surjan Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) realizes it wasn’t just a one-off accident. There are no obvious pointers to the regular drunken driving incidents as well. There are a lot of layers on the entire case. Surjan has a few personal and family issues too. As he publicly accepts, his wife Roshni (Rani Mukherji) is inflicted by a problem, he doesn’t quite figure out that it’s he who needs to ease up his knots.

As his interrogation leads him to further witnesses and more evidence, he’s acquainted with Rosy (Kareena Kapoor) who is a prostitute. Her character is so well-etched (never mind a few cliche lines) it brings the required mystique and adds another dimension to the characters she interacts with, including the drab and dreary Surjan. It’s these interactions that hold and release much of the pressure, but the same distracts from the actual search into the inner battles of our protagonists.

Talaash depends on a strong belief of the writers and the director, but the same beliefs could not go down well with many viewers who are looking for a hard-hitting totally realistic thriller. Sure, the imagery with beautiful shots prove that the camera work is impeccable. The persistent problem is of the path that the makers have chosen to demystify the story. After a point, you realize what’s happening and you don’t have to wait anymore to hang onto the edge of your seat.

The music is exemplified by the opening and haunting Muskaanein Jhoothi Hain, there are two more full fledged songs, out of which one looks like a square peg in the circle hole. But it’s not too painful. Rani and Aamir bring the poised demureness needed for their characters, while Kareena is simply indulging and enjoyable in all her moments with her seductive charm. The ensemble cast of Nawazuddin as a crippled shady guy Teimur , Raj Kumar Yadav as a junior to Inspector Surjan and Shernaz Patel as the creepy neighbour are all good.

Overall, Talaash is an attempt at classic suspense but a bit lost in the shuffle of letting every character attain closure and answers to their inherent questions. It borders on being a smart film and a thrown opportunity.

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

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