Posts Tagged ‘ Ranbir Kapoor ’

Jagga Jasoos

Jagga Jasoos
Release date: July 14, 2017
Directed by: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Saswata Chatterjee, Saurabh Shukla, Sayani Gupta

The audience is unkind, at times even heartless. They don’t care if your film took three years to make, or ten. To pass a nominal litmus test of viewer approval, Jagga Jasoos released this past Friday to not as much shows as you’d expect a potential blockbuster film to do. Perhaps, indicative of the approach of the film, where it greenlights itself straight into musical-mode.

Katrina Kaif, as Shruti, plays the narrator of the story and a journalist in Jagga’s tales of adventures. As she hosts a hall full of children, she sings and recites Jagga’s (Ranbir Kapoor) exploits, and the audience in the cinema hall is treated similarly. Concepts are broken down for the children and viewers to grasp them without letting their mind work or wander. “Is Jagga even real?”, you ask of yourself when Shruti breaks down his life in chapters from a comic anthology.

Right from the get-go, Jagga Jasoos confidently chronicles its protagonist’s journey, with small nods to Harry Potter, as an orphaned, bespectacled Jagga sleeps under a staircase. He doesn’t have a broom tuck between his legs to circumvent the world, but he does have an electric scooter which he rides adeptly on. Little Jagga is too shy to speak, because he stutters. Ironically, he lives in a hospital and is never treated for his speech impediment by the staff who seems to be in love with him, so much so that they let him live on their property ever since the day he was born.

Tooti Footi (Saswata Chatterjee) introduces Jagga to the magical world of singing his words, with rhyme and verse at his disposal, at the behest of some simply brilliant writing. Childhood expositions aren’t supposed to mean much in Bollywood, but this one makes you tear up within the first 30 minutes of the film as little Jagga sings ‘Jhooth, bas jhooth’ when Tooti Footi leaves him at a boarding school.

The overarching plots revolve around international conspiracies, localized militancy, and a boy’s quest to be reunited with his father. As Jagga sings, he becomes a much more self-assured adolescent knockoff of Tintin, reliving his favourite Feluda novels, with his schoolmates. Anurag Basu manages to create a universe that he so ably did in his last outing — Barfi! (2012), a world majorly bereft of texting, mobile phones and also refrains from any dosage of puns or lyrics, consciously written to deliver easy laughs or nudge-winks. With reams of paper that must have been penned while making the film, and I am very sure there must be reams, what the film lacks in a manufactured vibe of tautness, it makes up for in originality, quirk, and simply charming your frowns off with its unadulterated charm.

As the film devolves from an outright musical caper, to more of an action adventure in the post-intermission half, you are welcomed by an incredibly clever piece ‘Nimbu mirchi’ which captures the settling-in chatter of the theatre audiences perfectly, and calls us out for our indifference and irreverence for what goes around us in the real world and in a cinema hall, when we casually display indifference – ‘Humko us se kya?’ – at a blast in Syria, or another brutal gory assault in the city.

The lyrical storytelling reaches its ultimate peak for me, at a birthday party for a dead person, where the ensemble sings in unison, ‘Sab khaanaa kha ke, daru pee ke chale gaye’. And Ranbir captures the philosophy of life in as much singsong fashion.

Anurag makes compromises along the way, as his Jagga sings a little bit less with every passing minute in the “business end” of the things. Chase sequences, elaborate props start substituting moments of genius, to tell a story that goes far away from where it began. But it’s a grand adventure, a comic bestseller, all with meerkats, giraffes, zebras, leopards, fictional African tribes, yearly tips on growing up through VHS tapes by a father to his son, a travelling circus, secret agents, caricaturish comedy sequences and most importantly, conviction.

What makes Jagga Jasoos an experience I will cherish and remember forever are the witty idiosyncrasies, how disabilities are not pity-tear-jerkers, where a bumbling clumsy accomplice isn’t unwanted and most importantly the smile it plastered across my face with its pure passion and a will and heart that can’t and won’t cower, even in the face of real-world meta and in-film difficulties.

The almost three-hour-long runtime of the film benefits greatly from sincere performances from Kapoor, Chatterjee and Saurabh Shukla. But Miss Kaif is as much as part of this brave film as the others. In a lot of content that has been written about the film, she has been dismissed as a Xanax to Ranbir’s cocaine in questions like, “What would have become of the film with a more able actor in place of Katrina?”. In whatever capacity she was initially cast, it’s as much of her film, as it’s any of the other cast members’ film. In some great disservice to her character, there are random dialogue inserts with a dubbing artist’s voice mixed in with her own voice. These inserts are not some chaste Hindu/Urdu couplets, just some completely normal last-minute additions perhaps.

Senior Valecha (yes, my father) made a dad-joke, one that did not take much imagination to woefully rhyme “Jagga Jasoos” with “Hagaa Jasoos”, mentioning the declared hateful verdict of the film on Whatsapp forwards in uncle-groups. The audience is not kind, but Jagga Jasoos surely is. Just like an overwhelming Indian parent with no regard for their child’s privacy or rebellious streak, the film provides with incredible joy, wonder, food (for thought and boxes filled with cakes and treats) and setting us ambitious standards (to look forward to Hindi films of the future)

To borrow from the film, Jagga Jasoos is made from the right-half of the brain, the one which is a little crazy, magical and not necessarily logical.

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

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil
Release date: October 28, 2016
Directed by: Karan Johar
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Lisa Haydon, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Imran Abbas, Fawad Khan

When he’s not making films, in recent years, Karan Johar maintains a certain visibility all around you throughout the year. Be it a dance reality show, a pan-India talent hunt, his own talk show, promoting others’ films on more reality shows and on social media. Even now, as I type this, there’s a marathon of reruns of his talk show’s last season to build up hype for the upcoming new season. The man is literally omnipresent, just like your Gods.

He’s gone on to point out the flaws in his earlier films, and in his last directorial outing as well. He’s also confessed to yanking out the last tear drop out of his viewers’ eyes with his films. In his first film, he fiddled with love and friendship, he placed them together when Rahul says, “Pyaar dosti hai” (Love is friendship) and ironically, casually goes on to dismiss his good friend’s advances for another girl he’s hardly as good of a friend with. In his second, the comparatively smaller set of main and ensemble cast and scale grew in multiples of tens and hundreds, and yet here, another Rahul dismisses a Naina who loves him. Going on to, ugh, ‘friend-zone’ her.

His cast grew even bigger in numbers with his high school musical, and he played around with similar themes. This time around, he has a very small set of characters. Ayan (Ranbir Kapoor) and Alizeh (Anushka Sharma) lay their eyes on each other in a nightclub in London, and proceed to make out, but it doesn’t quite work out and they end up spending the night traversing through different bars around the city and indulging in conversation about anything and everything in between. In an indie film-ish fashion, the film centers heavily around the two of them. They become a part of a complete song-and-dance number in a pub, and yet, go on to poke fun at how actors can dance on mountain tops in sub-zero temperatures. Mind, these are some of the film’s most enjoyable minutes.

Ayan develops feelings of love out of a rapidly growing friendship with Alizeh, but she insists that she values the friendship more than the ephemeral nature of a relationship based on physical attraction to him. She has a tattoo of an ex-boyfriend’s name on her wrist, and points to him as a weakness. She continues to associate a sense of vulnerability to the whole business of love. Things don’t work out how Ayan wants them to, and ends up blocking her on his phone for three months post her wedding.

All through the courtship, the conversations are laced with colloquialisms, informal, and refreshing, sometimes falling back on some cliched moments, but infused with character by their portrayals. The excessive Karan Johar self-referencing seems little too forced even when the protagonists claim to be big fans of Hindi films. Also, the little bit of background music created especially for Lisa Haydon’s character, reminds you of the whole “Miss Braganza” jingle from Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. This isn’t pleasant nostalgia.

Soon, enters Saba (Aishwarya Rai Bachchan), an Urdu poetess who obviously mouths some heavy lines in the language. Her dynamic with Ayan is entirely different. She insists that they let the silences and their eyes do the talking. Alizeh wished on being her lover’s zaroorat (need) and not aadat (habit), Saba is quite the opposite, traditional relationships are passe for her. Both of these women are categorically different, and explore different sides of the same man. Alizeh recounts how she was dealt a child out of a troller, while Saba faced a different man. Their first, and only, interaction with each other, is subtle and dramatic at the same time.

The unending conflict of the film is unrequited love, and the complexities around it. A subject which may involve stalking, physical assault and maybe even an acid attack if the “lover” is too jilted (read as: stupid and destructive). Johar does away with the ugliness of it all, and rather focuses the gaze of the camera on the glossy details. The principal characters are also noticeably self-aware, and even self-deprecating. When Alizeh asks Ayan what kind of rich he is, Johar makes him say that he’s outrageously rich. Saba is nonchalantly accepting of the criticism that her literary works are handed out. Alizeh dismissively shuts off Ayan every time he goes over the top, very cute!

The ladies are interestingly written, even though I can’t recall what Anushka Sharma’s profession is in the film. Right from her arrival, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan holds you by the collar, and playfully fidgets with your shirt buttons, until you sweat bullets and run out of tissues. On the other hand, Ranbir Kapoor is doing the whole man-child shtick for the fourth time in as many years. He acts well, and is probably even the best at being the overgrown version of an irritating teenager. The film is unapologetically glamorous; reflecting Johar’s self-confessed affection for showing good looking people dressed in designer clothes, and still makes them appear empathetic.

Ae Dil Hai Mushkil doesn’t yank out your soul. At the best, it warrants not more than three cries, and that count doesn’t include the climax of the film, at all. AT ALL. With only one proper choreographed dance routine for the stellar soundtrack, the run time of the film remains well-paced for two thirds of the film.

After 155 minutes in the cinema hall, Karan Johar doesn’t leave you with a moral commentary on Indian familial values, or a grim tale of unrequited love. Instead, he’s delivered an enjoyable film with an underbaked final act that leaves you entertained, even though slightly shorthanded. It’s official, KJo is drifting away from his usual style and it’s gonna take him and us both some time to deal with this. ADHM still has the magical mix of his trademark storytelling with conviction combined with magical music going for it.

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

Tamasha

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Tamasha
Release date: November 27, 2015
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Piyush Mishra, Javed Sheikh, Vivek Mushran, Istiyak Khan

Tamasha is not a “rom-com” as you may have been led to believe by any person, living or dead; any source, correct or invalid. If it were just a “love story”, I’d call it lopsided, as I often blame Imtiaz Ali’s constructed romances of being that way. Right from the start of the film, it gives you a lot to chew on: a running gag between a clown and a Tin Man-like robot which soon transcends into a small backstory of one of the film’s protagonists, which is interspersed by flashes of tales that the said protagonist heard from an old storyteller in Shimla.

Then, it’s untidily divided into four chapters. “Teja Ka Sona”, “Ishk Wala Love”, “Andar Ki Baat” and “Don Returns”. Two good looking strangers from India meet each other in Corsica, France. They promise to not reveal their identity or anything about their lives, that they wouldn’t try to chase the other once they’re back in India. The man assumes the name “Don”, after the fictional character played by Amitabh Bachchan in the ’70s. The woman takes off after another popular character from the same era, and calls herself “Mona Darling”. They talk in pop references and chirp on without the possibility of any future between them.

The woman remains to be infatuated with the man, even years after they’ve gone their different ways. She traces him down to his usual bar and introduces herself as Tara (Deepika Padukone) and gets to know his actual name, Ved (Ranbir Kapoor). This man, is quite unlike the Don in Corsica, Tara observes. He looks at the watch every time he leaves her house, yes-mans his way to a successful job, isn’t very interesting at all. He’s almost robotic. Uses the electric toothbrush, washes his car, knots his tie, all in clockwork fashion. None of it is exactly a bad thing per se, it’s just he’s never himself, or as Tara puts it, “Tum koi aur ho“, that he isn’t what he shows.

Tara’s disillusionment with Ved’s changed demeanor triggers the “Don” in him. He lashes out in spurts, going back to his showy, loud and “fun” ways, in the middle of corporate presentations. He gets reprimanded by his boss (Vivek Mushran) and teeters on the verge of losing his job. He doesn’t know what to do.

There’s a whole lotta ‘he’ doing a lot of running and panting after a wedge is driven between her and him. He’s set on a course of self-discovery and self-realization, where interestingly the romantic partner doesn’t feature in extensive long montages. It’s all about him. It isn’t even love for someone else that drives him. That is what differentiates this film from Imtiaz Ali’s other films. Ved is striving to break free from his own partly self-imposed mediocrity. He doesn’t blame anyone, how a younger Ved could have. Perhaps his father, or the society or his entire family. This older Ved doesn’t. He understands that his packaging as a manufactured sales manager has as much to do with himself as well.

The level of acceptance for this man’s antics could depend on your threshold for man-child like behaviour, yet in one of those moments, his conversation with a rickshaw driver (Istiyak Khan) occurs. The whole sequence is simply magical. As a matter of fact, there aren’t many ensemble characters here, just like other Ali films, but Vivek Mushran as the grammatically incorrect boss and Istiyak Khan as the surrendered rickshaw driver pull as much traction as they can with their pitch perfect performances.

Tamasha struggles to keep the balance intact between being a commercial venture and a self-indulgent story. There are songs thrust, just to infuse “life” in the events for the casual viewer. Probably, even to change the flow of the film at a whim. There are exuberant innovative cuts to stories that Ved relates his life situations with, and then there are times when the film obnoxiously gets meta or maybe deliberately dumbs down the proceedings to flash “flashback” in a FLASHBACK sequence.

Deepika Padukone’s natural charisma is ever-so-omnipresent and her chemistry with Kapoor is formidable, yet never fully utilized to extract the pulp out of it. Ranbir Kapoor has the film thrown into his kitty, which he catches quite easily. It’s too much of the same old characterization for him to work his socks off. He mimics Dev Anand very well too, and that is a revelation. His character is hard to emphasize with right until the third act of the film, which doesn’t work in the film’s favor. But hey, who’d wanna see a “whiny, crying loser” for two-thirds of the film?

Flashes of brilliance are aplenty and A.R. Rahman’s compositions are affluent in their short and diverse range. They get Alka Yagnik and Sukhvinder Singh to sing perfectly timed relevant songs! The track with Piyush Mishra as the old storyteller deserves a special mention for itself. You have to watch the film for that.

You could be someone who’s living someone else’s story and waiting for a storyteller to tell you the outcome of your own life’s story, or you could simply write one for yourself. Tamasha could not be a very easy film to like, but it’s got so much to give, packed in its runtime of 155 minutes, it’s not fair to call this a poor film.

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

Bombay Velvet

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Bombay Velvet
Release date: May 15, 2015
Directed by: Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Anushka Sharma, Satyadeep Misra, Manish Chaudhari, Karan Johar, Siddhartha Basu, Kay Kay Menon, Vivaan Shah

In an Anurag Kashyap film, you’re kept at an arm’s length from the characters’ psyche and the choice of their actions. When Faizal Khan finishes off Ramadhir Singh in Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), the emotions evoked are somewhat mixed. Faizal finally gets his revenge, on the other hand, the end of Ramadhir feels saddening. Something similar happens when Definite double crosses Faizal after that. The grief is there, yet it’s hollow.

Bombay Velvet takes the same route to build up its protagonists. There are pointers to different parts of Bombay, the city, but not a single direct “15 years later” flashing on the screen when the mini versions of Balraj and Rosie grow up in a few flashes. Perhaps, the city is supposed to take prominence over the people that it’s made up of. But cities don’t breathe, laugh, cry or love, lust and long; the people do.

The spotlight keeps shifting and shuffling between the city and its highly aspirational inhabitants. Balraj (Ranbir Kapoor) wants to be a “bigshot”, and has a Tyler Durden-esque underground fighter streak to him. Rosie (Anushka Sharma) covets a lot of things and is confused about the right ways of acquiring the said things. The city dreams of becoming India’s first metropolis. The city isn’t even complete, it still dreams of joining the seven islands.

The city is run by Mayor Romi Patel (Siddhartha Basu) and his cronies. Kaizad Khambatta (Karan Johar) wants to be on the list of cronies, and a big share in the pie, that is Bombay’s ‘development’. Jimmy Mistry (Manish Chaudhari) is Khambatta’s ideologically opposed rival, who runs vicious attacks on the self-proclaimed capitalist in his newspaper. Screen time is distributed almost evenly between all four quarters, they’re built well. Only in a very dull and serious tone. Unlike how Kashyap films work.

The humor is sucked out of the film to make space for cliched contrivances, impersonal romantic sequences and beautifully shot Hindi-jazz numbers. The first half sets up all its characters for major things to come, only they can be predicted a good ten minutes before they happen, every time, except for the dooziest con-job involving a bomb blast.

Reliable actors are cast, thus ensuring conviction in the characters they enact. Satyadeep Misra as Balraj’s sidekick Chimman is restrained and calm. Ranbir Kapoor wears his hair like Terry Malloy in On The Waterfront, bears his ugly bruises as a champ, and makes good for a mean hack. Anushka Sharma plays the victimized artiste passionately, a stark contrast of Raveena Tandon’s Dahlia. Rosie is not a diva, she just plays one. Dahlia is a completely self-assured performer.

If Karan Johar is going to pursue the acting gig further, I’m not sure if he can find a better character to play than Kaizad Khambatta. His character is perfectly tailor-made for him, he fits the suave, sophisticated, sinister shades, as well as his impeccably stylish suits do. There are real-life parallels referred to, only in subtle bits and parts. Manish Chaudhari tries hard to be the manic paper editor, and ends up trying a tad too hard.

There are numerous references made/homages paid to the gangster films of Hollywood. Violence from Goodfellas, tommy-gun wielding from Scarface and then there’s Sonal Sawant’s brilliant production design that recreates Bombay in the 60s. Rajeev Ravi’s camera picks up every meticulous detail that Sawant gets in the frame. Amit Trivedi enthuses yet another stellar OST and riveting background score that outmatches the action on screen.

The scale and stage of the film is so large, you wonder if it should hang in the balance by a flimsy screenplay, just how the future of the city in the film is going to be determined by a flimsy negative of a photo film. Not the best obtained output from all its entered resources, yet not completely squandered either.

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

Roy

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Roy
Release date: February 13, 2015
Directed by: Vikramjit Singh
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Jacqueline Fernandez, Ranbir Kapoor, Shernaz Patel, Shibani Dandekar, Rajit Kapur, Anupam Kher

Crying babies and ringing mobile phones are an avid cinema viewer’s worst nightmare. There was one crying baby right behind me when I went in to watch Roy. I feared how it would ruin my whole movie experience. In the initial few scenes, I do admit to be disturbed by the shrieking and weeping of the kid.

As the film progressed, the baby was the least of my concerns.

Placed between heavy articulated and glossy ‘artsy’ sceneries, Roy is supposedly a romantic-thriller that offers absolutely no thrill or enduring romance. Kabir (Arjun Rampal) is an unchallenged filmmaker who rambles about some robbery on a talk show and that robbery is forcibly woven into a fictional character’s existence. The said fictional character is Roy, created by Kabir for his hit film franchise.

Kabir is incredibly pretentious and right until the end, he has no redeemable qualities to build any affinity or sympathy for him. He starts writing his next film’s script after fixing the cast and crew. There is a very pointless conversation about ‘inspiration’ with his father (Anupam Kher is wasted as the father here.) Once inspired, on the sets of his film, he meets Ayesha (Jacqueline Fernandez) who is also a filmmaker, except she’s an “intellectual”; which just means that she wears reading glasses and read books with a glass of wine in her hand. Some love involuntarily happens, some parallel track with Ayesha’s lookalike keeps developing. Will you care? Nope.

Kabir is said to have had 22 casual flings before he meets Ayesha, and then by some god-knows-what wizardry, he falls in ‘love’ with Ayesha. There is no insight on why he feels like how he does, no reasoning for why he was a complete douchebag before his heartbreak. The alternative parallel track has Kabir playing out moments from his real life in a cinematic manner, through the eyes of his film’s protagonist. He keeps incorporating events from his life into Roy’s life. The ‘smart’ Ayesha also breaks into rambunctious Hindi filmish song-and-dance too!

The relationships between Kabir and Ayesha, and Roy and Tia are shown to be the headlining points of the film, yet there’s virtually nothing between their conversations that should keep you interested in the proceedings. The characters mouth philosophical lines about, often ending these lines abruptly. Is it done to create a sense of mystery around them, I asked myself at various junctures, only to realize that there is nothing on offer.

In a certain scene, Kabir says to his assistant/deputy that he hasn’t even started writing the screenplay of a film which he’s just days away from shooting. This confession seems increasingly true as Roy (the film) keeps meandering directionless. No actor has any material to chew into, only stylish clothes to wear and exotic locations to roam around.

There is not a single indication of what the actual conflict of the film is, or what the payoff can possibly be. There are no real obstacles to conquer. There is absolutely nothing here. Just a bunch of well-dressed people playing “Let’s make a hollow film but just pretend to be serious about it.”

Ever come across someone who keeps talking in riddles, and those mindbenders have no clear answers or a purpose? If Roy–the film– were a person, it would be just like that. After the halfway mark, I couldn’t care about the crying baby because I was numbed with the constant frustration induced by the constant stream of garbage on screen.

My rating: ½ (0.5 out of 5)

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani

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Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani
Release date: May 31, 2013
Directed by: Ayan Mukherji
Cast: Deepika Padukone, Ranbir Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin, Dolly Ahluwalia, Aditya Roy Kapur, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Evelyn Sharma, Poorna Jagannathan, Faarooq Shaikh, Tanvi Azmi

A romcom about four youngsters transcending mountains, weddings and lavish costumes is what Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani appears to be from the outside. And that’s what it pretty much is.

Bunny/Kabir Thapad (Ranbir Kapoor) wants to be a globetrotter, while his friends: Aditi (Kalki Koechlin) and Avi (Aditya Roy Kapur) don’t have a set goal except for livin’ it up. On a chance meeting with the vagrantish Aditi, Naina (Deepika Padukone) who is an eternal nerd realizes what she’s been missing out on. She joins them on a trek to Manali and tries to fit in with the rambunctious trio.

And as normal people with normal hormones, there’s an attraction between the characters here as well. Only they are lopsided. Bunny decides to take a major step towards fulfilling his dreams and moves out for further studies. How all of them change and if they can reconnect after a period of eight years form the remaining tale.

The writers aim to accomplish quite a few stories here, as it always is with films with such number of leading characters. Bunny’s non-conformance to a regular lifestyle, Aditi’s suppressed feelings and her subsequent transformation, Avi’s refusal to accept his old friend, and Naina’s need to enjoy the smaller joys of life. The film’s pace is indulgent and perhaps dampening to its mood.

Ranbir and Kalki are in fine form, except for her jarred introduction. Even the smaller roles, like that of Kunaal Roy Kapur as the bumbling Taran and Faarooq Shaikh as Bunny’s father add to the narrative. Special mention for Deepika Padukone who simply looks, walks and moves like a cliche million bucks. I couldn’t comprehend for a few hours if I could ever complete this review without getting an anxiety attack while reconstructing her scenes and songs. Oh yes, the songs! They are aplenty and baffling given their length. Albeit colorful and entertaining, the dance numbers’ presence in such a capacity cannot be justified.

Also all of  Ranbir’s scenes have a ‘grand introductory scene’ like feel to them. Maybe not all of them, but a lot of them. The lines are witty and liberally funny. Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is shot beautifully, it lacks that finish which would have made it a more complete experience. I am not saying YJHD is not enjoyable and fun, it’s just that it could have been *that* bit better.

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

P.S. Evelyn Sharma’s unabashed hotness.
P.P.S. The P.S. deserves to be in this review goddammit!

Bombay Talkies

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Bombay Talkies
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Karan Johar, Dibakar Banerjee, Zoya Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap
Cast: Rani Mukherji, Randeep Hooda, Saqib Saleem, Shivkumar Subramaniam, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Sadashiv Amrapurkar, Shubhangi Bhujbal, Naman Jain, Ranvir Shorey, Vineet Kumar, Sudhir Pandey

To type a personal paragraph(s) on what I love about films or not to type: that is the question.

Indian cinema, since its inception in 1913 has come a long way. Be it technically or professionally, whether it has made advancement in telling contemporary stories in a hard hitting fashion is not to be passed upon here. Bombay Talkies tries going in for the latter parameter and that is why you should love the film in its entirety for.

There are four directors with their own separate films, not all of them exactly revolving around cinema’s impact on us, but taking on different characters’ struggles and individual tales of varying emotions. The first one is Karan Johar’s film hedlining Rani, Randeep and the fresh Saqib from Mere Dad Ki Maruti. It starts off with a pumped up confrontational opening and his camera chasing Saqib.

With a style uncharacteristic to his, Johar maneuvers a telling tale of dysfunctional relationships and the society’s collective inability of accepting things as they are. He operates in a urban setting with the idealistic middle class mentality and equates it to the high classes’ apparent double standards. The actors save the plot from becoming clunky at times.

Dibakar Banerjee explores the chawls of Mumbai, where his protagonist (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) has a pet emu named Anjali. Oh how I love his subtle comedy! Nawazuddin plays an uninspired actor and a failed businessman (sic) with limited means to support his family. It’s his apparent gumption and the inner battles that form this amusing feature.

Sadashiv Amrapukar comes out of his spiritual and literal dumpsters to give him a reality check, obviously laced with good lines. It’s the ending that simply transcends into another dimension of its own. It is divine, fulfilling and succulent. The detailing is so brilliant along with Nawaz’s simmering performance, you rejoice every moment of his swaggering presence.

Post interval, Zoya Akhtar follows up with her story of a small family whose patriarch wants his son to get ‘tough’ by making him attend football sessions in school by sacrificing the daughter’s allowance for a history trip. The boy is enamored by Katrina Kaif and wants to emulate her dance performances in his fantasyland.

The approach for establishing plot devices is a bit faulty and rushed at times, but what Akhtar captures beautifully is the sibling’s relationship. It’s a simple I-look-your-back-you-look-mine one, but it’s charming, delightful and uh, heartwarming! Kaif delivers a special message in a fairy outfit and that is an added incentive to the joyful end of this film.

Indians love their films and they worship their actors with reverence and treat them as an abstract family member. Kashyap’s film is just about that. A son carries a jar of Murabba for his father’s idol (Amitabh Bachchan) to Mumbai. The reasoning for this task is what crazy fan fictions are made up of. Vineet Kumar plays the Bachchan obsessed Sudhir Pandey’s son Vijay.

He makes his trip to Mumbai from Allahabad to realize there are just a two dozen strong other Vijays hanging outside Bachchan’s house, awaiting their chance to have a few moments with The Man. Again, the finish scene with Kumar’s return to his father is purely frolicky.

Karan Johar and Anurag Kashyap work a dark and cheery screenplay respectively; not their customary styles, which could cause some disappointments or surprise among their loyal viewers who could be expecting something more of the usual. I count it as one of the film’s strengths and a welcome change.

Altogether, Bombay Talkies is a great tribute that doesn’t focus on being one. And that is why it turns out to be so good.

My rating: **** (4 out of 5 stars) 

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