Posts Tagged ‘ Randeep Hooda ’

Not Exactly a Highway Review

highway-poster
Highway
Release date: February 21, 2014
Directed by: Imtiaz Ali
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Randeep Hooda

This isn’t an outright review of Highway. Then why have I started this post just like a review? Because that’s how I wanted it to be. In this absurd sabbatical of sorts, I’ve seen Hasee Toh Phasee and Gunday. HTP was an incredibly enjoyable film and Parineeti Chopra surely showed off all her talents. Then Gunday had so much promise even for a slambang masala entertainer, but it didn’t live up to it.

Why am I writing about other films in a post about Highway? Just to let my all-so-important opinions stay etched here, if either of those two films gets featured on the Best100 or Worst100.

Imtiaz Ali’s films, except for Jab We Met, have left me disappointed. I always witness a graph, a potential for greatness, but the eventual mishmash of umpteen ingredients has left me slighted every time. Entering the cinema hall for Highway had me on the fringe already, I wasn’t expecting a completely perfect film at all.

So Highway starts off with footage from a personal wedding videotape, Veera (Alia Bhatt) is about to get married. From one influential family to the other, that’s how she feels about her marriage. She asks her fiance to take her out for a secret drive. She wants to breathe in the country. During their ride back home, at a petrol pump, she ends up getting tagged along with [kidnapped by] Mahabeer Bhati (Randeep Hooda) and his gang.

Mahabeer has unknowingly picked her up. Like a true Jat (or more like an internetphile defending all his self-righteous views), he defends his mistake. His first mark is that of a hardened criminal who is remorseless and unflinching in even firing a bullet just to make a point. Mahabeer and Veera are different like chalk and cheese. But even chalk and cheese are connected by a thin lineage of calcium and its compounds. Calcium here is a central theme of trauma.

Highway uses the Stockholm Syndrome gimmick only to an extent. There is a reciprocation of those feelings by the captor here. Alia’s character is given the Manic Pixie Dream Girl treatment initially, but thankfully her character shows some purpose and a sense of importance eventually. I was pleasantly surprised by the absence of any song-dance numbers in the first half of the film. Running just about an hour, the before-interval is extremely taut.

Veera’s confession of her demons and fears didn’t evoke the expected emotions from me, as she keeps doing shocking 180 degree turns, coming off as unstable and unsettled. Which was then resolved by the scene where she says to him, “Jahaan se tum mujhe laaye ho main wahaan vaapas nahin jaanaa chaahti. Jahaan bhi le jaa rahe ho wahaan pahunchna nahi chaahti. Par ye raasta, ye bahut achcha hai, main chaahti hun ki ye raasta kabhi khatam na ho.” –this was the point where she emits clarity. From this point onward, it was all Alia for me.

A common complaint that I have with almost 90 per cent of love stories in cinema, to which Silver Linings Playbook is a rare exception, is that the said love between the characters isn’t allowed to flourish, nurture or grow. And I noticed this complaint being raised against Highway as well, to which I strongly disagree. The latent attraction here between the protagonists isn’t physical, it doesn’t harbor on sex slavery, it’s just simple. Simply human. Veera talks to Mahabeer like no one else ever has. No matter how disturbing it may be for him, it captivates him nonetheless.

The use of montages to create a backstory or sympathy at times comes off jarring at first, but the final one, with Veera and Mahabeer’s pasts striding down the hills together is purely moving. The visual imagery of the Himalayas, the barren deserts, and the infinite roads is awe-inspiring, Anil Mehta finely captures them along with Randeep’s scruffy appearance and Alia’s complexity.

For me, what matters more in a film is its ability to make you weep/wail or even just feel a lump in your throat than its ability to make you smile. Unquestionably, making viewers laugh is a Herculean task in itself, and making them cry might even be easier owing to their lowered inhibitions in the darkness of a cinema hall. Highway did both the things for me. Even in a moment where you’re supposed to cry, you won’t help smiling (re: final shot of the film). Again, this wasn’t purely a review. Don’t piss on me if I’ve divulged any vital plot points inadvertently.

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

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Bombay Talkies

Bombay_Talkies_2013_Poster
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) 

Heroine


Heroine
Release date: September 21, 2012
Directed by: Madhur Bhandarkar
Cast: Kareena Kapoor, Arjun Rampal, Randeep Hooda, Govind Namdeo, Harsh Chhaya, Shahana Goswami, Mugdha Godse, Sanjay Suri< Rashmi Nigam, Lillete Dubey, Ranvir Shorey, Helen, and a few Bhandarkar regular junior extras.

Stereotypical gay characters, the usual “You bastard” utterances from the female lead, and extreme portrayals of every circumstance are what you expect from a Bhandarkar film. And you do get them! But there’s obviously more nails in the coffin of this ‘heroine’. (All the pun in the Bhandarkar universe intended)

Heroine is a tale of a delusional and insecure actress Mahi Arora (Kareena Kapoor) who’s struggling with her professional and personal life alike. But hey, there HAVE to be sidetracks that don’t mean anything to the narrative of the film. So Mugdha Godse plays some Riya Mehra who is also a rising ‘heroine’ and somehow you get a bisexual male director/producer in an after-coitus scene with a guy who just has three syllables in his verbatim, i.e. bro, dude and babes. He also delivers a line about how the zipper of one’s pants and lips should always remain carefully locked in the movie industry. WOW.

Mahi has a small support staff of three people on the move: an overtly gay fashion designer, a bitchy good-for-nothing-does-nothing friend Rats, and a secretary Rashid bhai (Govind Namdeo) This support staff appears and disappears with no reasoning and logic when our protagonist’s life is hit by hard times. But she still has a personal bar, iPhone, Blackberry, beautiful apartment and a bartender-cum-cook-cum-cleaner-cum-human-robot. If you’re troubled by my use of hyphens in that sentence, that’s how I felt while watching this film.

The caricatures never end. There are tons of inward pointed controversies picked upon here. Almost every controversy EVER! Ranvir Shorey plays an independent small time film director Tarun and gives Mahi achance to act in his first Hindi feature. Here Mahi is in a state of breakdown and in the process of getting back up. Oh wait, she’s always in a state of breakdown. Shahana Goswami tries to guide Kareena’s character to bring out her inner passion for ‘acting’ and slips into a small lesbian sequence. By the way, we have a new symbolic reference for two ladies making out in our films now, it’s two glasses of wine kept together and the women pass on to the bedroom. I hope the gay men don’t complain cos there’s finally a lesbian and bisexual reference as well.

Heroine is a compilation of the worst possible scenarios from different real stories all rolled into one. Nothing good happens. I’ll have to pick out one, for the sheer idiocy of it – Mahi is in the middle of a big spiral downwards and she reaches at an orphanage to adopt a child. Sushmita Sen won’t like it. And I’d advise all of you to contemplate on adopting a child whenever you’re staring into a deep abyss of financial instability and mental trauma. Helen plays out Shgufta, a yesteryear actress who ALSO tries to guide Mahi.

Kareena’s character never really grows with you to make you feel any kind of pain or sympathy whatsoever, because she’s been screaming and screeching right from the start. Heroine remains immature, crass, unrealistic and even stupid at some points. Unrealistic because it just encapsulates every goddamn issue/controversy/hardship that anyone has ever faced in the movie industry in the form of a handful of people.

Heroine is so bad I’m falling short of adjectives to tell you how Bhandarkar it is.

My rating: * (1 out of 5)

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