Posts Tagged ‘ Saurabh Shukla ’

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)

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)

David

david-poster
David
Release date: February 1, 2012
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Neil Nitin Mukesh, Vikram, Vinay Virmani, Tabu, Isha Sharvani, Nasser, Shweta Pandit, Sheetal Menon, Monica Dogra, Milind Soman, Saurabh Shukla, Akarsh Khurana, Satish Kaushik, Vinod Sherawat, Rohini Hattangadi, Nishan

David is a film set around three disjoint lives with the same name, i.e. David. Spanning across three different timelines and environments. London in 1975, Bombay in 1999 and Goa in 2010, the name is retained along with fluid, gripping and entertaining character storylines.

Neil Nitin Mukesh’s David is based in London during the ’70’s. Ghani (Akarsh Khurana) is a hardcore Muslim extremist with an influential clout. David is Ghani’s  son-like protege, who has been with him ever since he was a little boy. David’s spent his entire life learning Ghani’s ways and as a part of his family. Noor (Monica Dogra) is David’s love interest and there’s binding chemistry between them. Soon there’s a bounty on the warlord’s head and there are some consequential decisions to be made.

Vinay Virmani is the David from Bombay, in the year 1999. He is a struggling guitarist-cum-vocalist who’s quite the young rebel with his taunts and small jabs aimed at his father Pastor Noel (Nasser) and his preaching ways. Sheetal Menon and Shweta Pandit play their roles as David’s sisters and provide for a balancing foil between the two male horizons of the family. Noel helps out the poor and oppressed of his locality, and eventually falls prey to a Hindu right wing political party’s manipulative tactics.

Vikram is the third David of this line and he’s situated in Goa in the year 2010. He has been left at the altar on his wedding day, thereby turning him into a drunkard. Frenny (Tabu) is the only one who sympathizes with him in the entire village. She doles out advice to David and he claims her to be one of the only two women he can tolerate. Peter (Nishan) is his partner in their fishing business. He plans on marrying the mute-and-deaf Roma (Isha Sharvani) so that he can get a boat in return as a gift from her parents. Love strikes its arrow and there are muddled mutual feelings involved, or so David thinks because of Roma’s disability.

Each story has its own flavor but yet at the end, they connect with a simple message of letting go. Be it anger, hate or love. The Goan David provides for a fun breather between the grim and dark Londoner David and the constantly moving Bombayite David. The camerawork is nearly immaculate with a neo-noir depiction of the gangster tale, the urbane settings of Mumbai and easy on the eye and pleasing in Goa. The background score combined with the music is refreshingly vivid and suiting.

There are so many characters, each with their own traits, that blend in with the changing moods of the narrative. Lara Dutta and Saurabh Shukla’s cameos are particularly special. Monica Dogra’s dialogue delivery was very good given the heavy Urdu diction of that entire traditional Muslim arrangement. Except for one place, I won’t specify it though. The relationship between Tabu and Vikram’s characters is also a welcomed one, it’s not the usual lovey-dovey one, but it’s an essential one. The three protagonists are very fitting in their individual performances. Also, Akarsh Khurana’s Ghani also delivers a special mention.

All in all, David as a film, is a winner. The innovative storytelling, visuals, characters and writing are brilliantly manifested in Bejoy Nambiar’s magnum opus of sorts. I’d watch it again, you should watch it too.

My rating: **** (4 stars)

Inkaar

Inkaar Poster
Inkaar
Release date: January 18, 2013
Directed by: Sudhir Mishra
Cast: Chitrangada Singh, Arjun Rampal, Deepti Naval, Vipin Sharma, Shivani Tanksale, Mohan Kapoor

The premise of a corporate fixture that has a serious accusation of sexual harassment lingering is quite interesting in itself. Throw in some confusing emotions between the victim and accused in it and you have a muddled plot.

Rahul Verma (Arjun Rampal) is an established advertising professional and while at an ad award function he spots Maya Luthra (Chitrangada Singh) She’s a newbie copywriter with a headstrong approach to her job. Their first encounter gets off of a more of a condescending note where Rahul tells Maya that her ad didn’t deserve any award since it didn’t focus much on the product. Soon he starts mentoring her and there is the harmless flirting turning into something more than that.

The relationship that they share becomes complicated with the commitment issues and trust problems forcing the protagonists to separate their paths. When Maya returns, she’s much refined and more goal-oriented than ever. Also engaged to another ad executive who lives in the States. Rahul’s stand over her return remains dubious with his residual feelings coming off as competitive and ego hassles.

The film runs as a background to the sexual harassment investigations held by an independent social worker (Deepti Naval) assisted by other employees of the same firm. The eventual incident which causes the stir is revealed much later in the second half thereby progressing the story between the leads. There are uncomfortable closeups, probably to cause that discomfort that the characters face. But there are moments that perhaps don’t go with the overall look and the feel of the film resulting in overdoing cinematographic gimmicks at many junctures.

The ensemble cast of Vipin Sharma as the sleazy Gupta and Shivani Tanksale as the suspecting co-employee along with Mohan Kapoor perform well, but again there are things that happen out of turn and for no significance. NOT TO FORGET: Saurabh Shukla’s atrocious lipsync to a rock number in hiphoppish attire. Also the dependence on Kanwaljit Singh’s character as Rahul’s dad to sneak out a moral high ground seems weak.

Though many would not agree with the movie’s ending, I, on the other hand find it somewhat reasonable. The message that the makers are trying to put forth is that of maybe acting on instinct and morally right decisions. Though all of this doesn’t make up for the clunky and patchy design of the film.

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

The Last Act

The Last Act poster
The Last Act
Release date: December 14, 2012
Directed by: Asmit Pathare, Nitin Bhardwaj, Tathagata Singha, Nijo – Rohit, Tejas Joshi, Jagannathan Krishnan, Kabir Chowdhry, Nitye Sood, Varun Chowdhury, Anurag Goswami, Rohin V, Himanshu Tyagi

For the uninitiated, this film revolves around a murder and is directed by 13 first-timers, they build their own sequences and piece them together at the end. And as the poster suggests, the story starts from a dead body which is suspected to be of a murder victim’s.

There’s a trail of evidence that leads them to twelve different cities: Mumbai, Kalyan, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Hissar, Chandigarh, Pune, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Gwalior and Delhi. Every city has a different flavor and a different story that leads to more revelations, related/unrelated to the main mystery. Each story shows the distinctive directorial approaches. For example, the running handheld camera in Hissar, the view from a scooter-rider’s shoulder in Ghaziabad, the simple hilarity of Pune, Kolkata and Kalyan, or the darker shades of Chandigarh. Bangalore and Chennai may seem like filler, but Gwalior, Lucknow and Delhi show us Indian Sherlock Holmes in their finite landscapes of police stations. Mumbai is where the Last Act unfolds and it surely leaves a mark.

Characterizations are near perfect with their realistic depiction of the Indian metropolitan and suburban working class. There are small moments and major hints all along the narrative, often disclosing other comparatively smaller crimes that go unnoticed under he roots of corruption and negligence. If you have the attention span of a butterfly then this won’t be easy viewing for you, there’ll be questions unanswered whenever you slow down and you better buck up for a lot of exhaustive storytelling.

The Last Act could set a standard or it could sink, but it’s unusually entertaining and fun in its own grimy way. The only nagging point for the casual viewer could be the questions that they don’t get exact or sufficient answers to.

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

Barfi!


Barfi
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Directed by: Anurag Basu
Cast: Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Ileana D’cruz, Saurabh Shukla, Ashish Vidyarthi

Amateurish mime, fun rides along the inner scenic regions of Darjeeling and tests of friendship are what Barfi! is laced with. The film moves from Darjeeling to mainstream Kolkata (Calcutta) in the ’70s, thereby creating a young independent India developing in its technology and outlook. But hey, this isn’t a lesson in history, Barfi! is an amalgamation of simple emotions contrived in a heartwarming motion picture.

Murphy or Barfi (Ranbir Kapoor) as he is fondly referred to, is a deaf-mute youngster who never falls short of ways to make his charm work. Murphy shares a pure connection with his father Rajbahadur which is nothing but purely frolic. Barfi asks his dad to stop guzzling on a bottle of Old Monk Rum and then sneaks the same bottle into his bed. He also has a unique way of ascertaining his friends’ loyalty towards him.

Shruti (Ileana D’Cruz) is an engaged young woman,  about to be married in the next three months but yet to grasp the arrival of a man in her life. In a fun encounter, she gets acquainted with Barfi and soon a friendship develops between the two. The pair of friends go on their own small adventures where Shruti tries to make the most of her single days by making late-night escapes to gallop on a horse. The loss for words between them never makes a short for feelings. But the inevitable fate doesn’t change its track and soon things go on their own predetermined paths.

Jhilmil (Priyanka Chopra) is the third generation offset of the affluent Chatterji household. She struggles with autism and that’s reason enough for her negligent wealth-drunk parents to avoid her. Jhilmil is admitted to a house for the disabled where she finds some real affection and care even though at a price. Circumstances force some things on all of our protagonists and now Jhilmil is with Barfi.

Barfi! (Here, the film) is what happens in the sub-plots and the overlaying sidetracks. There are so many powerful moments with a varied range of emotions casting their impact simultaneously that you simply cannot hold your tears or your smile. Barfi! plays on the disabilities of its main characters and concentrates on their special abilities, you almost never care about the dialogues.

The story shows how everyone deserves a second chance and how ‘unconditional’ love should be actually unconditional and oblivious of the repercussions: economic, social or whatsoever. Already much has been said about Barfi!’s melodious soundtrack, but the accordion-violin band players in the narrative of the film along with the silent comic scenes pay a tribute to Charlie Chaplin. For the casual viewer, the length of the film might prove to be a bit long. But if you live with the characters, you’ll never want to leave your seat.

Barfi! adds another accolade in Anurag Basu’s list and heavily decorating Ranbir, Priyanka and Ileana’s acting credentials. Barfi! is a must watch for its rich tribute to film making and textured simple human emotions.

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

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