Posts Tagged ‘ Shah Rukh Khan ’

Dear Zindagi

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Dear Zindagi
Release date: November 25, 2016
Directed by: Gauri Shinde
Cast: Alia Bhatt, Yashaswini Dayama, Ira Dubey, Shah Rukh Khan, Angad Bedi, Kunal Kapoor, Ali Zafar

In one of the myriad marketing campaigns before its release, the film’s protagonist Kaira’s character was pushed as a ‘verified’ profile on a dating mobile application. All with a descriptive bio about her profession, likes and pet peeves, and pretty stills of Alia Bhatt from Dear Zindagi. Perhaps, in a bid to humanize her on-screen persona, unlike the “heroines” of the past, where a constant effort was made to sanitize and idolize the woman, as an object of desire and worship.

Gauri Shinde’s Kaira (Alia Bhatt) is a cinematographer with fluttering romantic interests, and a remarkable ability to disconnect from these men when they tend to get “serious”. After one of her another shocking departures from a dishy manbun sporting Raghavendra (Kunal Kapoor), Jackie (a charming Yashaswini Dayama) lectures her in an inebriated stupor on how he was the ideal ‘match’ for her. Creating a verbal checklist of qualities that she saw in him, only 2% of the world’s population is good-looking, why would Kaira want to give up on someone who’s in that precious creamy layer.

Of course, Kaira doesn’t have definite answers for her actions, her reasons still unfounded. After being on a momentary career high, things come crashing down for her, thus forcing her to get back to her parents in Goa. Her friends call her the world’s only person who’s averse to the idea of a trip to this Indian beach-haven. Once there, she is faced with exaggerated shaming and cornered into submitting into a wedlock, she continues to act out like a rebelling teenager and a part disgusted young, rich adult. Texts filled with hate, multiple exclamation marks, she types and backspaces before hitting the send button; bottling all her angst for an ex, a landlord, and another ex.

Faced with sleepless nights, she chances upon a gig for a family acquaintance’s hotel, that’s coincidentally hosting a mental health awareness summit. As she waits for the summit to end, she makes light of the serious medicinal jargon being spewn inside. Enters Dr Jehangir Khan (Shah Rukh Khan) in his torn jeans and a scoop-neck t-shirt under his hoodie. Fascinated by his ‘different’ approach towards the business of secrecy and whispers around Rorschach tests, Kaira decides to start seeing him for therapy.

After an elaborate build-up, commences the most fulfilling and, simultaneously, cliche sequence of therapy where Khan repeats lines that we may have come across in TV shows, novels, and even agony-aunt columns in newspapers/magazines. But then, it hasn’t ever been Shah Rukh Khan telling us why we need to date people, opting out of very complex situations, and not letting our past blackmail our present into ruining our future, the pulp of Indian Uncle Whatsapp forwards. His character’s wit still subdued from that of his personal and public high-standards, yet as mature as a wise and accomplished fifty one year old.

Kaira’s development from flagging off her sessions by the classic “I’m asking this for a friend.” and evolving into letting off details of her anxieties and insecurities, slowly, is the fruit of Khan’s casual approach to his job. Not sure how many real shrinks would take their patients on long walks on the beaches of Goa; though, a comfortably-dressed Khan playing Kabaddi with the waves is endearing. The grandeur of a superstar doesn’t take away sheen from what is Alia Bhatt’s virtual diary. After Udta Punjab, she is back to playing a rich-kid, albeit with an underlying professional ambition, to reduce the shine from her character’s economical affluence, only slightly.

She settles into the skin of Kaira, a frustratingly confused millennial, haunted by a fear of abandonment from deep-rooted emotional upheavals. Her character’s journey is complete with a graph of metamorphosis, a little too good to be true, and a song-and-dance flourish to top off the film with a traditional cherry, when it consistently takes the path of being “off-beat”, where even the cliffhanging point of an intermission is also punctuated by a lack of any real conflict.

A trade-off between commercial filmmaking and a settled indie approach is thus achieved. The chopping of the loose flab of commercial celluloid cellulite could have easily rendered a tauter, and an equally relevant film about mental health issues, and the stigma attached to it, in a Hindi film universe, where we still continue to portray mental asylums as either pits of hell filled with delinquents possessed by spirits, or just sparingly exploited for comic relief.

In a society that continuously awards a person who shuts the lid on their vulnerabilities, Dear Zindagi asks us to be accepting of our life’s miseries as openly as we put ourselves out there in a dating pool with billions of other people, hoping to be that one snowflake who captures the imagination of the most right-swipes.

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

Fan

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Fan
Release date: April 15, 2016
Directed by: Maneesh Sharma
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Amin, Yogendra Tiku, Waluscha De Sousa, Shriya Pilgaonkar, Sayani Gupta

First up, there will be people on the internet telling you that this film is inspired by The Fan (1996), and someone might even go as far as claiming that it’s ripped off from Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train (1951), just to get a sensationalist reaction. The 1996 film itself was very loosely based on a 1981 horror film titled, again, The Fan. 

All of the Fan films have a celebrity obsessed fan and the said celebrity at the heart of the plot. Each of the respective storylines depict the fan’s obsession taking a life of its own, and thereby lending a tinge of an antagonistic shade to him when he tries to put himself in the celebrity’s life. The similarities end here. Habib Faisal and Maneesh Sharma turn the basic concept on its head by making use of the Celebrity Junior/Senior lore and giving it a relatable flavor. The “junior” is a fan who impersonates the celebrity that he’s crazy about, going as far as earning a livelihood out of the whole shtick. There are competitions that are aimed at honoring the best junior, or as some would say, the best duplicate (of the star).

Gaurav Chandna is the twinkle-eyed youngster, who has a million cutout pictures of his “God” Aryan Khanna, a Bollywood superstar seemingly past his prime. Gaurav isn’t just an admirer of his acting work, he’s a follower of everything that he does, be it an interview from Khanna’s early days, or his latest fight with a contemporary actor. He emulates his mannerisms, and even his charm off screen. Just like his God, Gaurav also does this only on the stage in talent contests. In his routine life, he’s just another ordinary Delhi boy. He can’t get good grades in college, he can’t woo a girl he has feelings for, quite unlike Aryan’s on-screen persona which he seems to imbibe and worship.

After winning the local talent hunt contest for the bazillionth time, he decides to gift his trophy to Khanna on his birthday in Mumbai. Gaurav is a likeable character with his chirpy demeanor and a permanent joie de vivre; the obsessive layers underneath start to unravel when he does a mini life-threatening stunt while insisting to travel ticketless on the train to Mumbai, just because that is how Khanna began his career. Some of what he does is sweet, even endearing. This enjoyable universe becomes darker when Gaurav doesn’t know where to draw a line between being a good one-sided lover and a lover who feels wronged when his attraction isn’t reciprocated.

Fan provides a constant parallel commentary on the over-interfering and overbearing interest in a celebrity’s life, and the plastic psyche of a star who would go to any lengths to be liked by everyone in the world. One of the film’s most masterful moments is when Gaurav mocks Aryan for repeatedly attributing all his success to his fans, and then later in a press conference Aryan pulls back on his urge to repeat the same favorite cliche. Amongst many firsts that the film manages to achieve, it also becomes one of the only films to be shot at Madame Tussauds in London. The whole sequence in the wax museum is a little exaggerated to be easily believed in, but it has a hilarious millisecond frame of a Salman Khan wax model standing spectator to a situation which could have easily done with some vigilance by an action hero of any kind.

While that’s just a first in aesthetic vanity or marketing, the most commendable first is Shah Rukh Khan’s casting as the 20-something super-fan and the 50-something super-star. Of course, he’s wearing prosthetic makeup and his face is 3D scanned, but the man underneath is the same Khan who has to juggle between an almost autobiographical character and a boy who keeps jumping as if he’s on an invisible trampoline throughout the film. Gaurav is creepy, Aryan is cocky. Gaurav is naive, Aryan is mature. Gaurav is a maniac, Aryan is an unflinching douchebag. There’s so much of Aryan Khanna that rings close to Khan’s career trajectory and the controversies that he’s found himself in.

A violent bust up with a coworker? Check. Being unabashed about dancing at high-budget weddings? Check. Being detained in a foreign country? Check.

Again, the always heartwarming story of him finding stupendous success in a city where he arrived as a vagrant is also inimitable. The stardom of Shah Rukh Khan makes this film greater than it is. The screenplay is too far-fetched at times, and it even tugs at your patience with the number of chase sequences between different sets of characters, and an always predictable outcome. The last act is also not without its flaws, where the fan is always just too smart for his own good. Much of this is compensated by the deft casting of Deepika Amin and Yogendra Tiku as Gaurav’s affable parents, and Waluscha De Sousa as the glamorous star-wife and Shriya Pilgaonkar as the friendly girl next door.

Fan is an out-and-out Shah Rukh Khan masterclass though, with Maneesh Sharma’s beguiling direction and Manu Anand’s occasionally experimentative cinematography.

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

Dilwale

Dilwale-Poster
Dilwale
Release date: December 18, 2015
Directed by: Rohit Shetty
Cast: Shah Rukh Khan, Varun Dhawan, Kriti Sanon, Kajol, Varun Sharma, Johnny Lever, Sanjay Mishra, Pankaj Trupathi, Mukesh Tiwari, Kabir Bedi, Vinod Khanna, Nawab Shah, Boman Irani

From the year 2006, Rohit Shetty strapped a jet-pack on and ascended to the heights of film success. Let’s not mention his debut film, Zameen, from 2003 which wasn’t quite of a party-starter for his arrival. Since Golmaal (2006)there hasn’t been a Shetty caper where there hasn’t been a butt-gag involved. There was one in each of the Golmaal films, he even sneaked in one in Chennai Express (2013). Off late, he seems to be moving away from hurling sharp objects into his character’s asses. If these trends were the biggest takeaway from films, then we’d all live happily ever after, in Bulgaria or Shetty’s outrageously vivid Goa.

Film reviewers, including me, sit on the sidelines and jeer at his films and the audiences get a film of little to no consequence to look down upon and have a few laughs. Some of these laughs are at the jokes and gags, some at the sheer idiocy of it all. Yes, people do like to feel smarter than/superior to what they consume, just like how a lot of us prefer to get smarter by what we consume. Film isn’t exactly a medium to convey for all, and it’s okay.

Dilwale brings along with it the colorful houses, cars and landscapes which Shetty used in All The Best (2009) and a similar setting as well. There are small-time thieves, bigwig “mafias”, reformed criminals and, the young and chirpy. Veer (Varun Dhawan) and Ishita (Kriti Sanon) make up the last part along with Sidhu (Varun Sharma). Raj/Kaali (Shah Rukh Khan), Meera (Kajol), Shakti (Mukesh Tiwari) and a token Muslim Shaikh Bhai (Pankaj Tripathi) are the reformed criminals. Mani (Johnny Lever) and Oscar (Sanjay Mishra) are the mid-level thugs and King (Boman Irani), Raj and Meera’s fathers are the “mafias”.

Everyone has a set brief given to them.
Dhawan is expected to pull off shenanigans from his earlier films, Main Tera Hero (2014) and Humpty Sharma Ki Dulhaniya (2014).
Kriti Sanon is doing her thing from Heropanti (2014).
Sharma is doing what he’s done ever since his debut in Fukrey (2013).
Tiwari and Tripathi are reprising their performances from innumerable films where they’ve been the excessively loud and mellowed good guy at heart respectively.
Kabir Bedi and Vinod Khanna don’t have a brief. Just be a daddy!
Boman Irani is asked to be hip in don costumes from 1920s.
Sanjay Mishra’s Oscar talks in rhymes.
Johnny Lever does his average South Indian guy voice with his constant spirited vigor.

Shah Rukh Khan’s Raj fights like how a person who doesn’t know the controls on a videogame would play. He keeps hitting the same punch. A good chunk of the film is concentrated on Meera and his angle from a flashback. This part passes off breezily, and so does the most of the film. The supposed protagonists have a misunderstanding 15 years back in Bulgaria, which could have been easily resolved by a simple conversation in that same time, comes to a head when Veer and Ishita fall in love and want to be together. Their respective siblings, Raj and Meera disapprove of the union because they have trust issues over what happened in the past. Apparently, what happens in Bulgaria, doesn’t stay in Bulgaria.

The film’s premise is flimsy, but it doesn’t steer into the territory where it becomes downright insufferable. The usual imbecile puns by Sajid-Farhad are very much present, yes sir, but only in moderation. A few gags connect well and make you giggle in good measures. The last act of the film has a strong moment between the two brothers, no matter how forced it is. The film isn’t being carried by just Khan and Kajol, which is a minor respite but a dampener for the viewers heading in to watch a rehash of their earlier films. The sideshow acts get a lot of prominence and they miss, and they hit. The music is hummable, but Yash Chopra must be rolling in his grave by looking at the visuals from Gerua. Seriously, how bad is the CGI on it?

It’s not a spoiler, but there’s no actual conflict in the film. And that is how this film becomes painless. Lesson for the day in the Rohit Shetty School of Filmmaking. The lack of a conflict could have been used to keep the film shorter, and tauter (?!) and slightly more enjoyable. I’d take a painless mildly entertaining Dilwale over a painfully mediocre Katti Batti any day.

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

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