Posts Tagged ‘ Tabu ’

Fitoor

fitoor-poster

Fitoor
Release date: February 12, 2016
Directed by: Abhishek Kapoor
Cast: Aditya Roy Kapur, Katrina Kaif, Tabu, Mohammed Abrar, RayesMohi Ud Din, Khalida Jaan, Tunisha Sharma, Kunal Khyaan, Lara Dutta, Talat Aziz, Rahul Bhat, Ajaz Rah, Aditi Rao Hyderi, Akshay Oberoi

Charles Dickens’s novel, Great Expectations, has been billed as a coming of age story where young adults were made to respect pacts and trained in “gentlemanly arts”; the protagonist is taught to overcome the class differences of being a lower class citizen and eventually acquire the love of a wealthy eccentric spinster’s daughter. Not a lot of it would make sense in the year 2016, and Abhishek Kapoor and Supratik Sen adapt their screenplay from the book so as to suit our times.

A young Noor (Mohammed Abrar) is good at fine arts and never seems to go to school. His older sister (Khalida Jaan) urges him to work along with her husband. Begum Hazrat (Tabu) stays in her affluent, but doomed mansion, with her young daughter Firdaus (Tunisha Sharma); Noor becomes besotted with the girl, but is warmed of the probable consequences of ‘losing his heart’ to her by none other than Firdaus’s mother. Hazrat shows bipolar tendencies wherein she encourages Noor to pursue his interests and even enjoy the company of her daughter, and at the same time she continuously cautions him against getting too close to her.

The film follows Noor’s boyhood with patience and some detail. The wide-eyed boy soon turns into a hulked-up, disturbingly chiseled artist who still works with his brother in law in Kashmir. Noor (Aditya Roy Kapur) is still infatuated with Firdaus and learns that she’s been in England for years and that she’ll be returning to Delhi in a few days. An anonymous benefactor finds Noor to be worthy of an all expense paid residency program in Delhi. Firdaus (Katrina Kaif) has grown to have dazzling red hair, just like her mother, and is engaged to a Pakistani politician, Bilal (Rahul Bhat). She says that things have changed and they’ve grown up, Noor is just a friend for her now.

We all know it isn’t that simple, because, hey, it’s a film for heaven’s sake. Noor relentlessly pursues her and there are complications and Firdaus is confused, and also manipulated by her mother. The plot gets muddier and many more popular faces start dropping in into the film. The story steers away from the boy-girl drama, and steers toward the India-Pakistan tensions, Hazrat’s extensive backstory and the unraveling of her psyche. Kapur and Kaif’s ‘chemistry’ is more of a sum of individual parts than a collective output. They have limited screen time together, and they both manage to look ‘different’ for their parts, hence bringing a certain element of sizzle naturally. Also, Noor never struggles with the stylized city life of Delhi, not even with his English, given that he never seems to have gone to an actual school, ever.

Amit Trivedi’s wondrous soundtrack is almost exhausted in the first half of the film, so they can get to the heavier end of the screenplay. Right until the halfway mark, things are pretty dry and straight, even the point of intermission lacked to create any real sense of anxiety in me. The proceedings remain promising and extremely enchanting with Anay Goswamy’s cinematography though, as you hope on for something to break the simmering stagnation.

Fitoor plays around well with its drama when it goes the whole nine yards, i.e. going back to showing the origins of Hazrat’s bipolar personality and immersing the viewer into the deep dark secrets of the Dickensian universe. It feels a little late at times, as the universe isn’t quite Dickensian, and love affair between Noor and Firdaus never quite reaches the titular emotion of the film, obsession. Tabu throws her usual masterclass of a performance to support the lead pair, so much so that they could have had her in the poster for the film just by herself.

tabu-fitoor-poster

Wait, there is one poster of just her.

With all the ingredients for a surefire technically sound magnum opus, Fitoor doesn’t quite run its engines on all cylinders. The film’s storytelling is patient and paced at a haunting speed, only for the payoff to be a sudden momentary stroke of self-realization in one of the protagonists.

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

Talvar

Talvar-Poster

Talvar
Release date: October 2, 2015
Directed by: Meghna Gulzar
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Konkona Sensharma, Neeraj Kabi, Sohum Shah, Shishir Sharma, Prakash Belawadi, Gajraj Rao, Tabu, Atul Kumar, Sumit Gulati

In the summer of 2008, a juggernaut hit the Indian TV waves. It was the Indian Premier League (IPL) and as one of the many theories suggested, the domestic helps in the Arushi-Hemraj double murders were bonding over a cricket match, on the night the mysterious killings took place. There was another theory which suggested that Arushi wanted to get back at her parents for something real bad. All of these theories, some debunked, some not, were polar opposites of the other.

The selection of the right theory is perhaps the part where a case is said to be solved. That selection is corroborated with some testimonies, and/or material evidence. Some cases are “easy” to crack, either by force or by a criminal confession. When proven right, the entire process is a treat to watch at the cinema halls and a great read in the papers. When the investigation goes awry, it’s a disturbing fact to consume that someone innocent could be punished for someone else’s transgressions, or “justice will be denied” forever.

Names of the characters are tweaked by a letter or two, and Talvar takes an outsider view at the whole murder mystery. There are several vantage points, and none from the inside. There’s the Kanhaiya (Krishna in the actual story, played by Sumit Gulati) angle, then there’s the local police’s bumbling perspective, ‘CDI’ investigator Ashwin Kumar (Arun Kumar from CBI, enacted by Irrfan Khan) piecing together the puzzle with his own story, and the chaste Hindi speaking CDI officer Paul (Atul Kumar).

Every perspective plays out in Rashomon fashion, always adding layers to what’s known to the world. Every time the story is retold, the order of events is changed, the agenda is changed, and even the killer. The film does take a stand, after making its point in an eight minute long debate between the two separate teams of investigators; both of them biased towards their own findings and prejudiced towards the other’s methods and observations. The stellar performances of all the cast members keep the proceedings engaging, even with the grim content at hand.

The state of affairs is only alleviated, with Vishal Bharadwaj at the helm of the writing department. In the midst of horrid allegations and depictions, there are sardonic lines from our lives that lighten the tone of events. Gajraj Rao, Sumit Gulati and Atul Kumar are vital bit players that hold the film well with their respective performances. Khan is at the center of the film, not just in terms of current star power, but also in terms of his character’s positioning. He’s shown to be the beacon of light, no matter how realistically fallible.

Ship of Theseus actors Neeraj Kabi as Ramesh and Sohum Shah as Ashwin Kumar’s junior have their hands full and they deliver well. Konkona Sensharma blends in with every shade that is given to her character, in the way of different ‘flashbacks’.

Talvar reiterates symbolically, that solving crime is just another job for some. At the same time, it’s a job with an inevitable but disallowed margin of error. How an actual murder mystery unveils in ‘real life’. Definitely not like an episode from Sherlock. 

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

Haider

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Haider
Release date: October 2, 2014
Directed by: Vishal Bhardwaj
Cast: Tabu, Narendra Jha, Shahid Kapoor, Kay Kay Menon, Shraddha Kapoor, Aamir Bashir, Lalit Parimoo, Sumit Kaul, Rajat Bhagat, Irrfan Khan, Ashish Vidyarthi, Kulbhushan Kharbanda

Before you proceed to read this review, and try to form your opinion about the film, I’d like to give you three strong reasons to just get off your seat and go watch Haider. Except you’re in the theater waiting for the film to start.

“Inteqaam sirf inteqaam laataa hai, aazaadi nahin.”

“Jhuk ke jab jhumka main choom raha tha
Der tak gulmohar jhoom raha tha…”

“Chota na bada
Koi lamba hai na bona hai
Kabar ke dadab mein lambi neend so na hai”

If these three pieces of literary genius don’t propel you into the stratosphere of Haider, you should read on.

In a land struck with insurgency, and forceful counter-insurgency measures by the army, heavily under surveillance throughout all times, Vishal Bhardwaj replaces the conflicted land of Denmark with an equally conflicted region of Kashmir in his adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Haider could have simply been the story of the title character’s revenge against his Uncle Claudius from the play, i.e. Khurram (Kay Kay Menon) avenging the death of his father Dr. Hilal Meer (Narendra Jha); but it isn’t just that. Bhardwaj and his co-writer Basharat Peer choose to play up Hamlet’s mother Gertrude’s undecided nature about the men in her life, be it her son or her husband or her brother-in-law. Gertrude is called Ghazala in this universe and she’s vital right till the end.

Haider-Ghazala

Arshia (Shraddha Kapoor) is the hijab wearing lover of Haider, her brother (Aamir Bashir) much like Laertes from the play has traveled to another town for his studies after initially opposing strongly to Arshia’s affections for Haider. Interspersed with the Kashmeeri accent, every actor brings a certain earthy charm to the characters they are playing. Arshia dancing with gay abandon in Haider’s clothes is one of those moments which brings that earthy charm with a hip touch.

Haider’s ‘antic disposition’  starts off with the rattling of the provisions and powers of the Kashmir Pact from 1948, the Geneva Agreement succeeding that and the final nail in Kashmir’s coffin, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Section 370 of the Indian Constitution. Shahid Kapoor picks up the intensity of a fire-breathing dragon and never cowers down hence that moment. He picks up the bottled, and timid Haider and transforms into this all-knowing mad man. The faces that he makes, mixed in a potent combination of naive innocence and sheer viciousness when the moment asks.

Providing an emphatic social commentary on the state of affairs in the region, Haider is beautifully poetic in its dialogues, photography and song picturizations. Be it the melancholic Jhelum which sings of the blood soaked and the screams muffled by the river Jhelum, or Arijit Singh’s most soulful composition of this year ‘Khul Kabhi To’ in a Casablanca-ish setting, or the explosive puppet dance drama in Bismil, I have never enjoyed the traditional Hindi song-and-dance routine as much, ever before.

Khul kabhi toh...

Pankaj Kumar photographs Haider with a broadly extensive repertoire of angles. My personal favorites again coming from the continuous tracking of the camera during Shahid’s storytelling in Bismil, the shades and shots used to create a certain unease between Ghazala and her son, and also Arshi’s dementia. The red scarf, the red hood and the red knitting cloth are so eerie, you don’t need a vivid emotion to tell you what happens next.

How well is Bismil shot!

Bhardwaj retains the individual traits of the characters from Hamlet, yet refusing to dwell on a very far-flung climax sequence, and even the murders with said poisons that curdle a man’s blood, he utilizes the real-time scenario of his Hamlet’s geography. Shakespeare is present in spirit, with a constant Hindi rendition of “To be or not to be” which Haider refers to question the existence of the being. The background score plays the theme from Aao Na and is so tantalizing that you simply want the song to start playing with THAT powerful entry of Khan.

The film employs the services of many actors, some in bits and some in chunks, Kay Kay Menon and Shraddha Kapoor embody Khurram and Arshi to a fault, while Shahid and Tabu own their characters by customizing them. The film in its entirety is a surreal depiction of a revenge-drama which could possibly eclipse all of Bhardwaj’s earlier adaptations and creations. Haider is a telling story with political undertones, and a film that is perhaps the most bold and vivid attempt at integrating the gloom of Kashmir with that of a character as conflicted about his rage as the people of that region about their identities and the collective concept of mainstream nationalism.

Witty, smart, poetic, scenic, passionate, and relevant, I can embellish this piece with more adjectives for Haider all day long.

My rating: ***** (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)

Life of Pi


Life of Pi
Release date: November 21, 2012
Directed by: Ang Lee
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Suraj Sharma, Tabu, Adil Hussain, Gérard Depardieu, Rafe Spall

Caution: Please don’t hyperventilate at the generous use of the word ‘beautiful’.

Life of Pi, adapted from its original namesake book, has a premise that borders on theism (rather, believing in yourself) and the contrast it shares with realism.

The plot is built upon a particular trying predicament in the life of Piscine Patel (Irrfan Khan) that solidified his faith and belief. He gets his name from Piscine Molitor – a swimming pool in France. How he’s rechristened to Pi is an endearing tale in itself. Pi’s mother (Tabu) reveres her religion and revels in the exuberant Hindu mythology by reciting tales of Vishnu to his brother Ravi and him.

Piscine’s father (Adil Hussain) is a businessman in Pondicherry, where the French colonial tastes still prevail. He starts a zoo within a restaurant as an attraction and gets a wide range of animals, i.e. a Royal Bengal Tiger, a zebra, orangutans, hyenas and  monkeys of course! Due to the Emergency of ’75 and the economic hardships of running a zoo in a cash-crunched country gets difficult for them, and Pi’s parents decide to relocate to Canada. What happens on their journey to Canada is what holds the spine of the film.

In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, dangling against winds and waves, Life of Pi makes the optimum use of 3D effects. Whether it’s the underwater or radiant blue skies  with the sun shining and fading away, you’re immersed into the scenic gallery of nature’s wonders.  You absorb the sounds and somber background  score, gasping and heaving at the thrilling encounters on the boat. Dialogue takes a backseat and the narrative does manage to make it look sensible and perfect.

Adil Hussain gets a balanced Tamil dialect to his English, Suraj Sharma displays tenacity and desperation as the young Pi. Though the start of the story does seem a bit clunky, but the visual imagery is beautiful throughout. The underlying theme might appear as something which establishes a ground for religion and its relevance but it entirely isn’t that. I won’t reveal what it is for it’ll just give you freeloaders a kick.

To sum up, Life of Pi is what the title tells us, which he calls “Irrational as pi (the numeric value of 22/7)” And you don’t actually need to know what mathematical background pi belongs to. Life of Pi is enchanting and surreal, yet ethereal and binding. Watch this beautiful fest of marvelous creations to wonder about.

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

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