Posts Tagged ‘ Vidhu Vinod Chopra ’

Wazir

wazir-poster

Wazir
Release date: January 8, 2016
Directed by: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Farhan Akhtar, Aditi Rao Hyderi, Amitabh Bachchan, Manav Kaul, Anjum Sharma, Nasir Khan, Neil Nitin Mukesh

Wazir hits the ground running with a quick montage to show us the origins of Daanish (Farhan Akhtar) and Ruhana (Aditi Rao Hyderi) marriage with Sonu Nigam’s sweet Tere Bin playing in the background. He’s with the Anti Terrorism Squad, and she’s a classical dancer. Together, they raise a daughter and due to Daanish’s one rash decision, their happy family is faced with a gruesome outcome.

There onwards, Daanish is continuously shown as a mope who’s too naive and impulsive for an officer with the amount of experience that he has. He deals with high octane violence and tactical ops, and yet he falls for whatever trap there is laid in front of him. Omkarnath (Amitabh Bachchan) extends an arm of friendship and consolation to the grief-struck Daanish, which he hesitatingly accepts.

The two men share a bond where both of them have a loss of a similar kind, except Omkarnath is an amputee chess maestro who’s organizing a play in his daughter’s memory. His character has a dead wife, a dead daughter, no legs, and was driven out of his home in Kashmir. There are times when he appears too happy for what he’s suffered. That, perhaps, is the gist of the writing for him. He mouths the wittiest of lines and yet, his eyes are too wide. They’re hard to believe. Shockingly, this small detail isn’t put to great use by making Daanish doubt his intentions at any point of the film.

Their common enemy, welfare minister Yazaad Qureshi (Manav Kaul) is the masterful antagonist who’s slimy and classy in equal proportions. Neil Nitin Mukesh gets a good, short cameo and John Abraham makes exactly three appearances as a “hacker” or an IT expert or, seriously, I don’t know what. The action sequences, especially the shootout in the dark scene is shot excellently. The pace never falls slow, which consequently helps yield a taut and gripping film.

Hints for the final ‘reveal’, or twist, are carefully left behind to answer all your questions. Farhan Akhtar brings a degree of restraint to his Daanish, but he can’t elevate the character above the poor writing for him. Daanish, the supposedly smart ATS officer, does things so stupid that Akhtar, the uber cool actor, can’t salvage. Omkarnath, on the other hand, is very calculative and so is Bachchan’s portrayal of the character. The amputee aspect isn’t hammered again and again (Good) and still used in subtle ways. Also, Aditi Rao Hyderi is utterly graceful with her moves and equally adept at being the fragile Ruhana.

Every song is woven well with the narrative, except a generic “Maula Mere Maula” that makes you wonder if you’re still watching the same film or a factory-made one-size-fits-all potboiler. The film earns a lot of points in the not-being-a-bore department by its sheer speed and direction. Bejoy Nambiar has delivered two richly stylized films earlier, and here he tones it down by a few notches and understandably so.

Wazir is a fast-paced film with a not a particularly smart protagonist, but it’s sharp and wily right from the opening titles to the rolling credits.

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

Celluloid Man

celluloid-man-poster
Celluloid Man
Release date: May 3, 2013
Directed by: Shivendra Singh Dungarpur
Cast: P.K. Nair, Krzysztof Zanussi, Naseeruddin Shah, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Jaya Bachchan, Rajkumar Hirani, Jahnu Barua, Balu Mahendra, Basu Chatterjee, Mrinal Sen, Santosh Sivan, Kumar Shahani, Ketan Mehta, Shyam Benegal, Girish Kasaravalli, Yash Chopra, Kamal Haasan, Ramesh Sippy, Mahesh Bhatt, Gulzar, Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Hariharan

Celluloid Man is about Paramesh Krishnan Nair’s undying passion for preserving India’s earliest films and going to unknown extents to acquire that one particular print of a forgotten movie. His said love wasn’t limited to the smell of nitrate films, it was way more intimate.

As Nair walks into the opening frame with his walking stick, he describes the years that have passed on in terms of his cinematic journey. He calls his initial fascination as a wonderment at the magic of moving images; his working years driven by an obsession and how he’s learnt to understand people better with his knowledge of cinema. He cuts a soft-spoken yet no-nonsense figure. And that’s how his students/friends have always known him to be.

Interspersed with clips from Hindi film industry’s earliest marvels – be it Dadasaheb Phalke’s Raja Harishchandra and Kaliya Mardan, or Bombay Talkies features like Jeevan Naiyya, Achhut Kanya and Kismet or S.S. Vasan’s Chandralekha – all of these being his acquisitions for the National Archives, a visual evolution of Indian cinema is on display along with Nair’s personal course. Not only the specifically relevant ones, but also the “C films” find a place here. Just how the man says it, you can have a rich past only when you have a rich history.

Jaya Bachchan reminisces the time when she was the only girl allowed to sit for the late night screenings with a handful of others in FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) Pune because she was the only one who’d actually attend the screenings and not go around gallivanting. Naseeruddin Shah has more than just one tale to tell. Balu Mahendra cherishes the times when he got to sit for the early morning first viewings of the newly brought in world cinema reels, “I would be watching a Norwegian film with the toothbrush in my mouth.” The personal anecdotes and experiences by stalwarts and Nair’s admirers are numerous and beautifully interesting.

The biographical documentary soon turned into a relatable story for me as I have the same habit as that of Nair’s, that is of collecting movie tickets as souvenirs. Dungarpur uses a lot of scenes from various films archives to resonate the feelings of the situations and facts in his film. Echoing screams of “I want to live” in Bengali from Ritwik Ghatak’s Meghe Dhaka Tara superimposed on stills of cobwebs hanging around celluloid reels in a lonely section of the archives, thus creating a deafening metaphor.

The Heggodu Movement begun by theater activist KV Subanna for the purpose of making the disconnected rural audiences familiar with the magnificence of Bicycle Thieves and Rashomon is also vividly recalled by the members of the participating audience members. A short montage in the later timeline depicts major themes like song, dance, action, romance and brace yourselves, members of the self-righteous moral police, full frontal Kissing from the films of black and white days. The most grande scene is perhaps the one with Nair mouthing off lines from Citizen Kane while the film plays on the screen behind him.

Just like how Mr. Nair didn’t discriminate on any basis while collecting films for the archive, Celluloid Man is an important film from a historical and cultural standpoint. It weaves his larger than life affair with cinema, simultaneously painting a picture of the sorry state of archiving as a wholly neglected activity in India. May 3, 2013 marks hundred years of Indian cinema and this film makes for compulsory viewing from every person who’s ever enjoyed a moment of theatrical magic in any form.

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

Ferrari Ki Sawaari


Ferrari Ki Sawaari
Release Date: June 15, 2012
Directed by: Rajesh Mapuskar
Cast: Sharman Joshi, Boman Irani, Ritvik Sahore, Deepak Shirke, Nilesh Diwekar, Satyadeep Mishra, Seema Pahwa

There’s a difference between a feel-good film and an over-the-top mind numbing cringe fest. Ironically, the two types listed above are sold off as ‘feel-good’. Ferrari Ki Sawaari is somewhat of a pullback to the former type. Here is a tale that portrays a not-so-above-the-Parsi-poverty-line family, that is content with what they have & still believe in making it big.

Rustom/Rusy (Sharman Joshi) is a righteous man with his morality bordering on abnormal. While Rustom’s father, Deboo (Boman Irani) is a cribbing, grumpy old man who spends all his time by watching the TV on his couch. Rusy’s son, Kayo (Ritvik Sahore) is a talented young cricketer, but his grandfather isn’t much pleased about him playing cricket altogether. Between these conflicts, there is an opportunity for Kayo to break out into a major cricket training schedule in Lords, England.

What ensues this is a throwaway of a lot of entertaining characters doing their parts perfectly and fitting into the mould of the film in a fine way. Out of all, Babbu Didi (Seema Pahwa) comes out as one of the most endearing characters out of the entire ensemble cast. It’s a shame I can’t find her name anywhere. Not even on the internet! Sachin Tendulkar’s apartment guard (Deepak Shirke) and the chauffeur (again, couldn’t find the name) keep you laughing throughout their sequences. The influential father-son duo provide for the comedic melodrama.

The film is entirely based in Bombay, describing what parts of a car are sold in which part of the town, again, entertaining. Ferrari Ki Sawaari wins in bits and pieces and not a single moment tends to get monotonous or unappealing, except for the tad exaggerated depiction of kindness at the end.

Rajesh Mapuskar’s first directorial venture doesn’t give off a rookie feel, job well done. Major props for the casting and the performances of the protagonists along with the aforementioned ensemble cast. The script is elevated by a several notches because of all these binding factors.

Ferrari Ki Sawaari is a delighting watch for that old-school feel good experience, capturing powerful moments along the way.

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

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