Posts Tagged ‘ Vidya Balan ’

Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh

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Kahaani 2: Durga Rani Singh
Release date: December 2, 2016
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Arjun Rampal, Tunisha Sharma, Jugal Hansraj, Kharaj Mukherjee, Tota Roychoudhury, Manini Chadha, Amba Sanyal

In the spring of 2012, or as we in Mumbai call it, the relatively less hot days of the year, Vidya Bagchi sifted through the colorful streets of Kolkata to find her husband with a heavily pregnant womb, and some layers of deception running along. In the created universe, Bagchi was an easily believable protagonist. A vulnerable woman with life growing inside her, considered as the most pious state of womanhood by constantly pushed rhetoric and religious propaganda that bills a woman’s motherhood as an ideal.

This time around, she’s not as two-dimensional. Not half as easily believable. In a small song-montage, Vidya Sinha (Vidya Balan) describes an idyllic Sunday with her paralyzed daughter Mini (Tunisha Sharma). A few minutes later, chaos begins to descend on them, and a car accident later, Sub-Inspector Inderjeet Singh (Arjun Rampal) discovers minute details of Vidya’s life through a diary that she maintained until eight years prior to the day.

Soon, another angle floats to the surface. Inspector Haldar (Kharaj Mukherjee) claims that Durga Rani Singh is a wanted criminal who’s forged a new identity, and is apparently in the sleepy town of Chandanagar; “the town that’s as big as a football field”. Durga bears a stark resemblance to Vidya, and that is me putting it mildly. Inderjeet is conflicted about the two sides to the comatose Vidya/absconding Durga situation.

Eventually, from looking for her husband in Kahaani to looking for her daughter in Kahaani 2, the extensive searching and innocuous prying gives way for a prolonged dark exposition of Durga’s origins. Her punctuated loneliness, her social anxiety and a throbbing sense of grasping on to someone who she empathizes with, who she sees herself as a younger version of her own self. Durga confines herself to a tiny house in the hills of Kalimpong, for reasons initially unclear. Bereft of vanity, and any desire to pursue her interests beyond her job at a school, she struggles to make emotional relationships.

This Vidya is far removed from the amiable, and charming, sundress clad Vidya of the earlier film. Her timidity, attributed to a graver issue, can often be alluded to create an element of doubt in her actions and her statements. A looming sense of suspicion hovers around the affairs, much like noir films of the past. The film deals with sexual abuse from a crystallized point of view, where the crime is openly addressed, and quite openly accepted by the perpetrator as well, separating the enablers from the resistor and the sole condemning agent.

Vidya Balan’s performance scales the heights viewers have come to expect from her over the years. She powers through clumsy, everyday violence-like action sequences, and sets the house on fire, literally and figuratively, with psychotic rage for that one slightly predictable final jolt in the plot. Her passionate display, along with fast, brisk cuts in the build-up to the revelation of her character’s years in Kalimpong, supported by a devious Jugal Hansraj, a mean Kharaj Mukherjee, and a weary Arjun Rampal, with a slightly overtly chirpy Manini Chadha as his wife, keep the film heavily gripping for vast parts.

As comparisons are bound to be made, Kahaani 2 is as different of a film as it is similar to Kahaani. There’s a failed attempt at resurrecting a Bob Biswas like mercenary, a purpose for deception and there is expansive range for Balan to be the boss that she is at this acting job, and the limitedly infringing landscapes of Kolkata. Kahaani 2 is pulp, though not as cheesy as genre films, still somewhere a mix between the traditional and bold, constantly entertaining.

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

Bobby Jasoos

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Bobby Jasoos
Release date: July 4, 2014
Directed by: Samar Shaikh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Ali Fazal, Prasad Barve, Aakash Dahiya, Supriya Pathak, Tanve Azmi, Benaf Dadachandji, Rajendra Gupta, Zarina Wahab, Arjan Bajwa, Anupriya Goenka, Kiran Kumar

If I push you right into the plot of the film without giving you a proper introduction to the basic story, you would feel that my review is jerky. That is just one of the only few problems with Bobby Jasoos. The wobbly start and an immediate change of course towards the last act of the film are perhaps the only major hiccups in this fun and innovative caper.

Bilkis Ahmed a.k.a. Bobby is a self-trained private detective with no professional connections, she takes up cases for her friends, and other near ones. In disguise, she can fool even her family into thinking that she isn’t the one they’re asking to read their palm, under a tree, right in the middle of a bustling street. Running her office with  Shetty (Prasad Barve) who runs his Cyber Cafe, their chemistry is slowly established. Shetty is an unsaid Salman Khan fan, he shows his fandom by never claiming it openly by wearing overly fitting t-shirts and a turquoise bracelet.

Assisting her are Munna (Aakash Dahiya) and even her family women, comprising of her mother played by Supriya Pathak, her aunt Kausar Khala (Tanve Azmi) and her sister Noor (Benaf Dadachandji) even though her father (Rajendra Gupta) is opposed  to the concept of his daughter pacing around the bylanes of Old Hyderabad, chasing random strangers and prying on their lives. A lucrative offer from Anees Khan (Kiran Kumar) starts adding the stars and honors to Bobby’s credentials, but as she progresses she realizes it isn’t just a spy job.

The detailing in Bobby’s appearance is precious to look at, she carries a handy pack of Parle-G biscuits and a bottle of water handy in her backpack. She pretends to be busy when an able competitor shows up to check out her office. Even her friends, be it Shetty or Tasawwur (Ali Fazal) who seeks her help to reject prospective brides, have their own likeability factor going for them. Ali Fazal grows as a performer and suits the part perfectly. The ensemble of Gupta, Pathak, Azmi, Dadachandji and Kiran Kumar assist in keeping even the bit players entertaining.

The strength of Bobby Jasoos lies in its writing and acting, up until the final resolution to the film’s major conflicts. The unveiling of the climactic suspense is disappointing, not as much as a heavy underhanded attempt at keeping the film feel-goody. The way the makers decide to pull it through, leaving behind some vital hints behind, the jigsaw pieces don’t fit into the puzzle perfectly. Coupled with a completely unnecessary song-and-dance dream sequence number, the poor music and background score don’t help their case either.

Again, Vidya Balan is the quintessential ‘hero’ of the film here, and the director chooses to treat her struggles at the family front with as much justice as her professional dilemmas. It’s a simple scene at the end, it is touching, but as a viewer, I didn’t feel particularly moved by its purpose and the lines said by the two involved characters here. Surely the moments of Bobby’s professional growth and the inkling of a love life were the most enjoyable portions for me.

Bobby Jasoos with its rich template of cinematography and colorful moments is a good film with its flaws. Not many makers dare to venture with a story as unconventional as this at its core.

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

Ghanchakkar

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Ghanchakkar
Release date: June 28, 2013
Directed by: Raj Kumar Gupta
Cast: Vidya Balan, Emraan Hashmi, Rajesh Sharma, Namit Das, Parveen Dabbas

Raj Kumar Gupta’s take at comedy, i.e. Ghanchakkar is a murky tale of  a bunch of equally eccentric characters placed in an odd setting together.

Sanju (Emraan Hashmi) is a whiz safe-cracker who is stealth even in his personal life. His wife is the massively fashion-obsessed, heavily Punjabi Neetu (Vidya Balan) always experimenting with her cooking and wigs alike. A sudden call from Pandit (Rajesh Sharma) shakes Sanju’s daily activities out of a self-imposed ban on doing any more robberies.

Idris (Namit Das) is Pandit’s shady accomplice. Armed with a gun, he likes to bully people while the two hold ‘business meetings’ in Mumbai’s local trains during the night. Their introduction is creepy and unfunny. The lines aim for some comic peaks, eventually falling into the valleys. The motive seems unclear here, or perhaps I was fooled.

After their robbery plans go right, there’s a glitch: Sanju has stashed the mega-millions somewhere and due to an accident is suffering from a partial memory loss problem. This memory loss leads to the actual major conflict of the film, ranging from him forgetting his former accomplices to suspecting his closest ones of fleeing away with the money. The said patch leads to interesting situations and laughter fits in bits and pieces.

Vidya Balan carries off her part with expected integrity and power, even Hashmi has the befuddled look throughout perfectly. Rajesh Sharma and Namit Das carefully evolve from the ghoulish beings to parallely stuck pawns in a larger game. The cast may be limited but never falls short of delivering. Setu’s cinematography of a space-crunched Mumbai is shockingly expansive and preys on dark themes. Shockingly, Amit Trivedi’s soundtrack compositions are limited and his dubstep background score is covered more.

The film’s inherent spirit keeps fluctuating from amusing to plain flat, and plain flat to whimsical. You expect it to carry on the same track but it doesn’t. There’s simply not much physical searching for the money, and there’s more of let-me-recall-what-happened-three-months-back-by-sitting-on-my-hands. It makes you want the film to end early, and with the predictable approach that the makers choose to unveil the big bombshells you are outright unimpressed and disappointed.

Blood and gore are used in moderation, and with the silenced cuss words, it appears as if the producers wanted to play safe. Ironically the self-censoring isn’t detrimental to the plot’s success. I will be lying if I don’t admit breaking into an anxiety attack induced by laughing at the phone-sex sequence, but that’s one of the three main highlights along with the individual performances and the cinematography. The writing tries very hard to transcend through the next level, only to stay in mediocrity.

Ghanchakkar aims for greener avenues and ends up straying into dry lands. The flaws aren’t as grave, yet they end up one-upping the innate wit and smartly placed pop references.

My rating: **1/2 (2 and a half out of 5)

Bombay Talkies

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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) 

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)

Kahaani Review


Kahaani
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Directed by: Sujoy Ghosh
Cast: Vidya Balan, Parambrata Chatterjee, Darshan Jariwala, Indraneil Sengupta, Saswata Chatterjee, Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Early posters of Kahaani proclaimed the film to be “A mother of a story”, and I was fairly titillated just by that. I wanted to know if it actually proves itself to be that good. The promos have built up a lot of scenes, but none of them really give out the thrill & suspense associated with them.

Our protagonist Vidya Bagchi (Vidya Balan), rechristened as Bidya by the local Bengalis everywhere she goes, is the heavily pregnant woman searching for her husband Arnab Bagchi. She is a software engineer who’s armed with her charm and nonchalant smile. Her reports are brushed off as just another case of a missing person by the police, until Satyaki (Parambrata Chatterjee) tries to help her out. He tells her, in Kolkata, everyone has a moniker and they are never referred to by their real names. Together, they recce every place that Arnab had described, but no one could validate his claims of being there.

Vidya holds her beliefs strong, and insists that the world is lying. It is this belief that makes her ruffle feathers of the intelligence and the powers that be. She soon realizes everything is far more complex than what appears on the front. There are layers of red-tape on her quest for her husband. The story goes on to encapsulate you within its cocoon and provides a strong self-descriptive narrative that never requires more than a few light lines & a smile from Vidya.

There are neither any jarring sound effects during the highly concerning scenes, nor there are umpteen pillow-grabbing crying sequences with songs playing at the back. Nothing is irrelevant. Though I won’t say the same about the film’s climax & its justification. Vidya Balan yet again gives a performance that leaves you gasping to catch more of this woman in the future. The ensemble cast, as shown yet again, is the major binding factor for a story to move around smoothly.

The duration of the film never remains an issue as you go through the motions. The crowded metropolis of Kolkata finds an artistic appeal through Satyajit Pande’s camera work. Overall, it is a coming-of-age story that shows us the transition that our films need to go through.

I rate it as a must-watch for getting the basics of story-telling right & coming out to be a mother of a story. (Never mind the climax)

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

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