Posts Tagged ‘ Zoya Akhtar ’

Dil Dhadakne Do

Dil_Dhadakne_Do_poster

Dil Dhadakne Do
Release date: June 5, 2015
Directed by: Zoya Akhtar
Cast: Anil Kapoor, Shefali Shah, Priyanka Chopra, Ranveer Singh, Anushka Sharma, Rahul Bose, Farhan Akhtar, Parmeet Sethi, Vikrant Massey, Ridhima Sud, Zarina Wahab

If Karan Johar were to make Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham in the year 2015, and on a Mediterranean cruise, there’s a probability it could had have been closer to Dil Dhadakne Do. Pointless, unnecessary comparison aside, it would have had to cut down on some healthy jingoism and overt flash and the melodramatic razzmatazz.

2015 calls for a crisper, and a lighter hand at the job. 2015 calls for Zoya Akhtar to play with a family drama, which has bits and parts of relative predictability, with dollops of individual charisma and charm. The Millionaire Mehras, Neelam (Shefali Shah) and Kamal (Anil Kapoor) have an ordinary marriage crumbling on the inside, and a business that’s faced with a similar fate. To salvage one of the two, they host a wedding anniversary party on an exuberant ship which will take their guests around Istanbul.

Their son, Kabir (Ranveer Singh) is being prepped to take over as the heir once the Kamal steps down. Kabir tries. Kabir falters. Kabir flies a plane to get over it (!?).  Ayesha (Priyanka Chopra) is the driven-away daughter who’s grown on to be a successful businesswoman, post her halfhearted marriage to Manav (Rahul Bose) The Mehra parents are obviously discriminatory.

Along with being discriminatory, or sexist, they’re hypocrites just like every other human being, as their pet Pluto (voiced by Aamir Khan) points out. They are bigoted and dysfunctional, just like an ordinary set of old folks, no matter how rich or poor they may be. This is where the perennially impeccably dressed Mehras become fallible and vulnerable characters. What Zoya Akhtar doesn’t try to do out of her way is to make the supremely flawed parents become likable and utterly revered seniors from Baghban, instead she keeps them humane and grey.

The children bear the brunt and the fruits, of which they’re frequently reminded of their obligation towards the fruits they’ve cherished all their lives. They are asked of life-altering compromises in return at times. Ayesha and Kabir, as siblings, have grown past the age of petty fights and name-calling. They’ve graduated to silently understanding what the other feels, knowing where the other deserves his/her support, and when to let them handle the screw-up of the day.

The strongest relationship is shared by the siblings and the performances put in by Singh and Chopra enthuse the deserved spirit into their characters. Ranveer’s Kabir is cool, urbane and witty and not at all over-the-top boisterous showboarder; he’s the younger of the two and thus, fairly rebellious. Priyanka’s Ayesha is the older, much matured sister that knows her parents won’t give her credit where it’s due. Yet, she’s moved past that and is coping with a modern (go on, read modern as millennial, you internet-junkie) loveless marriage. And both of them run away with as much as they can by unrelentingly extracting from their screen time.

Anil Kapoor sportingly wields strands of grey hair and slips into the self-serving megalomaniac Kamal’s skin. He personifies the faulty patriarch. Shefali Shah’s Neelam is dealt a rough path. She’s stuck in a marriage, like many other women from any background find themselves, where the wife is being taken for granted and hence in turn, detonates the bomb of passive-aggression, forever. Shah is simply brilliant throughout, especially in the scene where she’s exemplifying the decorum for her son.

Dil Dhadakne Do is heartbreakingly authentic and harsh in the moments where the family is struggling to come to terms to the ground realities of their current lives. All the millions in the world can’t give you complete control over the events in your life. It’s here that the film earns its ticket price. It takes a set of elite, classic “10 percent” haves and makes them not seem stumbling drunks, addicts or weeping bags of douchebags. They manage to deal with it, albeit in stylish suits and on lavish locations.

Light humor and powerful cameos by Anushka Sharma and Farhan Akhtar and the entire ensemble cast ensures there’s no seasickness on this voyage. How could I not make a sea metaphor!
Special mention to the single-shot approach on the song Gallan Goodiyaan. The song starts off as annoyingly loud and then seamlessly transitions into a fun number.

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

Bombay Talkies

Bombay_Talkies_2013_Poster
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) 

Talaash

Talash poster
Talaash
Release date: November 30, 2012
Directed by: Reema Kagti
Cast: Aamir Khan, Rani Mukherji, Kareena Kapoor, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Shernaz Patel, Raj Kumar Yadav

Chronicling the length and breadth of Mumbai on a usual evening in the city, colourful shots of twinkling lights and sea waves and ending the opening titles with a junkie smoking by the roadside who looks on as an actor’s car has a weird crash. This is how Talaash’s pace is set right at the start.

From there on, the talaash (search) for the reasons that caused a freakish mishap begins. As pieces of the impending mystery start piecing together, Inspector Surjan Shekhawat (Aamir Khan) realizes it wasn’t just a one-off accident. There are no obvious pointers to the regular drunken driving incidents as well. There are a lot of layers on the entire case. Surjan has a few personal and family issues too. As he publicly accepts, his wife Roshni (Rani Mukherji) is inflicted by a problem, he doesn’t quite figure out that it’s he who needs to ease up his knots.

As his interrogation leads him to further witnesses and more evidence, he’s acquainted with Rosy (Kareena Kapoor) who is a prostitute. Her character is so well-etched (never mind a few cliche lines) it brings the required mystique and adds another dimension to the characters she interacts with, including the drab and dreary Surjan. It’s these interactions that hold and release much of the pressure, but the same distracts from the actual search into the inner battles of our protagonists.

Talaash depends on a strong belief of the writers and the director, but the same beliefs could not go down well with many viewers who are looking for a hard-hitting totally realistic thriller. Sure, the imagery with beautiful shots prove that the camera work is impeccable. The persistent problem is of the path that the makers have chosen to demystify the story. After a point, you realize what’s happening and you don’t have to wait anymore to hang onto the edge of your seat.

The music is exemplified by the opening and haunting Muskaanein Jhoothi Hain, there are two more full fledged songs, out of which one looks like a square peg in the circle hole. But it’s not too painful. Rani and Aamir bring the poised demureness needed for their characters, while Kareena is simply indulging and enjoyable in all her moments with her seductive charm. The ensemble cast of Nawazuddin as a crippled shady guy Teimur , Raj Kumar Yadav as a junior to Inspector Surjan and Shernaz Patel as the creepy neighbour are all good.

Overall, Talaash is an attempt at classic suspense but a bit lost in the shuffle of letting every character attain closure and answers to their inherent questions. It borders on being a smart film and a thrown opportunity.

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

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