Gloriously vague, but not dismissable, Sandy’s views on JTHJ

Saw the film today at Inox, was nearly 55-60 per cent full. The feeling I have is that the film is doing reasonably well, but clearly is no blockbuster success.

Personally I quite liked the film and I believe it will age well. I thought Shah Rukh was wonderful, very consistent and in character throughtout. This is one thing I have to hand him compared to the other Khans. As an actor I believe he has been the most effective and he tends to pitch his characters correctly, something which Aamir has not managed to do all the time.

The story too worked for me. I didnt find it puerile as some others did…perhaps my expectations were lower. I found the story perfectly plausible, but was let down severely by having a weak actress in the lead. Now the central love story required passionate lovers – no matter what the makers tried – making Kat gyrate, having her wear off shoulders, innumerable smooches, she cannot elicit the slightest bit of oomph. That’s the problem here. Zero sexuality and chemistry…and this is no fault of SRK. This weakens the premise a lot. When Kat makes a re entry, and the couple reunites it should have given the audience goosebumps (remember Amitabh-Rekha in Silsila, Rishi-Sri in Chandni, Ash-Salman in Hum Dil, or SRK-Kajol in DDLJ) . That doesn’t happen because Kat is incredibly dull as an actress. She looks beautiful of course but is very listless. This is felt most in scenes where Anushka and she share screen time. The former’s performance throbs with life, and though she’s getting repetitive and Im no fan of her overt smugness, Anushka knows how to act, how to say her dialogues..and pull off her role with elan.

I didnt mind the coincidences so much. It doesn’t outrage your sense of logic any more than the average 70s Bolllywood film does. I found Fanaa a bit more incredulous in fact. JTHJ stays engaging throughout and there is always the curiosity to know what will happen next. The most admirable aspect of the film is SRK’s character. Within the span of the film his role still remains a bit shadowy, but there is the right illusion of depth to his character. JTHJ actually has a story that could well have been a novel, because there seems to be a lot in the characters and situations that is left unsaid. For example the crucial parting scene and its strange circumstances. It might have seemed quite plausible if one read it in a book, as much of the happenings are in the characters’ minds! There is complexity befitting a book. As a film, there are limitations and not everything gets executed well. More explaination was needed about SRK leaving too. So the film kind of seems a bit ambigious. Continue reading

Sandy’s Review Of The Dirty Picture

The Dirty Picture

Starring: Vidya Balan, Naseeruddin Shah, Emraan Hashmi, Tusshar Kapoor

Director: Milan Luthria

By Sandhya Iyer

Ekta Kapoor and Milan Luthria, as producer and director respectively, get many things right about ‘The Dirty Picture’. Firstly, this was a smart subject to chose. When you make a bio pic on Silk Smitha, automatically a large part of the film’s screen time can legitimately belong to the lead’s heaving, bountiful breasts, that are captured in all its glory through its running time. Vidya Balan’s casting is another master-stroke. The actress, though a very attractive personality, has never been viewed as a sex symbol., and with her roles in ‘Paa’ and ‘Parineeta’, she’s always had a halo of respectability around her. ‘The Dirty Picture’ subverts this. So as soon as the promos came on television and people knew Vidya was playing Silk, gyrating lustily in a low-cut blouse and skirt to Bappi Lahiri’s blazing chart-buster, ‘Oo La La… Oo La La’, the public were on board from that minute.

‘The Dirty Picture’, for a good one hour, is a complete cracker of a film. It dodges well what could have been a potential pitfall. Normally filmmakers have no clue how to use a southern setting without compromising on the language that the characters speak. Here, the film does not transfer its 80s movie setting from Madras to Mumbai to justify use of Hindi. It keeps a Southern setting, certain names are Tamil etc, but there’s no great fuss. Continue reading

The Dark Room and The World Of Nagaraj – Share your favourite story by R K Narayan

Very few readers will dispute the talent that R K Narayan was. He was the first Indian writer in English to acquire such a name for himself both among native as well as foreigners readers.
V. S Naipaul has written how his image of India was entirely shaped by reading R K Narayan’s books and all that happens in Malgudi, the fictional small-town in South India that the author set his stories in. His tales came with a parochial delight, yet encompassed a world of human emotions and characters. This was enchanting as much as it was universal in appeal.
Still, every now and then one hears of a not-so-flattering comment about Narayan’s prose. At times it cannot be completely dismissed as it comes from say a Shashi Tharoor who in his wonderful book on his literary passions, Bookless In Baghdad writers candidly about Narayan’s weaknesses calling his style ‘flat and monotonous’
Tharoor writes, “Some of my friends felt I was wrong to focus on language – a writerly concern – and lose sight of the stories, which in many ways had an appeal that transcended language. But my point was that such pedestrian writing diminished Narayan’s stories, undermined the characters, trivialised their concerns.”

It’s not completely unfair to say that Narayan’s writing had its flaws, but hardly anything so serious to make it any less enjoyable. His English was perfectly good by the standards of the day. In any case, one gets a perfect sense of what Narayan might want to convey.

Narayan’s writing for most part remains simple, yet profound, a feat not as easily achievable as he makes it look. His trilogy, Malgudi Days, The Bachelor Of Arts and The English Teacher are largely autobiographical, but also offer some of the most poignant and wonderful narratives. His stories bristle with the nestling beauty of warm domestic scenes. His characters grapple with seemingly trivial concerns, but to them, these are profoundly impacting and life-altering things. Continue reading

Sandy’s review of Mausam

An uninspiring Beauty


Starring: Shahid Kapur, Sonam Kapoor, Aditi Sharma

Director: Pankaj Kapur

Stars: **1/2

Much was expected from Pankaj Kapur, given his own credentials as an intense actor and the meaningful films he’s been a part of. The promos of Mausam, though a bit affected, did evoke some curiosity, given that the film seemed to have been put together with a fair bit of effort, ensuring that it is a treat for the eyes. But this is one of the prime reasons for the film to also become unbearable to watch after a point.

Only a psychologist can perhaps analyse why Kapur might be so obsessed with framing pretty frames all the time. His whole focus seems to be to make a good-looking film. Even in scenes of deaths at graveyards, which are intended to evoke sadness, the director’s camera pans on dainty little flowers around. He seems to love having carriages, horses and flower beds everywhere. Needlessly, the film travels to Scotland, giving way to a bunch of implausible situations. The only rational explanation for this is because Kapur wanted to shoot in a beautiful place. Logically it makes no sense. Continue reading

Vital or fatal – Which way will ‘Ra. One’ go?

Sandhya Iyer
Express News Service
Last Updated : 16 Sep 2011 01:27:19 PM IST

It happens once or twice in a decade that one witnesses a real epic, dream project. These ventures are generally so high-budget and so crazily-hyped that while under production they are viewed with a mix of curiosity, hope and skepticism.

As can be expected, a dream project always involves a top star or a veteran filmmaker, attempting something grand and unforgettable. It’s natural that every famous artist in his lifetime should desire to create an extraordinary piece of work, that posterity can remember him for. Continue reading

The Lion King (3 D) review

Sandhya Iyer

There is a great deal of nostalgia one attaches with The Lion King – Walt Disney’s animation film of 1994 that was hailed as an instant classic when it released. Over the years, the spell-binding music, story, characters have all became part of cinematic lore. The movie now returns with a 3 D makeover, and if this ends up introducing a fresh new generation to The Lion King – the effort would be completely worth it.

All it takes are a couple of scenes for a first-time watcher to realise he/she’s watching a great film. The rapier sharp wit, the nuanced characters, the simple but universal story-line — all make a deep and profound impression. Continue reading

Whimpers more than roars – Sandy’s review of Singham


Director: Rohit Shetty
Starring: Ajay Devgan, Kajal Aggarwal, Prakash Raj, Anant Jog, Sachin Khedekar, Sonali Kulkarni
Rating: **

Sandhya Iyer

Even considering that South remakes are in vogue and have given
Bollywood huge hits by way of Ghajini and Wanted, the announcement of Singham did seem somewhat odd. The Tamil film that starred Suriya in the lead (he was the hero in the Ghajini original as well) was purely a showcase for the lead actor who has become a rage down South in the last few years. As is the case with such endeavours where the star is the point of the film, the Tamil Singham peddled an extremely workaday story that somehow passed muster thanks to the lead star’s appeal and a fairly well-pitched romantic track. But barring that, it is just too unremarkable a film to warrant a remake. Which is why one was curious to see how Rohit Shetty, who started his career with an actioner (Zameer – decent) before his Golmaal series’ success, would make it worthwhile.

Now I believe any good film- whether it aims at classes or masses or both – must maintain a sense of plausibility to be truly enjoyable. If situations get too trite or exaggerated or facile, they slowly start to disengage. That is one of the central problems with Singham. It starts off with an incident of a police inspector shooting himself because he gets falsely victimised. Now this is a regular situation in a film. However, it is treated in such a cliché ridden manner – the kind where notes are stuffed into his car and everyone shouts ‘thief’ thief’ It’s easy to guess from some of these early scenes that Rohit Shetty’s version is not going to aim for the least bit of subtlety or originality. It tries to makes a virtue of all that is formulaic and unimaginative.
The Southern version was paying obeisance to its leading man in every shot, capturing his every moving hair in slow motion and morphing his face literally into that of a lion while he took on the baddies. Thankfully, Shetty and his writers act a bit saner. But the hero is still treated with much reverance in any case. There’s a grand scene where Devgan emerges from the waters, with temples and lights in the backdrop with chantings, followed by a Dabangg style song where random things go on, establishing what a regal lion he is. And just so that you don’t miss the title’s reference, the hero and the dancers make a strange claw-movement with their hands. There are plenty of such unintentionally funny moments in the film. Continue reading

Two beautiful songs from Shreya Goshal. Singham and Nauka Dubi

The first is from Singham. Music is by Marathi composers Atul-Ajay who are extremely popular after their score for Natrang – the National award winning film. This song is so lilting and the antara is one of the most sweetest Ive heard in a long time. And Shreya is easily the nightingale of this generation.

The second song is one of my favourites. It is from Nauka Dubi (Kashmakash), Manwa. Such pathos and melody.

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