NAACHGAANA

  • Just back from Dhoom 3
    utkal | December 23, 2013, 5:21 AM | 2 comments | 2 views

    Dhoom 3 is the film that has surprised me the most this year. Nothing that I had read or heard had prepared me for this. I knew this would be different from the earlier Dhoom films, but this different? It has nothing in common with the non-thinking speed-driven bikes, gals and hunks film s that the earlier two were. This is good storytelling at its best, and quite an ambitious story it is.. an epic one fact, closest in spirit to the better superhero movies that Hollywood makes, closer to something like Endhiran/Robot in term s of having heart at the core of its superficial action trapping.

    The story-telling is surprisingly lean and muscular. They have cut out all the flab. Inspector’s Jay ‘s wife has been totally erased out of the scene. The temptation to use Aaliya in the action or the heist sequences have been scrupulously resisted. Ali’s comic antique’s are minimal, crisp and are never extended . Even the three songs used in the film have solid narrative context and are picturized with imagination and restraint. Right from the first frame the plot unfolds with single-minded focus. This kind of narrative integrity is rare these days.

    The story itself , like the best of epic stories has allegorical and metaphorical dimensions, symmetry and epiphany. The choice of villain itself is a stroke of genius…it is a BANK. It is the BANK that Shahir wants to destroy, not a banker. It is the institution and system that’s the culprit not the in individual. Now how far can you get away from the formula plots of Bollywood or even most of Hollywood?
    The villainous nature of the bank is well articulated. Iqbal the owner of the Great Indian circus wants to raise circus to a higher level, while the bankers expect a pretty girl in short skirt to shove her head into the mouth of a hippopotamus – cheap thrills in other words.

    Then there is the question of dual identities and one’s domination of the other. The beautiful thing about the film is that none of these is made obvious or overplayed. At the same time, these concerns are concretized in a very real way. When Samar gets out of his box on A Sunday we share his sense of elation as he feels the wind on his face. We can feel his awkward love for Aaliya, we share his thrill in his discovery of his ability to make friends. (more…)




  • Saw Ram-Leela 24 hrs back
    utkal | November 19, 2013, 9:14 AM | one comment | 2 views

    Normally I come back from a film, make myself a cup of tea without milk or sugar, and write about it furiously while the adrenalin is still high. I like to write like a lover than a critic. But It has been more than 24 hours since I saw Ram-Leela and I still haven’t got the nerve to write about it. There was so much happening in the film, visually, aurally, in terms of narrative, in terms of character, with allusions to so many myths, so many traditions, with such wild experimentations in choreography, with spoken words; throwing up so many ideas, about love, about war, about gender-politics, about power; that it was impossible to take it all in one viewing, let alone write about it. But I have wrapped up all pending work, made myself large cup of Kashmiri tea, and I am going to give it a try.

    Let me put it this way, it is not only the best Bhansali ever, by miles, I haven’t seen another film since Gangs of Wasseypur that has left me so totally overwhelmed. Let me also start out by saying that the only film of Bhansali I have liked in the past is Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Khamoshi was overwrought, Devdas had moments, but failed totally to capture the soul of the novel or the protagonist, Black was good while it was restaging ’ The Miracle Worker’, but went overboard with the introduction of the a Alzheimer-stricken Amitabh, Saawariya was an unwatchable mess, and Guzaarish was neither here nor there. But with Ram-Leela, everything needs to be forgiven, since Bhansali has managed to pull off what he has been trying to do all these years…create a stylistic masterpiece that captures some essential human truth and therefore connects with the audience…tell a real story in a language of heightened melodrama.

    The film gets off to a frenetic start with the policeman in a gun market, the chase of the little boy taking a pee from the terrace, and all hell breaking loose. We know we are in the machismo land and this is reinstated by the most audacious hero-entry in Indian cinema ever. I knew Ranveer was a kickass star right from Band Baaja Baaraat days, but he was born to play Ram. As I said, you won’t see a more unabashed celebration of beefcake in a Hindi film any time soon, but where Bhansali shows his true mettle in painting the background with full-blown details. The reactions of the ladies watching this icon of male desirability, some of them literally fainting, is akin to what gopis felt listening to Krishan play on the flute, I guess.

    What follows is even more breathtakingly beautiful – the first meeting of Ram and Leela. The urgency, the intensity and the surging passion of young love has been captured rarely if ever as tellingly as here .. and here I am talking not just of Hindi or Indian cinema. Bhansali’s stylistic excesses are very much in order here. ‘ Mohabbat aisi traz hai jo har saaz par chheda nahin jaata’ some shayar said long ago. Let’s face it, not all of us are tuned to play out passionate love. Those who do are strung in a higher key.. and when they find the right person…the right wavelength on their antenna…call it pheromones call it meeting of souls…call it whatever… the pyar ki ghanti rings. The world goes topsy-turvy… man , and woman.. does wild things unmindful of the consequences. ‘ What if it is the wrong room? Can you imagine what can happen?” Ram’s friend warns as Ran climbs up Leela’s mansion without knowing which is Leela’s room. ‘ Imagine instead what can happen if IT IS THE RIGHT ROOM’, Ram retorts. That is the bravado of lovers. After all, “ Mohabbat mein nahin hota hai jeene aur marne ki farak, Usi ko dekh kar jeete hain jis kafir pe dum nikle’. (more…)




  • Just back from Krrish 3
    utkal | November 4, 2013, 2:48 AM | one comment | 0 views

    Just back from ‘Krrish 3’, and disappointed is not the word. In fact writing this is an ordeal. I don’t know why I am even bothering. I mean it is so bad that I don’t even need to warn my friends not to see it. They would have heard about it from someone or the other.

    I guess now that I am in front of the computer Let me vent it out. Just one confession though. I cannot say I have watched the film. Almost after the first ten minutes or so I gave up on it. I could not walk out because my wife would not approve, after paying Rs.350 a ticket. So I surfed the Net, went through all the pieces in NDTV, IBNLive, Hindustan Times, Guardian, New York times, The Atlantic. Checked my Facebook messages and my SMS Inbox, which was full of standard Diwali wishes. Even then the film won’t end.

    So what was so bad about it? Well, everything. The story, or the narrative to start with. It is all over the place. There is no build up. No turning point. No revelations. Nothing. Then the manner of storytelling. It is so boring. No sincerity. No quirkiness. No style. No humour. ( Sample this dialogue from Rajpal Yadav: Tumhara chehra football se tennis ball kyon ho gaya?) The supeherogiri does not thrill at all, because there is no contrast with everyday mundaneness. The introduction of Krishna the ‘ husband’ is with a bare abdomen with rippling ten packs. It is so off-putting. In fact in the song with Kaya, it is Krishna who looks the mutant. Films like Spiderman work because of the supernormal nature of characters like Peter Parker. Here Hrtik as a ‘ husband’ looks like a mutant film star already.Present day Bollywood does not know how to young wives or mothers. Kareena aroused no empathy in Ra One, Priyanka is even worse.

    Then there the songs. Everyone knows they are bad. But just think of the total pointlessness of them and how badly they have been used! The Raghupati Rghava Raja Ram song comes when Priynak has informed Hritik that they are going to have a baby. And what does Hritik sing: aaj ki raat, all night party..or something to that effect. No mention of how is world has become filled with joy and how blessed he feels. Same with the God Allah Bhagwan song. What was the point of it? The multiple religious beliefs were not in the picture at all! Then the Kangana song. Since there was no possibility of any romantic entanglement between the two, there was no tension of any kind. (more…)




  • Just back from The Lunchbox
    utkal | September 22, 2013, 3:29 AM | no comments | 0 views

    That The Lunchbox would be a good film, was never in doubt whe I booked my ticket. ( One can sense these things.) But how good, and in what ways good was the question in my mind. Well first thing first, the film is every inch as good as it is being made out to be. So that gets ‘ How good’ out of the way.

    Now to ‘ In what ways’ good…

    Everyone to whom the film would be of interest knows what it is about – two lonely people making that connection. And a miscarried dabba is the cupid here. But there are so many things beyond this basdic premise that makes the film special.
    Firstly, it is tremendously entertaining and moving. You will laugh out loud at many places. And you will shed a tear at others. But there are passages which will make you think too. There are many strands of philosophical thought left hanging for you to weave your questions around. In fact the philosophical subtexts it introduces are no less than in a film like Ship of Theseus.
    Then there is the plotting and balancing of characters. Saajan Fernandez, Ila, Aslam Sheik, and Deshpande Aunty are the right pieces of the jigsaw that fit together so aptly to create a fascinating tableau of human connection. Each character is quirky, with a visible inner life and full of positive life force. Aunty has a husband who went into coma, fifteen years back and now stares at the Orient fan all through the day. She also has a comprehensive collection of old Hindi film songs, on cassettes. Saajan Fernandez is a decent, slightly abrasive man reaching the end of his carrier as some kind of an accountant. He lost his wife quite some time back. He watches old TV serials like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi that she recorded, reminisces about how he used to be in the balcony smoking cigarette or repairing his bi-cycle, watching her laughs at the same joke for the nth time, and wonders why he did not keep watching her for longer time. Aslam Sheik is rooky appointed to learn the ropes from Mr Fernandez so he can take his place when he retires. He is an orphan..but throws aphorisms that start with, “ Meri mummy ne kaha karti thi..” simply because they sound weightier thatw way. He cuts vegetables on office files and cooks as soon as he reaches home to feed his beautiful wife Meherunnisa ( When the big boss blows his top at the total mess that Sheik has made of claim calculations and adds that the files smell of onion, garlic and sundry vegetables, Sheik sheepishly promises to Fernandez that he will cover the files with plastic before cutting vegetables next time.) And yes, Ila. what would the film do without her? She is the yin to Fernandez’s yang. She is the passion willing to break free in contrast to Fernandez’s restraint. She is the one who loves to cook the recipes that Deshpande Aunty shouts out from the room upstairs. She is the one who wonders if there is anything more to life than the Orient fan, and then whispers to herself , If not..toh jeeye kyon?

    The aesthetics of the film follow the Iranian minimalistic gharana, where , to quote Saeed Mirza speaking about Nirad Mohapatra’s ‘ Maya Miriga’, ‘reality is stretched till the cracks show.’ In a way it also follows the way of the Zen where one is forever observant, at every minutiae, considering nothing unimportant. The orange-tinged tea that Ila drinks, the swell of the chapati being blown up on the flame, the Mumbai rains, the Tukaram songs that the dabbawalas sing in the compartment, the kameez that Ila wore on her honeymoon ( which fails to arouse the passion of husband Rajeev now)…everything. Everyday actions like Ila flinging Rajeev’s shirts into the washing machine and office goers making do with two bananas for lunch gets suffused with inarticulable significance. (more…)




  • Just back from Chennai Express.
    utkal | August 11, 2013, 5:25 AM | 5 comments | 1 views

    I must confess I haven’t seen any of the Rohit Shetty films , on big or small screen, since Zameen. The trailer of this one hadn’t particularly impressed me and it had been an effort sitting through Shahrukh’s last, Jab Tak Hai Jaan. The only reason I went for this one is because my wife is a die-hard Shahrukh fan, and there was no other film that I could take her to this weekend. Ship of Theseus was gone. Even BA Pass wasn’t running. Let me also confess I had to buy the ticket in black, paying double the price for a couple of balcony tickets in a single-screen theater.

    But when the film started, after the trailers of Krissh 3 and Satyagrah, both looking quite good, I was instantly hooked. From the very first frame. There was something of a genuine raconteur’s charm in the way Sharukh voices his grandapa’s story that wins you over right away. The fact that Rahul has no compunction about cheating his granny in taking his grandpa’s ash only till Klayan and not Rameshwaram helps. And the much applauded scene where Rahul helps Meena and her four cousin-cum-kidnappers unto the compartment sets the tone of this really stylish comedy. Contrary to what I had heard of Rohit Shetty’s films requiring you to leave your brain at home, the comedy in the film was very well though-out and elegantly executed. I have been always an admirer of physical comedy as well as ‘objects’ comedy – comedy that makes inventive use of objects around characters – the kind that you see in films like ‘ Kiungfu Hustle’ or in the films of Jackie Chan. Not many Indian directors try it or are any good in it. The genres require adroit choreography of sorts and Shetty is rather good at it. From simple gags like Shahrukh’s rucksack hitting the faces of the goons repeatedly tothway the different weapons of the four encircle Shahrukh’s neck in a single coordinated swipe are examples of this within the first few minutes itself. The encryption of message through a feigned antakshari is a lark. And use of words like ‘ shauchalay’ within it and the goons prodding Meena to sing when they assumed was her turn makes you chuckle out loud.

    The gags flow smooth and easy right until the interval. I had to admire Shetty’s artistic integrity while noting that there was only one song, the vey tastefully staged One Two Three Four, Get On the Dance Floor to interrupt the proceedings. The gag with double-date arising out of mistaken missive, or the Srilankan smugglers on high seas , or the episode with appa’s favourite car meeting its watery end are all inventive and funny, not to count the many verbal gags involving mix up between Tamil and Hindi.

    Though I wish the second half had stayed in the same spoofy territory, what we get is not too bad. There is something really quaint about the romance blossoming in this fairy tale village with such droll and sweet uncles and aunties. There is no gainsaying No one does romance as well as Shahrukh. And I like it better when it is not over-sweetened like it is in films of Aditya Chopra or Karan Johar. The three hundred steps of carrying the weight of love is touching for sure , but it plays s so much better because it is prefaced by Shahrukhs, “ Where is the temple? Where is the temple?” The scene where Deepika goes back from the escape car only to return with the urn containing the ashes givea lie to the canard that Shetty’s films are brainless.
    I would have admired Shetty a lot more if he could come out with something more inventive than the climax fight. But given the way the film had been set up with a don and his four henchmen and a giant ofa rival in love, I could not complain too much about the turn of events. At least it was staged well – like the stove being flung and setting something on fire and Shahrukh being left holding the handle of a bucket after smashing it over someone’s head. And Shahrukh;’s speech here about father’s being heartlessly blind to what their daughters want is so much better than his “ Jis jagaah se mein dekh raha hooon..’ speech to Amitabh in Mohabbatein, both in substance and style. The Tamil bits and lines like ‘ Mein ek Halwa-wala hoon lekin ek kdwa bbat kahunga’ help in cutting the mawkishness and the ‘ gyan’ element. (more…)




  • REcords Chennai Express is chasing
    utkal | August 6, 2013, 10:44 AM | one comment | 0 views

    We at Bollywood Hungama decided to take a look at some of the records King Khan may just be desperately looking at breaking with Chennai Express:

    The first and by far one of the biggest records is that held by professional rival and frenemy Salman Khan’s Ek Tha Tiger, for being the fastest film to reach the Rs. 100 crore mark, in just 5 days.
    Back in December 2009, Aamir Khan’s 3 Idiots created history with a lifetime domestic collection of Rs. 202.47 crores, as compared to SRK’s current highest Jab Tak Hai Jaan that stands at Rs 120.85 crores. SRK will certainly be gunning for the record of Aamir’s that has endured for 3 and half years now.
    While on one hand SRK battles the domestic collections of 3 Idiots, on the other, he has the US collections of 3 Idiots to beat that stands at 6,533,849 USD gross followed by SRK’s My Name Is Khan 4,018,695 USD.
    If not Aamir’s in the US, SRK will surely be gunning to break his own record of My Name Is Khan in UK which collected 2,626,608 pounds gross.
    The recently released Ranbir Kapoor starrer Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani has fast claimed the number one slot in the UAE, a territory that has been relatively predominantly the Khan bastion. To reclaim top slot in UAE, SRK’s Chennai Express will have to surpass YJHD’s collections that stand at 6,500,000 AED.
    Another record that SRK will be gunning for is yet again held by Aamir, that of 3 Idiots collections in Australia. In this case, much like the US collections, Aamir leads with collections of 1,077,333 A$ gross followed by SRK’s My Name Is Khan at 876,794 A$.
    The last, much like the first, held by Salman Khan is that of the highest Opening Day grosser with his film Ek Tha Tiger. The film which collected a surprising Rs 32.93 crores as compared to SRK’s Ra.One that managed Rs. 18.5 crores.

    From the above mentioned records, a major portion is held by rivals Aamir and Salman, while rising star Ranbir is the only contender from the new lot of actors. Though we at Bollywood Hungama have tried to encompass most of the records available, if you know any that we might have missed, post it in the comments section below. Also, we would want to know from you if SRK will be able to break each of these records mentioned above.

    http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/box-office/special-features/id/227




  • Saw Bhag Milkha Bhag last Saturday
    utkal | July 16, 2013, 5:55 PM | 2 comments | 1 views

    To start with, let me confess, reaction to a film for me is a one –zero binary affair. Either it connects with me and engages or it does not. The nuances come later.

    Well this one connected . Right from the first frame. The non-linear style of storytelling is that I have been pleading for has been employed here to great effect. It makes a long story more absorbing if you don’t start in the beginning and end in the end. Jodhaa Akbar did not follow this pat and dragged. 3 Idiots did and had us in its grip throughout.

    And when a film connects, the length does not deter, in fact just the opposite happens. You want the movie to go on and on. Like a TV serial you are hooked onto. My other pet format is films that are, apart from being long, are the types where there is no urgency to tell a story, where nothing much happens. Hum Aapke Hain Koun../ and from the recent crop, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani are good examples the genre. When a film is tightly scripted with a great plot it si very satisfying. But you are enjoying it as a story, a piece of fiction. But when a film unfolds ata leisurely pace as if not ina hurry to go anywhere, fools you into thinking that what you are observing is life, and not a film. The near 4-hour length of Lagaan works that way. Of course for this to happen, the characters must connect and the moments must resonate with emotions and humour.

    And that happens fabulously in Bhag Milkha Bhag. The early Pakistan portions as well as the early days in the army just charm your pants off with detailing and honesty. The great production values also help. I love the scenes with the young Milkha and his buddy taking off their clothes to wade through the river on the way to school., his little moments with hi sister, his adventures with the boys gang, the scenes with the glass of milk and two raw eggs, the Indian blazer and many other such moments. I also love the sheer physicality of the film. You can touch and feel the rawness of Milkha’s early life. The way he gulps his milk with the eggs, the sheer visceral depiction of the stone piercing his bare feet, or the concreteness of how the young Milkha holds the rope of a refugee camp tent and swivels back to see his long lost sister. There are scenes which apparently have no relevance to the main narrative of Milkha’s life as a runner, and I love that . You know all the dots in your life do not join to form the picture which the world knows you by. The dots connect for sure, but to form many other smaller pictures, that are lesser known. The Pakistan scenes bring a lump to your throat precisely because of this. And also because many are the sense which you don’t often see in partition films..like the classroom scenes with mostly Muslim students and the Sikh teacher. The army scenes win our hearts because it sucks us into another world, the lived in reality of small town lowly recruits and their innocent hearts. (more…)




  • Just back from Bhag Milkha Bhag ( written on Saturday night)
    utkal | July 16, 2013, 3:13 AM | no comments | 0 views

    Bhag Milkha Bhag

    Actually I saw the film last night, but was too exhausted at 2 am to write down my impressions as I usually do immediately after seeing a film to so that I don’t lose the spontaneity of the reaction. Well, let me try recapture the ardour.

    To start with, let me confess, reaction to a film for me is a one –zero binary affair. Either it connects with me and engages or it does not. The nuances come later.
    Well this one connected . Right from the first frame. The non-linear style of storytelling is that I have been pleading for has been employed here to great effect. It makes a long story more absorbing if you don’t start in the beginning and end in the end. Jodhaa Akbar did not follow this path and dragged. 3 Idiots did and had us in its grip throughout.

    And when a film connects, the length does not deter, in fact just the opposite happens. You want the movie to go on and on. Like a TV serial you are hooked onto. My other pet format is films that are, apart from being long, are the types where there is no urgency to tell a story, where nothing much happens. Hum Aapke Hain Koun..! and from the recent crop, Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani are good examples the genre. When a film is tightly scripted with a great plot it is very satisfying. But you are enjoying it as a story, a piece of fiction. But when a film unfolds at a leisurely pace as if not in a hurry to go anywhere, fools you into thinking that what you are observing is life, and not a film. The near 4-hour length of Lagaan works that way. Of course for this to happen, the characters must connect and the moments must resonate with emotions and humour.

    And that happens fabulously in Bhag Milkha Bhag. The early Pakistan portions as well as the early days in the army just charm your pants off with detailing and honesty. The great production values also help. I love the scenes with the young Milkha and his buddy taking off their clothes to wade through the river on the way to school., his little moments with hi sister, his adventures with the boys gang, the scenes with the glass of milk and two raw eggs, the Indian blazer and many other such moments. I also love the sheer physicality of the film. You can touch and feel the rawness of Milkha’s early life. The way he gulps his milk with the eggs, the sheer visceral depiction of the stone piercing his bare feet, or the concreteness of how the young Milkha holds the rope of a refugee camp tent and swivels back to see his long lost sister. There are scenes which apparently have no relevance to the main narrative of Milkha’s life as a runner, and I love that . You know all the dots in your life do not join to form the picture which the world knows you by. The dots connect for sure, but to form many other smaller pictures, that are lesser known. The Pakistan scenes bring a lump to your throat precisely because of this. And also because many are the scenes which you don’t often see in partition films..like the classroom scenes with mostly Muslim students and the Sikh teacher. The army scenes win our hearts because they suck us into another world, the lived in reality of small town lowly recruits and their innocent hearts. (more…)




  • Fukrey Is Exceptional In Gurgaon In Second Week
    utkal | June 26, 2013, 1:12 PM | no comments | 0 views

    Fukrey is doing exceptinal businesss in Gurgaon as the second weeeknd was better than the first weekend. This is the first time it has happened in Gurgaon since the nine multiplex release in the city. The first and second weekend collections of Fukrey in Gurgaon are as follows.

    First Weekend
    Friday – 8,72,227
    Saturday – 11,06,677
    Sunday – 11,21,262

    TOTAL – 31,00,166

    Second Weekend
    Friday – 8,75,450
    Saturday – 12,29,918
    Sunday – 11,58,124 (more…)




  • Raanjhanaa and Chetan Bhagat’s Revolution 2020
    utkal | June 23, 2013, 1:25 PM | no comments | 3 views

    Looking back on Raanjhanaa, I realise , the core relationships bear a striking resemblance to Chetan Bhagat’s Revolution 2020. The Kundan-Zoya-Jasjit equation has a strong parallel with Gopla-Arati-Raghav threesome. And the background is Banaras. But then, it could be a coincidence. And if Rai indeed has been inspired by Revolution 2020, he has worked on it enough to transform it to a fairly different story, though the core sentiments are from the book. Any thoughts from guys who have read the book and seen the film?



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