Dil Dhadakne Do: Board this cruise with the Mehra family!

It’s very rare ( especially in Bollywood) that you walk into the theater to watch a director’s work. Zoya is an exception though because she has shown with both Luck By Chance and ZNMD that she is a class apart when it comes to direction and is an excellent storyteller. So I had to go watch Dil Dhadakne Do and I am glad I chose to.

Dil Dhadakne Do is a treat to watch. The Mehra family is a bundle of conflicts and Zoya portrays those conflicts with such ease and conviction. Some of the scenes in the film, especially the ones with all the Mehra family members together, are cinema of the highest quality. The witty comic scenes in particular, are extraordinary and match up to ZNMD standards. The dialogues penned by Farhan go a long way in making the film entertaining and helping Zoya depict such complex characters and relationships on screen.

When you have a top notch director and such an elaborate star cast, there are bound to be some amazing performances. Almost everyone in the film (including the very fine supporting actors) put up a good show but Shefali Shah and Ranveer Singh just steal the show. Shefali is a fabulous actor and she is perfect for the role of Neelam Mehra. Hopefully, this film marks a new beginning for her and she gets a lot more meaty roles in future.

DDDposter

Coming to Ranveer, how much has this guy grown as an actor over the last few years? He started off well with Band Baaja Baarat but he has reached another level with DDD. He holds the film together from start to finish and his interactions with his parents are some of the highlights of the film.

A couple of days ago I was thinking that for the sake of drawing a comparison, Ranbir is potentially the next Aamir and Varun Dhawan the next Salman. While I do not see any traits of Shahrukh in Ranveer, I am sure he is going to keep doing some great work and I am really looking forward to it.

Coming back to the film, my only complain is that it was probably 15-20 minutes too long. It’s tough to say for sure because I am not able to point out any unnecessary track or scenes. Having said that, it’s the director’s job to find a way to make it shorter and I am sure Zoya must have given it a thought and would have had her own reasons to keep it at 2h50mins. The songs are another aspect which could have been slightly better but the beautiful locations and the dance performances more than make up for it.

Overall, I would say everyone should book their tickets to board this cruise with the Mehra family and their friends, and explore a world full of conflicts, hypocrisies, intricacies and complex relationships. Keep an eye out for those special moments that the Mehras’ create on screen because those are the ones you would like to revisit some other day. I surely will.

Haider is Fascinating

I do not feel capable of writing a review for an adaptation of Hamlet because I have not studied Hamlet that well and barely remember it. But I am making this post because I cannot stop myself from recommending this movie. If even one person reads this blog and decides to watch Haider, I will be happy.

Haider is fascinating. It’s Brilliant. The story starts of a little slow but sucks you in and you do not take your eyes off the screen after the interval. Those who have seen Hamlet will be forced to compare and judge this movie as an adaptation. But for me, this is Haider. Not Hamlet. And Haider is a very well directed film by Vishal Bhardwaj, who is undoubtedly one of the finest directors in our country. I am happy to know that directors like Vishal Bhardwaj are there to inspire the next generation of directors in India.

The performances are remarkable. Shahid, Kay Kay, Shraddha shine and all other local actors have done well. Shahid needs to do less of the Phata Posters and R Rajkumars and do some interesting roles. He has a lot of variety and has shown immense growth as an actor. Kay Kay is a fine actor and he does complete justice to his role. Shraddha is relatively new but holds her own in front of all the other experienced actors. Her songs and the music in general is another addition to Haider’s appeal. Irrfan Khan shows that you do not need a lengthy role to make an impact.

But Tabu just steals the show. Each and every scene in which she is present is a lesson for all other aspiring actors. You can be part of a 200 crore movie in which there is no substance to your role or look for challenging roles in which you grow as an actor. Tabu is too good of an actress to not get more meaningful roles. I really hope this is the beginning of a lot more good work for her. And I need to visit/revisit some of her previous work now.

I just lov-ed Haider. This is the kind of film that Bollywood should be known for. Not Slumdog Millionaire. Go watch it! Now!

A word on Salman Khan’s Kick

Alright let me make this clear upfront, this is not a review. Salman has clearly told us that there is no point of trying to make sense of him as it is impossible to understand him. He resides in our hearts! Who am I to go against Bhai’s wish? There is no point in analyzing this one and thinking about it from a critic’s point of view. A proper review of Salman’s movies makes little sense because as Rajeev Masand puts it in his “review”: “I didn’t hate it. If that’s enough encouragement, sure, go watch it. But you were going to anyway, right?” People will go watch and the movie will smash all records no matter what the critics have to say.

So let’s come to the point and just talk about my experience of watching Kick. I saw a 12:05am show of Kick in a theater in Houston, Texas. It was not sold out by any means but there was a decent occupancy for a midnight show. Mostly a desi crowd but there were a few Americans and Mexicans too.

So the movie started. The crowd was acting civil as they usually do in American theaters. They put their phones on silent and went dead silent when the movie started. Cut to the first glimpse of Salman on screen and everyone just starts whistling and screaming. “Salluu Bhai” someone yelled out in front of me. “Pandey ji” came from somewhere behind. For a moment I felt irritated and wanted them to be quite so that I could concentrate on the movie but I soon realized that there was no point. This was a 12:05am show of a Salman Khan movie. People had come to enjoy. So I decided to go with the flow and just relish the atmosphere.

And what a great time everyone had. Most scenes were predicted even before you saw them on the screen. But that was the beauty of it. Very few actors can make a film enjoyable even when you know the dialogues and scenes that are coming your way. Salman is definitely one of them.

Despite the nature of the film, it does have its moments of cinematic brilliance. Saurabh Shukla impresses as Jacqueline’s father and his comic timing is top notch. We have found an actor par excellence in Nawazzudin Siddiqui. His dialogue delivery and devilish demeanor is a pleasure to watch. He has a lot to offer to Indian cinema. Salman’s heroines usually do not have an impactful role and it is no different in Kick with Jacqueline. But she does what is required of her. There are many other actors who have small comic roles in the first half and do well.

And what to say about Salman’s performance? He has rediscovered himself since Wanted and he understands what his audience is looking for. They are not there to see Devi Lal Singh or Devil, they are there to see their beloved hero and he never fails to deliver to his audience. He charms as usual, dances like no one’s watching and gives the audience their required Kick of entertainment!

Like Jai Ho, Salman also delivers a social message. It is good to see that he and his directors are making use of his stardom and hopefully making a difference to our society. He has also recently challenged all the other actors to beat him in charity. And he says they can do it.

Kick will break all BO records or at least reach the Dhoom 3 level. Earlier I did not like the fact that such movies do so well while more meaningful films do not get the success they deserve. But I now believe that money flowing into the industry is a good thing! The better these films do, the more we will get to see the so called “parallel cinema”.

So go watch Kick and try not be a critic. That way you will enjoy it more.

Oh just one more thing I forgot to mention. When I walked out of the theater, the Mexicans were humming the tune of Jumme Ki Raat. One desi yelled out to his friend “Pandey ji rukko zara”. There were smiles all around. If the purpose of cinema is to entertain then Salman Khan has done it once again!

Gulaab Gang Review

Gulaab Gang Poster

Gulaab Gang, which released on International Women’s Day, is inspired by the Gulabi Gang in UP . From the promos it was clear that the movie was going to be a typical Bollywood entertainer but with a message on women empowerment.

For the viewers, the primary attraction to the movie were its leading actresses Madhuri Dixit (Rajjo) and Juhi Chawla (Sumitra Devi), who shared the same frame for the first time in their long careers. The two have ruled the box office for many years and they take this opportunity to showcase the younger lot that they are not done yet. Be it the anger in Madhuri’s eyes or the cruelty in Juhi’s smile, the two portray their characters of Rajjo and Sumitra Devi with utmost of ease and conviction. Juhi in particular deserves credit for taking this challenge of a complete image makeover from the ever smiling affable actress, to this vicious power-hungry politician. A special mention to Divya Jagdale and Priyanka Bose; the movie would not have been the same without their parts as members of the gang.

The movie starts off well by explaining the origins and the mode of operation of Rajjo’s Gulaab Gang. The Gulaab Gang is shown fighting various injustices of the society before indulging into a political fight between Rajjo and Sumitra Devi. From then on, its a battle between the violent yet honest Rajjo and the manipulative Sumitra Devi.

There are a couple of very powerful and well-shot moments, especially those involving Madhuri and Juhi, but at 2hours 20 minutes, the movie turns out to be a bit of a drag and would have done much better without a couple of songs. In the attempt of making it a combination of a mainstream Bollywood movie (including Madhuri’s dancing) and a movie with a message, the director seems confused and is not able to do complete justice to either genres. In many ways, the movie is reminiscent of Sarkar but unfortunately just like Sarkar, it squanders the potential and talent at its disposal.

The songs in isolation are meaningful and refreshing for a change but they hinder the pace and seriousness of the plot. But do listen to the songs, especially Teri Jai Ho.

Despite the drawbacks, one should go watch Gulaab Gang only for the amazing performances by the cast. Watching Madhuri and Juhi indulging in dialoguebaazi on screen is something that you do not want to miss.

Rating – 3/5 ( 2 for the movie in itself but +1 for the cast)

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani Review

Once again, I do not see a point in describing the plot too much or giving away any spoilers. Here is the trailer – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbp2XUSeUNE

YJHD has everything that you expect from a Rom-Com by Dharma Productions. The romance, the emotions, the family drama, the cheesy dialogues and of course the big fat Indian wedding. A lot of money has been put into the movie but for once it seems like it was worth it and does not go too much over the top. Like most Rom-Coms the movie has two distinct halves with the first half being high on entertainment value and the second getting a lot more emotional. If you like to laugh, the movie makes you laugh, and if you are one of those who gets sentimental then at times it can also force you to shed a tear or two.

With the role of Bunny, Ranbir Kapoor will only add to his fast growing list of successful roles. The difference between Ranbir and his contemporaries lies in the level of confidence that Ranbir possesses and showcases. Whether it is dancing with a legend like Madhuri or delivering those cheesy dialogues, Ranbir does it all with a high level of self belief and conviction. Standing up to Ranbir is no easy task but Deepika pulls it off and how! She portrays the sweet and innocent side of Naina just as easily as the hot and sexy one and shares great chemistry with Ranbir. Kalki and Aditya Roy Kapoor are aptly cast and do justice to their roles. Both of them have made their own space in the industry and should keep getting good supporting roles.

The fact that my friends and I came back home listening to the songs and I have been listening to them while writing this review shows that they are very catchy and enhance the experience of watching YJHD. Ranbir’s dance in Badtameez Dil stands out, you struggle to take your eyes off Deepika in Balam Pichkari and Madhuri is awesome as usual in Ghagra.

The dialogues of the movie also add to the entertainment quotient and leave an impact.  Dialogues such as “Abbey border ke Sunny Deol! Yeh sangeet hai nach baliye nahi.” make you laugh and are well written and delivered. Also, it will not be surprising if in the coming times you see friends end an argument by saying….yaar tu right nahin hai bas mujhse alag hai.

You walk into the movie knowing what to expect but within a few minutes you are engaged with the characters and having a good time.  YJHD has nothing new to offer but the performances, songs and dialogues are what Ayan Mukerji had in his kitty and he makes full use of them to entertain his audience. Kudos to Ayan Mukherji for this gem!

YJHD is a Rom-Com by all means but it also leaves you with a lot to ponder about on life and friendship. Ever since DDLJ, movies involving holidays with friends keep coming up and from time to time they remind you that there is a lot more to life than just working and making money. Yes there is a difference between ‘real’ life and ‘reel’ life but as one of my good friend often points out, ‘reel’ life stories do not just come out of thin air. They already exist, either in ‘real’ life or in our dreams. And it can never be a mistake to change your dream into a goal.

All in all, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is an entertaining movie and a must watch.

Rating – 4/5

Shree Review

Before writing this review let me make a couple of things clear – 1) I am not a professional critic and will not be able to comment on too many technicalities. 2) As I have mentioned in the ‘about me’ section, Hussain is someone whom I love and admire and he is one of my idols so there may be some bias but I am trying my best to disconnect myself from him and Shree and write this review as objectively as possible.

Let me begin by asking you all a simple question. How many times do you walk into a Bollywood movie and are able to predict the ending by the interval? or in some cases within a few minutes? More often than not, right? Well, Shree is not one of those typical leave your brains behind masala entertainers with some big names from the industry.  What it is though is a bunch of first timers getting together and giving an honest effort towards a script that they believed in. You will not see any of the big established directors/producers going forward with such a script because very few of them are ready to experiment with their fixed formulas of getting success at the BO.   Whether you like Shree or not will depend on whether you can accept the fact that you (the viewer) will not be able to predict the twists and turns in Shree.

I will not bother writing about the plot as a lot has already been written and the trailer is more than enough to convey what the movie is all about – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KA4pvJdLMdc

Instead what I will do is write about what I liked and did not like about Shree.

Performances: Hussain Kuwajerwala, an established television personality, carries this movie from the very first scene to the very last and he does it with utmost of ease and conviction. The honest effort he has put in can be seen and as he himself mentioned in an interview a few days back: “Nothing is ever too late in life”. So this is an excellent debut for him and he is able to showcase his potential. My favorite Hussain scenes are the one right before the interval and the very last one. Those are the only two scenes where I feel that we see glimpses of the Hussain that we have known for the last many years. The rest of the time he is so deeply into the character that we only see Shree on the screen.

Coming to the rest of the performances, Anjali Patil has proven her mettle in Chakravyuh but falls short of impressing this time around. I do not know whether to blame the director for this or Anjali but she is too loud throughout the movie and I do not think the role required that. The other actors have been aptly cast and do justice to their roles. Especially the experienced Paresh Ganatra who puts in an excellent performance as the inspector.

The story and direction: As I have already mentioned above, Shree has a refreshing story-line and it will keep you hooked till the very end. There are numerous twists and turns and they will keep you at the edge of your seats.  As mentioned by By Martin D’Souza, Glamsham Editorial, the first half could not have been any better. The plot does lose a bit of steam going into the second half but is back to its riveting best very soon. Mr. Rajesh Bachchani, the director, has done a wonderful job for a debutant and I would especially like to congratulate him for having the courage to go ahead with this script and also for spotting the right talent in Hussain.

The Science? : Without giving away any spoilers I have to say that the explanation given by the professor about the experiment being conducted should have been elaborated on properly to make it more convincing. The science behind it is alright and could have been believable but I believe that part could have been worked on a bit more so that the viewers are totally convinced. Maybe the budget is a reason here because it might not have been possible to shoot in different locations or a proper hi-tech lab. 

Music:  The songs in the film are only used to carry it forward but they could have been better, especially Phat Gayi. Hussain is an even better dancer than what he showcases at the end and perhaps a more catchy song  would have allowed him to showcase his dancing prowess.

The Dialogues/ background score: I am putting these two together because I found them to be the weakest part of the movie. A bit more variety in these two aspects could have enhanced the narrative. By the third (or fourth? ) time you hear “duniya mein sabse mushkil kaam kya hai…..” you are cringing and hoping that it does not come your way. And its not just this one but a few others too which I don’t want to mention as they could reveal the plot.

Entertainment Value:  While Shree keeps you engaged it does lack a bit on the entertainment quotient. It keeps you thinking throughout and keeps you hooked but something seemed missing. Perhaps it was the final touch that could have taken it to a completely new level and made you jump out of your seat and applaud it.

My Final Verdict: I loved the movie for the ‘newness’ that it brings to the table. It is not a typical Bollywood movie and it explores a genre which most directors would be afraid to explore. It does an excellent job with the script and if you like offbeat films then do not miss this one. It may not receive the BO success that it should have received but if that makes the director and Hussain work even harder in the future then we have a lot to look forward to! Oh yeah, did I mention that the next superstar has arrived so beware Bollywood? 😉

Rating –  3.5/5

Note – this is my first attempt at a review ever so forgive any technical, grammatical or any other mistakes.